Ambassador Reid to the Secretary of State.

No. 249.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your dispatch No. 250 of August 7, 1906, stating the case of the American fishing schooner Edna Wallace Hopper, inclosing the correspondence and instructing me to lay the matter before the foreign office in a friendly spirit.

I took the first opportunity of a short visit made to the foreign office by Sir Edward Grey during his vacation, to see him concerning the case. I stated it briefly, and left with him as concise a memorandum as I could make of the essential points, a copy of which is herewith inclosed. I said to Sir Edward, in concluding my statement, that I was so sure of the courteous and just disposition animating his department that I counted in advance on his agreeing entirely with our request, and doing whatever was necessary with the Newfoundland authorities. He replied, smiling, that on my statement he certainly agreed with me, but that of course he would be compelled to consult the colonial department.

[Page 697]

Unless they develop something affecting the case not known at present to us, I feel hopeful that what we ask will be cheerfully conceded.

I took the opportunity of this conversation to urge again upon Sir Edward the importance of the earliest agreement upon a modus vivendi for the Newfoundland fisheries for this season, as well as strenuous efforts to reach some adjustment of the whole controversy at the earliest possible moment. He agreed in the desirability of this, but said that the latest correspondence disclosed such wide discrepancies of views that naturally they had to look into the matter very carefully. Meantime, they were engaged on the modus vivendi, and hoped soon to submit proposals.

I have, etc.,

Whitelaw Reid.


[Memorandum, 29th August, 1906.]

Last winter various American fishing vessels landed fishing gear and put up scaffolds for freezing herring on the treaty coast of Newfoundland, near Bay of Islands, with the consent of the owners of the land, and under the impression that (with this consent) they had the right to do so.

On December 13 the State Department, in reply to an inquiry from our agent, advised them that this right did not extend to the Bay of Islands, or any part of the western coast between Cape Ray and Quirpon Island.

The Newfoundland authorities took a liberal view of the situation and permitted them to remove their scaffoldings and fishing tackle.

One of the boats, however, the Edna Wallace Hopper, had already gone home, and in the absence of anybody to remove the seines and dories she had landed they were seized, and the master of the vessel warned that he was liable to imprisonment and his vessel to confiscation if they came again within Newfoundland waters.

No point is raised (under our present information) on the right to do this. It is only submitted that the same spirit of justice and courtesy which led the Newfoundland officials to permit the other vessels to remove the property when the mistake was discovered would lead them, when their attention is called to it, to relieve the Edna Wallace Hopper at least from the threatened penalties, if not also to restore the seized property, subject to the payment of any expenses to which the officials may have been put on account of it.