562.8F4/43: Telegram

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

317. From the Delegation to Whaling Conference. The Delegation met yesterday with British Delegation (including Maud of Food Ministry) and had a useful discussion of all points under consideration at Conference. Occasion was taken to inform British that several of amendments proposed, if adopted, would necessitate Department’s referring them to Senate for ratification; that this would mean a formal conference document; furthermore that we fully supported British desire to replenish oil stocks but felt that adequate safeguards against unexpected developments should at same time be provided.

At today’s second meeting of Conference Maud made general statement on over-all fats and oils situation, placing total annual losses in supplies available from Axis-held territories at 2,100,000 tons (including also 500,000 tons whale oil); this deficit had been met by rationing in Allied territories and by the cutting off of exports to Axis territory. He gave no information on whale or fish oil position but advanced tight position of fats and oils generally, particularly the anticipated relief needs as an argument for relaxing whaling restrictions as much as possible.

The American Delegation announced our full support of Ministry’s desires to increase production and replenish stocks of whale oil but subject to safeguards against an unexpectedly large kill of whales resulting from such relaxations.

Resuming discussions on Agenda set out in Embassy’s 65, 4th, Conference took the following action with regard to 1944–45 season:

  • Item (a), approved of extension of Antarctic season to cover period November 24 to March 24 inclusive.
  • Item (b), decided that no formal amendment of provisions relating to backmeat was required on grounds that this matter could be handled administratively.
  • Item (c), voted against reduction in size limit on sperm whales from 35 to 30 feet.
  • Item (d), approved the introduction of the embargo on taking humpback whales south of 40 degrees south latitude.
  • Item (e), voted against use of factory ships elsewhere after close of Antarctic season; the Australian representative abstained, intimating he must seek new instructions. We doubt Australia will oppose the general view.

Conference then discussed limitation of total Antarctic catch and approved a proposal by Norwegian delegate that a limit of 16,000 [Page 940] blue whale units should be adopted for the season 1944—5 and for subsequent seasons thereafter unless modified.

Conference thereupon appointed a drafting committee consisting of British, Norwegian and American representatives to draw up a draft final act embodying the above amendments which, it is proposed, Conference should approve at its next meeting on January 17 for submission to the respective governments with a view to signature before an early date which will be decided at next meeting.

Delegation has considered it necessary to use the authority granted in Department’s last instruction to take the view that relaxation should be accompanied with a limitation of total Antarctic catch and that a formal document would be necessary.

Department’s intention to call an international whaling conference was announced to Conference.

Department’s instructions will be required in connection with signature of final act which will be cabled as soon as approved.