Mr. Bayard to Mr. Gresham.
London , November 11, 1893 . (Received November 20.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch of November 1, I have now the honor to acknowledge your several instructions of October 18, 24, 26, and 27, all having relation to the fur-seal fishery in Bering Sea, and all of which have been perused with great interest.
My dispatch above referred to was mailed just in advance of the arrival of the several instructions above alluded to, but it gave me no little satisfaction to discover that the expression of views I had the honor of submitting therein to you were quite in line with your own, and that in fact you had anticipated certain suggestions I had made therein.
It was quite important for me to possess copies of the contracts of the United States with the lessees of the Pribilof group, and also copies of the Treasury instructions, in 1890 and 1892, to the general and special agents in charge of the Seal Islands.
The report of your conversations with the representatives of Japan, Russia, and Great Britain is impressive and valuable, and I quite concur in the views, as conveyed, of the President and yourself as to the necessity for a general plan of international arrangement in order to give substantial efficacy and value to the regulations and recommendations of the Tribunal of Arbitration.
I venture to draw your attention to the terms of these Treasury Department instructions relating to the number of seal (7,500) which may be taken on the islands under the modus vivendi, which continued in force “pending the arbitration of the Bering Sea question, unless otherwise provided for after October 31, 1893.”
The arbitration having now closed, and a decision having been reached, there does not appear to be any provision whatever now in force limiting the number of seals which may be taken on the Seal [Page 131] Islands of the United States; but by the contract of March 12, 1890, between the United States and the North American Commercial Company it is expressly stipulated that during the year ending May 1, 1891, “the number of fur seals to be taken and killed for their skins shall not exceed 60,000.”
With this exception, as to the single year 1891, the Secretary of the Treasury is vested with sole discretion and authority to impose restrictions or limitations upon the seal catch on these islands.
I assume that the Secretary of the Treasury will not fix the number of seals which may be taken in the islands during the next season until the desired international arrangement shall have been made.
May I ask to have obtained for me, at the Treasury Department, a summarized statement of the number of seals taken in the Pribilof Islands in each year since 1871.
I suppose no seals have at any time been taken by the lessees of the United States, excepting on those islands, and that no other leases or licenses were ever granted by the United States for sealing elsewhere.
The fact, however, might as well be stated authoritatively by the Treasury Department in connection with the number of seals taken annually since 1871.
I have, etc.,