Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Interior (Ickes) to President Truman

Subject: Resources of the Continental Shelf and Coastal Fisheries

Shortly before his death President Roosevelt approved the attached memorandum44 which submitted to him formulae prepared by the Departments of State and of the Interior.

The effect of the adoption of these formulae will be to assert jurisdiction and control over the mineral and other resources under the sea bed of the continental shelf, and to assert the policy of establishing conservation zones for the protection of coastal fishery resources. These zones are to be controlled and regulated exclusively by the United States in areas where only our nationals have developed and maintained fishing activities on a substantial scale. In areas where [Page 1504] legitimate fishery activities have been developed and maintained by nationals of other countries, their rights are safeguarded and such countries are permitted to join in the regulation and control. The right of other countries to establish similar conservation zones off their shores in accordance with the same principles is conceded.

President Roosevelt also approved the following program of procedure: First, discussions with Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, U.S.S.R., Great Britain, and Cuba to learn the views of these Governments before any steps should be taken to give publicity to the policy, and an effort to obtain their concurrence in the policy. Second, the report of the results to the President and the preparation of necessary documents for his signature. Third, a discussion between the President or, if he should prefer, the Secretaries of State and Interior, or both, with appropriate members of the House and Senate before releasing the documents.

May we have your instruction as to whether you approve the course outlined and wish the two Departments to proceed?45

Joseph C. Grew

I recommend reaffirmation by you of the policy approved by President Roosevelt in the attached memorandum and I urge that the Secretary of State be instructed to proceed promptly to consult the remaining foreign governments concerned in order that the original two months’ schedule be met and appropriate documents submitted to you on May 31, 1945.

Harold L. Ickes
  1. Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Interior to President Roosevelt, January 22, 1945, p. 1490.
  2. At the end of this document appear the following queries and opinions; the handwriting is apparently that of President Truman. “What effect on resources up to the 3 mile limit? Does this recognize State control to low tide? Federal control should exist beyond low tide I think.” Almost the same phraseology was repeated in a memorandum of May 4, 1945, from President Truman to the Acting Secretary of State, not printed.