Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Eugene H. Dooman, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State (Dunn)

Mr. Mahoney33 called today at my request.

I first expressed regret that there had been unexpectedly long delay in resuming the friendly discussions between officers of the American and Canadian Governments concerning our common interests in the general field of international fisheries. Since the interruption of these discussions last summer,34 the interested agencies of this Government had occupied themselves with the formulation of a basic fishery policy, the general character of which was known to the Canadian Government; a basic policy had now been agreed upon and would in due course [Page 1494] be promulgated. Before announcing the policy, it was the desire of this Government that other interested Governments be made acquainted with it and thus be given an opportunity to study the policy and adopt it or otherwise appropriately associate themselves with this Government in the matter. It was, therefore, our intention early next week to supply the text of the fishery policy, along with a brief explanatory statement, to the British, French, Soviet, and other interested European and Latin American Governments. Having regard, however, to the close collaboration thus far maintained between the American and Canadian Governments with respect to international fisheries, we thought it proper to communicate the text to the Canadian Government before communicating it to any other Government. It was our hope that the Canadian Government could see its way clear to adopt the policy and to make efforts parallel to our own toward adoption of the policy by other interested countries.

I added that we also have had preliminary informal conversations with the Mexican Government and that we expected to hand tomorrow the text of the policy statement to the Mexican Embassy.35

In handing the text36 to Mr. Mahoney, I also gave him a copy of the longer explanatory statement prepared by Mr. Bishop.37 I said that we did not propose to supply this statement, in the first instance at any rate, to any of the European countries.

Mr. Mahoney said that he would today inform his Government of the substance of my remarks and forward to Ottawa the papers I had given him. He wished, however, to say that the political position in Canada at the present moment was not favorable to any early action on this matter by the Canadian Government: the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet are now in San Francisco38 and, further, a general election is to take place early in June. He could [Page 1495] not, therefore, hold out any great hope of any decision being taken by the Canadian Government before the general elections.

I then told Mr. Mahoney that there was another matter which we would be glad to have him bring to the knowledge of his Government.

This Government has also determined upon a policy which would assert jurisdiction over the mineral resources of the continental shelf. We assumed that this would not be of direct interest to Canada. It was however, a matter of considerable importance to the United States. Oil wells have been in operation for some time off the coast of California and in the Gulf of Mexico, and recent technological advances permit of drilling in waters of great depth. Although we were not aware of any areas off the coasts of Canada which could be exploited, it seemed to us that the adoption by Canada of a fishery policy similar to our own would make it desirable for the Canadian Government to know of our position in respect to another matter relating to jurisdiction beyond territorial limits. It would, of course, be most gratifying to us if the Canadian Government could see its way clear to going along with us also on this latter policy.

I then handed Mr. Mahoney the text of the policy statement39 and the pertinent explanatory statement.40 He said that he would forward these papers also to Ottawa with appropriate comment.41

Mr. Parsons informed Mr. Mahoney that Mr. Atherton42 had been requested to call this afternoon at the Department of External Affairs and to make a statement with regard to fisheries along the lines just made to Mr. Mahoney.

E[ugene] H. D[ooman]
  1. Merchant Mahoney, Counselor of the Canadian Embassy. J. Graham Parsons, Assistant Chief of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs, was present at the conversation.
  2. See footnote 25, p. 1489.
  3. Mr. Dooman and John W. Carrigan, Chief of the Division of Mexican Affairs, conferred with Carlos Chapoy Vidaurri, Third Secretary of the Mexican Embassy, on April 27. Texts of the proposed decisions regarding coastal fisheries and the subsoil and sea bed of the Continental Shelf along with explanatory statements were presented at that time. Additional texts were sent by the Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) on May 1 as enclosures to instruction 7362, not printed. According to this instruction, the Mexican representative was informed that memoranda on fisheries and the Continental Shelf had been given to the Canadian Government but that conversations on the Continental Shelf “were to be held in this respect with the Government of Mexico only and that this Government trusted that the Government of Mexico would find it practicable and possible to adopt a similar policy.” (811.0145/5–145)
  4. See annex 1 attached to the memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Interior to President Roosevelt, p. 1492.
  5. Post, p. 1496.
  6. The United Nations Conference on International Organization was held in San Francisco from April 25 to June 26.
  7. See annex 2 attached to the memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Interior to President Roosevelt, p. 1492.
  8. Post, p. 1499.
  9. The four documents were also transmitted by the Acting Secretary of State to the Consul General at St. John’s, Newfoundland (Hopper), on May 10, with the request that they be handed to the Newfoundland Commissioner for Natural Resources, P. D. H. Dunn.
  10. Ray Atherton, American Ambassador in Canada.