to Mr. Phelps.
Washington , July 30, 1886.
Sir: Notwithstanding the express language of Article I of the convention between the United States and Great Britain, concluded October 20, 1818, by which it is provided that the inhabitants of the two contracting countries “shall have forever in common * * * the liberty to take fish of every kind “on certain coasts therein described, and, as part thereof, “on that part of the southern coast of Newfoundland which extends from Cape Ray to the Rameau Islands on the western and northern coast of Newfoundland; from the said Cape Bay to the Quirpon Islands, on the shores of the Magdalen Islands, and also on the coast, bays, harbors, and creeks from Mount Joly, on the southern coast of Labrador, to and through the Straits of Belle Isle, and thence northwardly indefinitely along the coast, without prejudice, however, to any of the exclusive rights of the Hudson Bay Company,” I have today received the sworn statements of the captain of an American fishing vessel, the Thomas F. Bayard, of Gloucester, Mass., to the effect that he has been hindered of his lawful rights, so expressly secured by the convention referred to, “to take fish of every kind” in the harbor of Bonne Bay, on the western coast of Newfoundland and within the geographical limits hereinbefore stated.
I inclose a copy of the affidavit and likewise of the formal notice received by the master of the Thomas F. Bayard from the customs officials at Bonne Bay, whereby, to avoid the seizure of his vessel by the local authority [Page 356] of Newfoundland, he was compelled to abstain from the exercise of his lawful right to obtain fish for bait to be used in the open-sea fishing, and to break up his voyage and return home, thus suffering great loss.
The affidavit of Captain McEachern, of the American schooner Mascot, of Gloucester, Mass., which I hand you herewith, discloses the fact of the threat of the customs officials at Port Amherst, in the Magdalen Islands, to seize his vessel should he there obtain fresh fish for bait, although those islands are expressly designated and included in the region wherein the liberty forever to take fish of every kind is expressly secured by the convention of 1818.
Previous attempts or suggestions have been made by the local authorities of Newfoundland to inhibit the purchase or sale of fresh fish for use as bait, and the same have been distinctly disapproved by Her Majesty’s Government, notably by the Duke of Newcastle, when secretary of state for the colonies, in his dispatch of August 3, 1863, to the governor of Newfoundland, Sir A. Bannerman, a copy of which you will find at page 111 in the public document (Ex. Doc. No. 84, House of Representatives, Forty-sixth Congress, second session) sent you by this mail.*
You will please draw the attention of Her Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign affairs (Lord Iddesleigh) to these infractions of treaty rights, and request that such instructions may be promptly issued to the Newfoundland officials as will prevent a recurrence of such wrongs to the lawful pursuits of American citizens; and you will also notify his lordship that remuneration for the damages incurred by the vessels and their owners in the cases referred to in this instruction will be claimed on behalf of the sufferers, so soon as the amount is accurately ascertained.
I am, &c.,
- This document comprises the correspondence in relation to the Fortune Bay occurrences.↩