Senator Wesley L. Jones to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Lansing: I have given some consideration to the proposed treaty between the United States and Great Britain concerning port privileges of fishing vessels, lobster fishing, halibut fishing, and the tariff on fresh fish, a copy of which you kindly furnished me a short time ago.27 There are some general objections that I want to submit at this time to this treaty, which I hope you will consider carefully before entering into it.

Privileges and other matters covered by article 1 were, as I understand it, included in the treaty of Washington, 1888. The Senate refused to ratify this treaty because it was so manifestly much more beneficial to Canada than to the United States. These especial provisions were made effective by modus vivendi between the State Department and Canada, and on the payment of a license fee of $1.50 per ton, the arrangement to continue for two years. This modus vivendi was continued until 1896 when the Department declined to continue it longer on its part. Canada continued the provisions by “Order in Council” and this fact in itself sustains the contention that the commercial benefits to Canada were manifestly greater than the benefits to the United States. As nearly as I can learn thirty-four American vessels availed themselves of the opportunity presented in 1916 and Canada has since then been seeking a way to increase fishing from its ports. Your office should know whether this is a correct statement of the situation. If it is not, I would be glad to be advised wherein it is inaccurate.

Canada has been seeking for one hundred and forty years or more to secure a good part of the privileges of Article 2. Those under (a) would not be exercised except as to bait because of cheaper nets, etc., in Canada (60% duty on linen nets coming from Great Britain to the United States and none on linen nets going to Canada). [Page 267] (b) and (c) are of no special value, (d) would not be utilized because Canadian markets cannot absorb the fish now landed in Canadian ports, (e), (f) and (g) are the real purposes sought by Canada. She would secure the far greater American market and direct American port fishing for Canadian vessels without giving anything special in return. This is what Canada has wanted for years and what she is seeking now and in our own interests we should not give it.

There is no special objection to Article 3.

Under Article 4, coupled with Article 2, Canadian vessels fishing off Alaska and using Alaskan ports for refuge would, as now, pass from Prince Rupert and Vancouver through American waters without being required to enter at Customs, but under the treaty even if they landed crews, purchased bait or supplies, they would not be required to enter at Customs and pay charges therefor, which privilege they do not now hold. American vessels, however, attempting to fish out of Prince Rupert, would, under their American coastwise registers, be required in returning from such foreign port to fishing ground, to enter at the first American port and produce bill of health from Prince Rupert which costs $5.00 aside from tonnage tax and other fees. This, coupled with other advantages to Canadian vessels in economy of operation under Canadian regulations, would soon drive the American flag from the American fishing fleet.

I have no special objection to Article 5, as we have no lobster fisheries on the Pacific Coast.

  • Article 6 would be a good thing as a separate treaty. Why is it that it is not made such– It should not be tied up with these other provisions in order to get them through.
  • Article 7 gives Canada a guarantee of free fish in the American market—the only considerable market available for her—and this would prevent Congress for 17 years at least from passing any law which it might deem necessary for the protection of American fisheries from the importation of fresh fish or fish frozen or in ice. Our interests are too great and too important to be placed at the mercy of Canadian interests, especially when there is so little, if anything, that comes to us in return.
  • Article 8 is unobjectionable and unimportant.

I want to urge upon you the importance of giving this subject the most careful consideration before entering into such a treaty and presenting the same to the Senate. I feel sure that you are as much interested as I am in protecting American interests. Great Britain will do everything she can to protect and promote Canadian interests. I do not complain at this. On the contrary, I admire her and her representatives for doing so. She will take everything she can get [Page 268] and properly so. Without seeking to destroy Canadian industries we should zealously guard and protect our own interests and promote our own development.

Very respectfully yours,

W. L. Jones
  1. Evidently a copy of the preliminary draft referred to in Department’s letter of Oct. 27 to the Secretary of Commerce, p. 258. The references to art. 5, etc., apply to art 6, etc., of the draft printed as enclosure to that letter; see also letter of Dec. 27, p. 268.