The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Geddes)

Excellency: I have the honor to refer to your note No. 741 of October 3, 1921 relative to the discontinuance of the privileges accorded during the War period to Canadian fishing vessels in United States ports, and to inform you that a communication has now been received from the appropriate authority of this Government dealing with the matter. Section 4311 of the Revised Statutes of the United States provides as follows:

“Vessels of twenty tons and upward, enrolled in pursuance of this Title (R.S. 4311–4390),9 and having a license in force, or vessels of less than twenty tons, which, although not enrolled, have a license in force, as required by this Title, and no others, shall be deemed vessels of the United States entitled to the privileges of vessels employed in the coasting trade or fisheries.”

Since the joint resolution of Congress, approved March 3, 1921, terminated practically all War legislation, proclamations and orders issued to aid in the prosecution of the War, it is believed that no attempt should be made to exercise any of the unusual powers exerted during the War. As a result of this Act, R.S. 4311 is again in full effect and the order of July 6th, 1921, cancelling the previous circular No. 174 of February 21, 1918 to the collectors of customs and others, was made as a matter of course merely to clear the record and to prevent confusion in the enforcement of the statute. The order of July 6, 1921 was designed to remove the manifest conflict between the provisions of the statute and the provisions of the administrative order, and since the language of the statute is clear and explicit, administrative officers of this Government are of the opinion that they do not have power at this time to suspend its operation.

As regards the negotiation of a treaty or treaties dealing with the matter, I desire to state that the question of the continuance of the [Page 296] negotiations on this subject is receiving careful consideration and I shall not fail to communicate with you again regarding it as soon as possible.

Accept [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Henry P. Fletcher
  1. Citation in parentheses added by the Secretary of State.