No. 255.

Mr. Thornton to Mr. Davis.

Sir: With reference to the note dated the 21st ultimo, which I had the honor to receive from the Secretary of State, relative to the Canadian order in council of the 8th of January last, discontinuing the system of fishing licenses, I now inclose copy of a dispatch from the Governor General of Canada, forwarding copy of a minute of the privy council of the Dominion, which I trust will be satisfactory to the Secretary of State.

Sir John Young to Mr. Thornton.

Sir: With reference to your dispatch No. 13, of April 22, 1870, I have now the honor to forward herewith a copy of a minute of the privy council of the Dominion, covering a report of the minister of marine on the subject of the order in council of the 8th of January last.

These papers will place you in possession of the views of the Dominion government on the points alluded to in your dispatch.

Report of the committee of the honorable the privy council, approved by his excellency the Governor General, on the 10th day of May, 1870.

The committee of council have had before them the dispatch dated 22d April, 1870, from her Majesty’s minister at Washington, inclosing copy of a note which he received from Mr. Fish, in which he invites his attention to the first paragraph of the order in council of the 8th of January last, discontinuing the system of fishing licenses, and stating that Mr. Fish also made a verbal communication to him upon the same subject, and said that the phrase “waters of Canada” might be supposed to include some of those waters in which, by the treaty of 1818, American fishermen have a right to fish, but which, by an extension of the boundaries of Canada, may now be comprised within the “waters of Canada.”

Mr. Thornton states that he assured Mr. Fish of his conviction that the above-mentioned order in council has no intention of abridging any of the rights to which citizens of the United States are entitled by the treaty of 1818, and that he would call your excellency’s attention to the subject.

The committee have also had under consideration the annexed report, dated 28th [Page 414]April, 1870, from the honorable the minister of marine and fisheries, to whom the above dispatch was referred, and they entirely concur in the views expressed in that report, and advise that a copy thereof be transmitted by your excellency to Mr. Thornton, for the information of the United States Government.

Certified:

WILLIAM H. LEE, Clerk Privy Council.

[Untitled]

The minister of marine and fisheries has the honor to state, with reference to Mr. Thornton’s dispatch of the 22d instant, accompanied by a note from Mr. Secretary Fish, in which the latter calls attention to the first paragraph of the order in council of 8th January last, and expresses his apprehension of interference with certain fishing rights guaranteed to the United States by article one of the convention of 1818, that the wording of the minute of council referred to clearly shows, by providing for the prevention of “illegal encroachment by foreigners” on the in-shore fisheries of Canada, that the Canadian government never contemplated any interference with rights secured to United States citizens by the treaty in question between the British and American governments.

Mr. Thornton was therefore quite right in assuring Mr. Fish, in general terms, that there could be no intention to abridge any rights to which citizens of the United States art entitled by treaty.

The undersigned remarks that Mr. Fish also labors under a misapprehension in supposing that the present boundaries of the Dominion comprise any fishing grounds affected by the existing treaty stipulations to which Mr. Fish’s note refers, which were not formerly within the bounds of the old province of Canada. With regard to the general effect of the first paragraph of the order in council of 8th January last, quoted at length, and underlined in Mr. Fish’s note, the undersigned would further observe that the act relating to fishing, by foreign vessels, under the authority of which licenses were issued to United States fishermen, applied to all foreigners; and as the discontinuance of the license system which had existed under it applies also to other foreign vessels and fishermen frequenting bur coasts, and who are not entitled to fish anywhere in the waters of Canada, the terms of such formal discontinuance were necessarily general, and in any case they could apply only to those waters within which our “in-shore fisheries” are situated, and in which neither American nor other foreign subjects have any legal right to fish.

The whole respectfully submitted.

P. MITCHELL, Minister of Marine and Fisheries.