The American Delegates to the Secretary of State

No. 640

Sir: The International Whaling Conference convened on June 14, 1938, in London under the chairmanship of Mr. Henry G. Maurice, Fisheries Secretary, British Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Right Honorable William S. Morrison, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, delivered the opening address, a copy of which is enclosed,12 but attended no further meetings.

The business of the Conference was concluded on June 24 with the signature of the 1938 Protocol amending the 1937 International Agreement for the Regulation of Whaling, and of the Final Act of the Conference.13 Copies of each are enclosed. Both the Protocol and the Final Act were signed by the accredited representatives of the Governments of the Union of South Africa, the United States of America, the Argentine Republic, the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Eire, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, New Zealand and Norway. Denmark, France, and Japan were represented during the meetings of the Conference by delegates; Portugal was represented by an observer; and the interests of Newfoundland were in the hands of the British delegation. The Conference was informed by the Japanese delegation that their Government was prepared to take the necessary legislative and other measures to enable them to accede to the 1937 London Agreement and the 1938 Protocol after an interval of one year, and that their Government was prepared to observe the principles of the present Agreement as nearly as possible until that time. The Government of Denmark has given notice of its intention of obtaining the necessary powers to accede to the 1937 London Agreement and the 1938 Protocol. The French delegation notified the Conference that their Government was prepared [Page 958] to accede to the 1937 London Agreement and the 1938 Protocol subject to two reservations, the first limiting the term “land station” to a fixed or anchored construction which cannot subsequently be employed as a pelagic factory ship, and the second reserving the right to establish or maintain three land stations in French possessions in the Southern Hemipshere.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The United States production is small in proportion to the world total and is consumed entirely in the United States.

The Conference as a whole, in the opinion of the delegation of the United States, recognized that under the present Agreement the number of whales killed annually was so great as to threaten the perpetuation of the whale stock. While appreciating this danger, both from the biological and the commercial viewpoint, the delegates could not agree, under the existing conditions, on any measures which would impose restrictions drastic enough to strike a reasonable balance between the number killed annually and the natural increase of the stock.

Now that all countries having an important interest in the production of whale oil have become parties to the International Agreement for the Regulation of Whaling, further progress may well be anticipated in the acceptance of necessary measures of conservation.

Respectfully yours,

  • Herschel V. Johnson
  • Remington Kellogg
  • Wilfrid N. Derby
  1. Not printed.
  2. For text of the Final Act of the Conference, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 944.