The Canadian Minister (Massey) to the Secretary of State

No. 34

Sir: It will be recalled that as a result of prolonged discussion a conference between representatives of Canada and the United States was held in Washington on the 26th. of February 1926, to discuss the [Page 75] possibility of arranging a satisfactory settlement of the fisheries questions outstanding between the two countries.44 It was agreed at that conference that the matters discussed would be further considered by the United States Government, following which a communication could be addressed to His Majesty’s Government in Canada. Up to the present no such communication has been received by His Majesty’s Government in Canada.

In view of the conditions under which the fisheries are conducted, it is inevitable that they should be a source of international difficulties unless a full and comprehensive agreement is reached as to the rights, privileges, and methods to be exercised by the vessels and nationals of each country. The desirability of reaching such an accord need not be emphasized.

The fisheries of Canada and the United States are so intimately related that in certain instances they cannot be conserved and properly developed, except by co-operative action by the two countries. A realization of this fact has already resulted in the Pacific Halibut Treaty.45 The more that is learned regarding the life history of the different species of Pacific salmon, the clearer it is becoming that,—apart altogether from the Fraser river system, where the need for international action is recognised and a treaty to provide for it is being negotiated,46—co-operative effort in extra-territorial waters is essential to the proper conservation and conduct of these fisheries. The development of quick freezing seems to leave no room for doubt that fresh fish, in as good condition as when it was removed from the water, can be economically sent, not only to all parts of this continent, but practically to all parts of the world. This must surely result in making the main problem for all concerned, in the very near future, one of obtaining adequate supplies, rather than of markets.

That the present situation is unsatisfactory and is likely to lead to embarrassing difficulties is evidenced by the fact that on the Atlantic United States vessels are constantly applying for special privileges in waters and ports under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada. Such privileges were, in fact, granted as a result of applications received through United States consular or other governmental officials to some twenty-six United States vessels there in 1927. On the Pacific coast, notwithstanding repeated warnings, it recently became necessary to seize certain United States salmon trolling boats to prevent the unlawful use of Canadian ports. In protesting against these seizures the Association of Trolling Vessel Owners (a United States [Page 76] organisation) stated, in substance, that the strict enforcement of existing treaty requirements would make it impossible for them to carry on their industry with success.

It is equally evident that the termination of the privileges now granted to United States halibut vessels on the Pacific coast would have a most serious effect upon that industry. This fact has recently been made very clear by the statements of the United States Fishing Vessels Owners’ Association. On the other hand, the continuance of these privileges under existing conditions is for obvious reasons unsatisfactory to the Canadian fishing vessels there.

It is the opinion of the Government of Canada that the problem of maintaining an adequate supply of marine products will shortly become the most important problem facing the industry in both countries, though the question of reciprocal access to markets is a phase of the situation which appears to require consideration.

I have the honour to state that I have been instructed to inform you that His Majesty’s Government in Canada, having regard to the importance from all standpoints of a satisfactory solution of outstanding fishery questions being found, and in consideration of the developments which have taken place since the previous conference in 1926, desires to learn whether the Government of the United States would be prepared to participate in a further conference between fully accredited representatives of the two governments. Keeping in view the approach of another fishing season, it is suggested that some date in March or early in April would be a suitable occasion for the convening of such a conference.

I shall be glad if you will be good enough to inform me at any early date of the views on this question of the Government of the United States.

I have [etc.]

Vincent Massey
  1. Correspondence not printed.
  2. See convention between the United States of America and Great Britain, signed at Washington, March 2, 1923, Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, p. 468; see also discussion of proposed convention to replace the same, ante, pp. 60 ff.
  3. See pp. 55 ff.