The British Ambassador (Geddes) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 667

Sir: In my note No. 337 of May 18th [19th], in regard to arrangements being made by the Canadian Government to permit the continuance of certain privileges accorded to United States fishing vessels, I had the honour again to bring to Mr. Hughes’ attention the earnest desire of the Canadian Government that negotiations for the settlement of all outstanding fishery questions between the United States and Canada should be taken up anew at the earliest possible moment. This matter continues to be one of grave concern to the [Page 674] Government of Canada and I now have the honour at their request to bring the following representations to your attention.

The Canadian Government have noted with regret that there appears to be little likelihood that the United States Government will find it possible at an early date to arrange for the signing of the draft treaty concerning port privileges of fishing vessels, protection of halibut fishery, lobster fishing, etc., a copy of which was transmitted to Mr. Lansing with Mr. Lindsay’s note No. 815 of November 10th, 1919.5 It will be remembered that Article VII of that draft treaty provides for the protection of the rapidly declining halibut fishery of the Pacific Coast by the enforcement of a close season by the two countries for halibut fishing from the sixteenth of November in each year to the fifteenth of February following, both days inclusive, for a term of years. It further provides for joint investigation into the life history of the halibut as well as for the appointment of a Joint Commission to supervise such investigations and to recommend such modifications in the close season as the information that would be obtained might indicate to be necessary. The report of the International Fisheries Commission on which this draft was based shows that there was remarkable unanimity of opinion amongst those engaging in the different branches of the fishery on both sides of the line, as to the wisdom of this close season, and the experience of intervening years has served to emphasize the urgent need of it, if this fishery, which is of great value to both countries, is to be saved from commercial exhaustion.

The Canadian Government regrets indeed that the United States Government has not found it possible up to the moment to deal finally with this treaty as a whole. In view, however, of the importance to both countries of affording the halibut fishery proper protection and of the fact that there is apparently no difference of opinion in either country as to the wisdom of steps for such protection being undertaken at once, they are anxious to ascertain whether the United States Government is prepared at an early date to enter into a treaty which will deal with the Pacific halibut fishery alone in the manner contemplated by Article VII of the draft treaty, with the modifications in detail necessitated by dealing with it as a separate issue.

It would be superfluous for me again to emphasize the importance to both countries of an early settlement in regard to this matter and I should accordingly be most grateful if you would be so good as to inform me whether this proposal of the Government of Canada is agreeable to the United States Government.

I have [etc.]

(For the Ambassador)
H. G. Chilton