562.8F2/41: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham) to the Secretary of State

277. From Johnson. Embassy’s 274, May 8, 2 p.m.5 Following is draft agenda for the International Conference on Whaling:

  • “1. Opening address by the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
  • 2. Discussion of results of the whaling season 1936–1937.
  • 3. Measures to be taken for the conservation of the whale stock in the Antarctic—
    During the season 1937–1938.
    For subsequent seasons.
  • 4. The position of countries participating in the Conference who are not at present parties to the International Whaling Convention of 24th September 1931.”

Following comments have been communicated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in strict confidence.

“The proposals put forward by the British delegates might include the following—

Open season of 3 months from 8th December to 7th March following, south of 40 degrees south latitude.
Complete prohibition of fishing for blue and fin whales during the whole year between the equator and 40 degrees south latitude.
The length below which blue and fin whales shall be regarded as immature be agreed at 75 feet for blue whales and 55 feet for fin whales.
The number of whales to be delivered to the factory ship at any time to be not greater than can be treated by the plant therein within a period of 24 nours efficiently.
The making by all countries participating in the Conference who have not ratified the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling for [of] 24th September 1931 for [of] regulations embodying in addition to the above the general conditions regarding whaling laid down in that convention.

If the question of the number catchers to be attached to each factory ship is raised it will be necessary for the British delegation to point out that at present there is no legislation in this country which would enable this to be enforced but that the question of containing such power is under consideration and that in the event of the power being obtained His Majesty’s Government are prepared to discuss such limitation for future seasons on the basis of the respective capacity of the factory ships.”

[Page 923]

In conversation with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries I gathered the impression that they are skeptical of achieving entirely satisfactory results at this Conference and that the attitude of Japan and her apparent intention to enlarge as much as possible her present whaling industry are causing them concern. It was frankly admitted that they are very desirous of preserving the British whaling industry from serious damage through ruthless competition but they are more troubled by the prospect of ultimate extinction of the blue whale unless effective international measures can be taken for its preservation. [Johnson.]

  1. Not printed.