The Secretary of State to the Minister in Canada (Armour)

No. 950

Sir: There are enclosed herewith for the information and use of the Legation two copies of the International Agreement for the Regulation of Whaling signed at London on June 8, 1937, by the United States, the Union of South Africa, the Argentine Republic, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Irish Free State, New Zealand and Norway (Executive U, 75th Congress, 1st Session). The injunction of secrecy has been removed from the document. The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on August 5, 1937, and the President ratified the Agreement on August 13, 1937. The ratification of the United States has been forwarded to London for deposit with the British Foreign Office, as required by Article 19 of the Agreement.

The agreement of June 8, 1937, supplements and extends but does not supplant or impair the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling concluded at Geneva September 24, 1931, to which both Canada and the United States are signatory and ratifying countries. That convention is reprinted in the enclosed document (pages 29–37).

At the conference at London May 24–June 8, 1937, Canada was represented by an observer who did not sign the agreement. In Article 22 it is provided that any Government which has not signed the agreement may accede thereto at any time after the agreement has come into force.

In paragraph 9 of the Final Act, the conference recommended that the contracting Governments should take steps to prevent the agreement and any regulations made thereunder from being defeated by the transfer of ships registered in their territories to the flag of another Government not a party to the agreement, and suggested that for this purpose it might be provided by each party to the agreement that the transfer of a factory ship or whale catcher from its national flag to the flag of any other country should be permitted only under license of the Government under whose flag the ship was already registered. The laws of the United States now require ships documented thereunder to obtain approvals from the Maritime Commission [Page 928] before transferring their registration to a foreign flag, which it is believed cover the situation contemplated by paragraph 9 of the Final Act. The appropriate administrative Departments of the Government will, however, give careful consideration to the recommendation of the conference and to the existing legislation with a view to determining whether any amendments should be made in the law now in force with a view to strengthening it.

In paragraph 10 of the Final Act, the conference expressed the hope that the Governments which had representatives present at the conference who did not sign the agreement will eventually accede to the agreement and urged the contracting Governments to use their utmost endeavors to secure the adhesion of such powers as are interested in the whaling industry but were not represented at the conference.

The Department understands that six or more whale catchers of American registration operate in or near Alaskan waters in connection with Alaskan shore stations and that one or more floating factory ships documented under the laws of the United States are operating on distant oceans. It foresees that, if Canada does not become a party to the new whaling agreement, some of these ships may seek registration under the Canadian flag with a view to being free with respect to those provisions of the new agreement which place greater restrictions on the taking and killing of whales than are placed on such taking and killing under the convention of 1931. It may therefore be a matter of considerable importance to the United States in giving complete effect to the provisions of the agreement of June 8, 1937, that Canada also should become a party to that agreement.

The Department would be glad if you could mention the above stated situation informally and confidentially to the appropriate officials of the Canadian Government leaving with them one of the enclosed copies of the Senate Document. You should inform them that the United States has ratified the whaling agreement of June 8, 1937, and that its ratification has been forwarded to London for deposit with the British Foreign Office. You might inquire whether the agreement is of sufficient interest to the Canadian Government for that Government to have given consideration to adhering to it, and also whether, in the event that any American whaling ships, whether factory ships or whale catchers, should undertake to register under the Canadian flag, the Canadian Government could suspend decision with reference to any such application and would inform the United States of it.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
R. Walton Moore