The Chargé in Ecuador (Sparks) to the Secretary of State

No. 590

Sir: With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 182 of October 23, 1936, directing that I acknowledge the receipt of a note No. 134 of October 6, 1936, from the Ecuadorean Foreign Office with respect to the operations of American fishing vessels in the territorial waters and marginal seas of Ecuador, I have the honor to transmit herewith for the information of the Department a copy of my note No. 121 of October 31, 1936.

I have the honor further to report that at the regular diplomatic reception on Thursday, November 5th, I availed myself of the opportunity to express to the Foreign Minister the hope that his Government might find it possible to accept the contention of the American Government in the premises. He replied that he would look into the matter personally, but that he was in doubt with regard to the practice followed by the United States during prohibition when we exercised jurisdiction within twelve miles rather than the usually accepted three-mile limit. I explained that the United States has never asserted the right to exercise jurisdiction beyond the three-mile limit and that in the case in question we had sought, by the conclusion of conventions, the consent of individual maritime states to board their vessels within the distances specified therein solely for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the vessels were endeavoring to import intoxicating liquors into the United States in violation of the laws there in force. I considered it desirable to furnish the Minister a copy of one of these conventions, and I enclose herewith a copy of my third person note55 transmitting the convention concluded with Chile56 on this subject.

Respectfully yours,

Edward J. Sparks
[Page 531]
[Enclosure 1]

The American Chargé (Sparks) to the Ecuadoran Minister for Foreign Affairs (Chiriboga)

No. 121

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of note No. 134 of October 6, 1936, in which Your Excellency informs me that certain vessels of American registry have proceeded to the Galapagos Islands for the purpose of fishing clandestinely in Ecuadorean territorial waters. Tour Excellency adds that the Government of Ecuador is determined to take repressive measures against such vessels and requests that my Government caution the fishing companies of the necessity of avoiding disagreeable situations which might arise should they fish in Ecuadorean waters without complying with Ecuadorean regulations governing such fishing.

Acting under instructions from my Government, I hasten to inform Your Excellency that the United States Government has noted and would be most happy to comply with this request of the Ecuadorean Government, but before doing so desires to point out that it must insist on its contention raised in the Legation’s note No. 16 of June 7, 1935, that the United States Government “can not admit the right of the Ecuardorean Government to apply its fishing regulations to American vessels beyond the belt of three miles from low water mark” on Ecuadorean territory. My Government is awaiting with considerable interest the final reply of the Ecuadorean Government to the above-mentioned note, and desires to express the hope that the Ecuadorean Government will find it possible to accept the contention of my Government, thus harmonizing Ecuadorean regulations respecting the exercise of jurisdiction over territorial waters with the practice followed by most foreign nations and generally recognized under the rules of international law.

I am also instructed by my Government to inquire when I may expect a reply to the points raised with respect to the specific case of the American fishing vessel Seaboy, contained in my note above mentioned and later referred to in the Legation’s note No. 70, of May 22, 1936.

I avail myself [etc.]

Edward J. Sparks
[Enclosure 2]

The American Chargé to the Ecuadoran Minister for Foreign Affairs (Chiriboga)

The Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the United States of America presents his compliments to His Excellency the Minister for Foreign Affairs and, in referring to his conversation of yesterday relative to the [Page 532] definition of territorial seas, has the honor to enclose herewith an extract from the Spanish text of the Convention concluded between the United States of America and the Republic of Chile on May 27th, 1930,57 for the prevention of smuggling of intoxicating liquors. This Convention is along the lines of similar ones concluded with other maritime nations for the same purpose. His Excellency will observe that the Government of the United States of America does not assert the right to exercise its jurisdiction over the waters beyond the three mile limit. On the contrary, the express purpose of the Convention is to obtain from the Republic of Chile its consent to the boarding of its private vessels within the distance provided in Article II, with the end in view of ascertaining whether the vessel or those on board are endeavoring to import or have imported alcoholic beverages into the United States in violation of the laws there in force.

Edward J. Sparks avails himself [etc.]