Mr. Bayard to Mr. Gresham.
London, November 1, 1893. (Received November 11.)
Sir: I have the honor to state that, pursuant to your directions, the copies of the protocols of the arbitration in the Bering Sea question have just been sent to me from the embassy of the United States at Paris.
The oral arguments of counsel, save and except that of James C. Carter, esq., have not yet been published, as I am as yet informed, and I would like to receive them as soon as they are in print.
As attendant upon framing legislation and coming to an international agreement to carry out the decisions and recommendations of the Paris Tribunal in their award upon the business of fur-seal fishing in Bering Sea, I have also the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a telegram which appeared yesterday in the London newspapers, which indicates the extent to which “pelagic” sealing was carried on in the present season, and likewise suggests a method by which it is proposed to evade the duties and obligations imposed by the treaty and the award of the arbitrators, only upon the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, leaving depredation upon seal life under other flags not only unchecked, but in effect affirmatively legalized by the text of the award and decisions.
Up to this date “pelagic” sealing has been carried on only under the flags of Great Britain and the United States, but what may be done under the flags of other nationalities hereafter can not be definitely anticipated. Therefore, as at present instructed, and in anticipation of cooperative penal enactments by the United States and Great Britain against killing seal in the sea, in violation of the award, it would seem highly expedient to caution the Governments of Japan and Korea, as well as the Sandwich Islands, against attempts which may be made to carry on under their flags, fur-seal fishing, contrary to the letter and intent of the Paris decision and recommendations. In this connection I take leave to remark that the avowed reason for the contention against pelagic sealing on the part of the United States has always been the preservation of the seal species for the use of civilized mankind, and the gist of the argument against killing seal in the water has been the impossibility of discrimination between sexes and ages, as well as the insecurity of capture of a large proportion of the seals when so killed.
This rule is not local, but necessarily applies to the fur-seal species everywhere; so that the Government of the United States, in order to be consistent, should be prepared to show its unwillingness to kill seal in the water anywhere, and at all seasons; that is to say, “pelagic” [Page 129] sealing is destructive to the species, and it is only on land that proper discrimination can be exercised.
Therefore, in asking the adhesion of other nations to the regulations prescribed, and recommendations suggested by the arbitrators at Paris, as is stipulated by Article VII of the treaty of February 1892, between the United States and Great Britain, the United States should be prepared to extend the proposed rules into those regions of the high seas adjacent to the sealing islands and sealing resorts of other nations.
The interests of Russia and Japan are almost identical with those of the United States, and what is desirable for one is so alike to all. Each of these powers possesses territory to which the fur seal resort when breeding, and equally with the United States need protective regulation.
I venture therefore, to submit to your judgment the advisability of instructing the representatives of the United States in Japan, Korea, and the Sandwich Islands, to intimate confidentially to those Governments the present condition of affairs, and that the United States and Great Britain are about unitedly to enforce protective measures, by the establishment of a zone of interdiction around the Pribilof group, and a close season from May 1, to July 31, in the Pacific Ocean north of the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude and invite their adhesion to the regulations proposed by the award as published.
You will observe that I have not referred to the fact that, by article 2, of the Paris award, the water boundary described in article 1, of the treaty of 1867 (Alaskan purchase), between the United States and Russia, is the limit in Bering Sea within which the interdiction is to be enforced, but it seems very clear that justice and self-consistency demand of the United States that this interdiction against killing seal at sea would extend to all waters, including those adjacent to the territorial possessions of other countries, and to which the seal resort. Russia and Japan are the two nations territorially interested, and the Sandwich Islands and Korea can justly be appealed to not to allow their flags to be used for purposes unfriendly to the United States.
Of course by the treaty of February, 1892 (Article VII), Great Britain is bound to cooperate with the United States in securing adhesion to the regulations, and it is assumed that of course (it) will do so.
And at the proper time, and in such mode as may be deemed most advisable, such cooperation will be claimed by the United States; but at the present writing the point I desire to make is the word of friendly notification and caution to Japan, Korea, and the Sandwich Islands, Lest the use of their flags might be obtained by the solicitation of furseal hunters from the United States or Great Britain and her colonies.
The interests of Russia are so entirely similar to those of the United States and so involved in a similar fate that I can not imagine any such warning would be requisite in that quarter.
The participation of Sweden and Norway, France and Italy in the composition of the Paris Tribunal and framing its decrees would seem to render it impossible that those Governments would permit their flags to be used as a cover of depredations against the interests which they themselves had so benevolently adjudicated. So that I think all that need be done in the light of the enormous extent of pelagic sealing during the current year, as shown by the inclosed telegram, and the suggestion of a transfer of the sealing fleet to Japanese waters, and possibly under the Japanese flag, will be a notification and warning by our representative to that Government of the possibility of such attempt and the necessity of preventing its success. You may possibly [Page 130] think it worth while, informally, and in conversation at Washington, to broach the subject to the Japanese minister.
I shall proceed as speedily as possibly in the duty assigned me of coming to such an agreement of cooperation with Her Majesty’s Government as will give efficient force to the award of the Paris Tribunal.
I have the honor, etc.,