No. 264.

Mr. Wm. A. Dart to Mr. Davis

Sir: While at Prince Edward Island a few days since, I was informed by Mr. J. C. Hall, and other extensive fishermen on that island, that they were daily expecting an order to the commandants of her Majesty’s vessels cruising along that island, forbidding American fishermen the privilege, heretofore long enjoyed by American vessels, of entering its ports to dry fish, purchase supplies, and to reship their fish for ports in the United States.

On my return yesterday I received from Mr. Hall a letter and a copy of “The Patriot’’ upon that subject, which I have the honor to inclose for the information of the Department.

The fishing interests of Prince Edward Island are mainly in American hands. Mr. Hall informs me that of the twelve or fourteen thousand barrels of mackerel annually shipped from there his firm ships eight thousand barrels.

The islanders are quite largely interested in furnishing shippers with supplies of barrels, salt, provisions, &c., who will be nearly ruined by a strict enforcement of the treaty of October 20, 1818.

One of the members of the Dominion government is freely quoted in the island as having said that the government intended, by a strict enforcement [Page 423]of colonial rights, to compel a reciprocity treaty with the United States.

I agree in opinion with the editor of “The Patriot” upon the probable effect of such a policy.

I have the honor to be. very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM A. DART, Consul General.

[Untitled]

Dear Sir: Her Majesty’s steamers Valorous and Plover have closed up all trade privileges of landing mackerel in the ports of this island; ordered off a Gloucester schooner this morning; would not allow her to take her bait or supplies.

Her voyage is broken up, and she goes directly to Gloucester. This Japanese policy has been sprung upon this island without a day’s notice. As all ports of this gulf are now closed against our fishermen, and as late in the season they cannot prosecute the fisheries unless they can make use of the harbors at will, unless something is done, our vessels must abandon these fishing grounds. The island government would protect them had they the power. But they are helpless. That the trade commercial regulations, including the landing of mackerel, that have existed and been encouraged here for the last six years, should be terminated at once, is, to say the least of it, unfriendly to the last degree, and should receive the immediate attention of our Government. The remedy is plain; close up the shipment of goods in bond through the States to Canada. This whole business has been one of a purely commercial character, and the treaty of 1818, under which this outrage upon our fishermen is justified, has no connection with it. The restriction then was to prevent our fishermen from landing on the shores where there were no ports, to cure and dry their fish, and to prevent illicit trade. Here our fishermen enter and clear, and take out permit to land their mackerel from the collector, and as their mackerel are a free article in this island, there can be no illicit trade. I trust this will receive the prompt attention of our Government.

Yours, truly,

I. C. HALL.

William A. Dart, Esq., United States Consul General British Provinces, North America.

[Inclosure No. 2 is not sent.]