Mr. Root to Sir M. Durand.
Washington, October 12, 1905.
(Received at Foreign Office, October 27.)
Dear Mr. Ambassador: I have just telegraphed you at Lenox expressing my wish for an interview at your early convenience. The occasion for the request is a dispatch which I have just received from Senator Lodge, containing the following statement based, I assume, upon information received from his constituents in Massachusetts, who are interested in the fisheries:
Newfoundland cruiser Fiona has arrived in Bay of Islands, on treaty coast, with minister of marine and fisheries on board. The minister has forbidden all vessels on American register to fish on treaty coast, where they now are, and where they have fished unmolested since 1818.
The American boats are already upon the treaty coast. I have felt bound to advise Senator Lodge that I have no doubt of their right to proceed to take fish upon the ground where the minister of marine and fisheries of Newfoundland has prohibited them from fishing. The history of the fisheries and the numerous difficulties which have arisen upon the treaty coast indicates that this conflict between the orders of the Newfoundland government and the rights of our fishermen, as we conceive them to be, may lead to very serious and regrettable incidents. It seems unfortunate that the government of Newfoundland should undertake to prohibit a practice justified by the construction of the various treaties relating to the Newfoundland [Page 711] fisheries for more than a century without any suggestion by the Government of Great Britain that that Government proposes any change of construction, and without any exchange of views between the two Governments upon the subject.
I shall wish to satisfy you that immediate representation should be made to the government of Newfoundland which will lead to a different way of raising and disposing of any questions which there may be regarding our fishermen’s rights under the existing treaty.
I am, etc.,