The British Chargé ( Chilton ) to the Secretary of State

No. 995

Sir: At the request of His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada, I have the honour to inform you that the Dominion Government has had under consideration the system of granting modus vivendi licenses to United States fishing vessels for the purpose of enabling them to purchase bait, ice, seines, lines and all other supplies, and also for the transshipment of catch and the shipping of crews.

Lord Byng of Vimy desires me to point out that the legislation under which this system was established was enacted by the Parliament of Canada in 1892, and from that date until the year 1918 licenses were regularly issued to United States vessels in accordance with its provisions. During that period attempts were made to [Page 483] secure for Canadian fishermen some privileges in United States ports. The efforts in this direction were unsuccessful until the year 1918, when arrangements were concluded on the recommendation of the International Fisheries Commission appointed that year whereby privileges were granted reciprocally in either country to the fishing vessels of the other.10 These privileges were extended in both the United States and Canada under the provisions of war legislation.

When the United States war legislation ceased to be effective on the 1st July, 1921, however, the privileges enjoyed by Canadian fishing vessels in the ports of the United States were terminated.11 The Government of Canada were at that time urged from many quarters to adopt a similar course as a matter of sound public policy but took the view that the privileges of using Canadian ports which had been extended to United States vessels for upwards of thirty years should not be terminated hastily. In deciding to continue the policy effective since 1892, the Dominion Government were influenced by the hope that the United States Government would ultimately recognise that Canada was entitled to some compensation for the privileges extended to United States vessels in Canadian ports, and further, that it would be recognised that the granting of reciprocal privileges during the years from 1918 to 1921 had not prejudicially affected any United States interests, and that on further consideration the Government of the United States would be disposed to restore them. Such, however, was unfortunately not the case. The United States Government have not only not made provision for the restoration of the arrangement of 1918, but have by tariff provisions imposed additional duties upon Canadian fish seeking the markets of this country.

In the meantime renewed demands for the termination of the privileges now enjoyed by United States fishing vessels in Canadian Atlantic ports have reached the Dominion Government from many quarters.

After the most careful consideration the Canadian Government have now decided that as from the 31st of December, 1923, licenses as provided by Section 3 of Chapter 47 of the Revised Statutes of Canada shall not issue to fishing vessels of the United States but that instead thereof, the provisions of the Treaty of 1818 shall be effective as from that date.

I have [etc.]

H. G. Chilton
  1. For recommendations of the Commission, see Foreign Relations, 1918, pp. 441457.
  2. See ibid., 1921, vol. i, pp. 288 ff.