711.008 North Pacific/185½

Memorandum by Mr. Leo D. Sturgeon of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs

The attached report68 which deals with the problem presented by the prospects of Japanese participation in the salmon fisheries of Alaska is based upon an investigation carried out between the dates July 30 and August 11 by Consul Leo D. Sturgeon in behalf of the Department of State in cooperation with Mr. Charles E. Jackson, Deputy Commissioner of Fisheries, and Dr. Ward T. Bower, Chief of the Alaska office of the Bureau of Fisheries, and with the assistance of Mr. W. C. Arnold, a representative of the Alaska salmon canning industry.

The general itinerary of the investigation extended from Seattle, Washington, to the Bristol Bay area with stops at intermediate fishing centers. After reaching Unalaska, Mr. Sturgeon and Mr. Arnold conducted their investigation independently of the offices of the Bureau of Fisheries.

Pages 1 to 31 of the report contain a chronological account of the course of investigation beginning with a conference at Seattle attended by representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries, United States Coast Guard and Navy and of the American Pacific coast fishing interests. At this conference and at subsequent conferences with representatives of the American fishing industry at each place in Alaska visited by Mr. Sturgeon, as well as in subsequent conferences [Page 760] at Seattle upon his return, Mr. Sturgeon had an opportunity thoroughly to canvass the views of the American fishing interests on the subject of his investigation. These views are summarized and the conclusions based thereon are set forth on pages 32 to 37 of the report. The conclusions briefly stated are as follows:

That despite the lack of conclusive evidence, American fisheries interests are convinced that Japanese fishing vessels have begun salmon fishing in Bristol Bay and that Bristol Bay is exposed to fishing methods available to the Japanese.
That Bristol Bay is menaced by the prospects of more intensive Japanese operations which will eventually deplete the salmon supply and thus deal a severe blow to the American salmon fishing industry, affecting adversely the prosperity of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
That in order to insure protection of the salmon supply, it will be necessary to control fishing operations for a long distance outside territorial waters; the exact distance to which such control need be extended cannot be determined until a thorough scientific study of the movements of salmon has been made.
That the American Government, as a means of inducing Japan to assent to such control, should stress the thesis that the salmon resources of Alaska are vital to large sections of the American people.

On the basis of the investigation which is reported and studies previously made by the Department, it is recommended that:

Adequate facilities be provided to enable the Bureau of Fisheries to undertake, during the next fishing season at the latest, investigations with a view to the assembling of complete scientific data in regard to salmon fishing in Bristol Bay, and that such investigations be conducted with particular regard to the migration habits of salmon, and the possibilities of salmon fishing in such off-shore areas as may become the subject of negotiation with Japan; if necessary, the President be asked to request Congress for an appropriation for this purpose.
Instructions be sent to the Ambassador at Tokyo to follow up his previous approach to the Japanese Government and to make further representations in regard to the urgency of arriving at a solution of the Bristol Bay salmon fishing problem.
Upon entering into conversations with the Japanese Government, only interim arrangements be proposed pending the outcome of the investigation mentioned in (1) above.

  1. Not printed.