The British Chargé (Chilton) to the Secretary of State

No. 822

Sir: With reference to my note No. 764 of September 6th relative to the Northern Pacific Halibut Fishery Convention, I have the [Page 477] honour, at the request of His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada, to draw your attention to the difficulties arising out of the present uncertainty whether the close season provided for by the Convention will, or will not, be effective this year.

The Governor-General of Canada points out that preparations for continuing fishery throughout the winter have to be made a considerable time beforehand. It will thus be appreciated that if there is to be a close season this year—which would presumably begin on November 16th, the date specified in the Convention—it is important that fishermen and others have reasonable warning before the closing actually takes place, so that they may avoid incurring much expense in needless preparatory arrangements for winter fishing.

On the other hand, if there is to be no close season in the coming winter fishermen and buyers are equally embarrassed as, owing to the uncertainty that now exists, they cannot make their usual contracts for obtaining and delivering supplies of halibut. Further, I understand that all those directly connected with the industry both in the United States and in Canada are agreed not only as to the great need for the protection prescribed in the Convention but as to the desirability of such protection becoming effective this year.

But, as far as I am aware, the United States Senate will not meet until sometime in December, so that, even if the Senate were then to withdraw their previous resolution and to ratify the Convention in the form in which it was signed, it would appear impossible to put the Convention into effect this year. If this is so, the Dominion Government feel strongly that some immediate action is necessary in order that some measure of protection may be afforded during the coming winter. The Governor-General has, therefore, informed me that if the Government of the United States will be prepared immediately to take such action as may be within their power to prohibit the landing in the United States ports of halibut taken in the Pacific during the three months beginning November 16th next, pending ratification of the treaty by the United States Senate, the Government of Canada will likewise be prepared, on their part, to prohibit the landing in Canada of halibut caught in the Pacific during the said three months.

In these circumstances, I have the honour to ask you to be so good as to inform me, at the earliest possible moment, whether the United States Government are in a position to take the action suggested by the Dominion Government and, if so, whether they would be good enough to do so with the least possible delay in order to avoid further embarrassment to the Pacific halibut fishing industry.

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On the other hand, should the United States Government find it impossible to take such action as a measure of temporary relief and in the event of there being no likelihood of the Convention being resubmitted to the Senate in time to make it effective this year, the Governor-General of Canada requests me to enquire whether the United States Government would agree to an intimation being sent out to the Pacific halibut fishing industry from Ottawa and Washington simultaneously on October 1st next to the effect that there will be no close season this year.

I have [etc.]

H. G. Chilton