The American Delegates to the Conference on the Regulation of Whaling (Johnson, Richmond, Walsh) to the Secretary of State


Sir: The Informal International Whaling Conference convened on July 17, 1939 in London under the chairmanship of Mr. A. T. A. Dobson, Fisheries Secretary, British Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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Considerable difficulty was encountered in reaching an agreement on a method of giving effect to the various resolutions. Since Resolution I involves an amendment to the Protocol of 1938, it was decided that the resolution would only be effective after its acceptance by all nations now signatory to the Protocol of 1938. This presented the difficulty that if any other nation accedes to the Protocol of 1938 prior to the coming into effect of this resolution, such a nation would not be bound by the resolution unless it voluntarily accepted the terms of [Page 50] the resolution at the time of accession to the Protocol of 1938. No formula could be worked out to obviate this difficulty and it was decided to attempt to handle the matter either by delaying the accession of other countries until this amendment comes into force, or by obtaining accession subject to the terms of the amendment.

It was felt that Resolution II does not involve any amendment to the Protocol of 1938, since the protection of the humpback whale provided thereunder lapses on September 30, 1939. This being so, the resolution does not, in effect, change the tenor of the Protocol of 1938, but stands virtually as a new agreement between the Governments signatory to the Report and Resolutions. For this reason it was thought desirable in the interest of expediency to recommend that it should come into effect upon receipt of notifications of acceptance by Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom, and not make it dependent upon acceptance by all nations signatory to the Protocol of 1938. Nations signatory to the Protocol of 1938 but not to the Report and Resolutions are not bound by the provisions of this resolution if adopted, but it was believed that such nations would comply therewith.

All of the delegations were fully aware that the Resolutions presented were merely a body of recommendations and did not constitute a binding agreement in any sense.

The Conference as a whole, in the opinion of the delegates of the United States, was in complete accord as to objectives, and the only disagreement arose out of variance of opinion as to the method of obtaining such objectives. The essential objectives of the Informal Conference were first to obtain the accession of Japan to the International Whaling Agreement of 1937 and the Protocol of 1938, and, second, to extend further protection to the humpback whale. Within the limits of the power of the Conference these objectives were obtained, and in addition thereto other ends were accomplished which it is believed should further the conservation of the whale stocks.

Respectfully yours,

Herschel V. Johnson
Alfred C. Richmond
Quentin R. Walsh

[Owing to the outbreak of war between the parties to the Whaling Conference, action for the acceptance of the resolutions adopted was not taken.]