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

Mr. Phillips: The memorandum submitted to President Roosevelt and approved by him on March 31, 1944 [1945] contemplated that the statements of policy should be made known informally to those governments “whose concurrence is desirable, namely, Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, USSR, Great Britain, and Cuba.” Conformably to the directive issued by the Acting Secretary on April 24, 1945, copies of the policy statements on coastal fisheries and continental shelf were handed to representatives of the Missions in Washington of the following countries on the dates indicated.

Canada April 26
Mexico April 27
United Kingdom May 9
* Netherlands May 10
* Norway May 11
* France May 11
Soviet Union May 12
* Iceland May 15
* Denmark May 16
* Cuba May 16
* Portugal May 17

There has been no definitive reply from any one of the countries. The Department has been in close touch with the Canadian Government during the formulation of the coastal fishery policy and it may therefore be assumed that failure to hear from the Canadian Government may be explained by the elections recently held in Canada.

Our records indicate that in handing copies of the papers to the representatives of the Missions above listed, it was made clear in each instance that it was our expectation to make public the proposed policy statements “in the near future, possibly in the middle of June.”

With reference to the statement in the memorandum submitted to the President that there should be promulgation of the documents “within a period of two months from the date of your approval after consultation with the foreign government concerned”, it is believed that the following quotation from the Secretary’s letter of December 19, 1944 to the Secretary of the Interior will indicate the character of the “consultation” that there was then contemplated.

“From the standpoint of our foreign relations with Canada, especially, it would be desirable to avoid public unilateral action by our [Page 1511] Government until the Canadian Government has been informed of the action proposed.”

The importance of informing the Canadian Government was later enlarged to include the countries mentioned in the previous quotation from the memorandum submitted to the President. Along with the countries mentioned, a number of other countries have been informed on the coastal fishery policy.

There appears to be some serious misconception of the character of the two policies. The coastal fishery policy is not designed to safeguard exclusive U.S. utilization of the fisheries off our coast: on the contrary, it calls for the making of agreements with countries whose nationals have hitherto operated in the respective conservation zones. In connection with the continental shelf policy, I believe that the following quotation from the memorandum of my conversation with the British Minister52 will tend to keep the matter in accurate perspective:

“It was not our desire to reserve the resources of the continental shelf to nationals of this country any more than it was the policy of the United States to exclude foreigners from participating in the exploitation of the mineral resources of the United States itself. Our primary concern was to assert the necessary control over such operations off the coasts of the United States to guard against the depletion of our mineral resources and to regulate, from point of view of security, the activities of foreigners in proximity to our coast.”

With reference to the suggestion that was made elsewhere that President Roosevelt was not directly interested in the two policies mentioned, it may be of interest to you to note the memorandum from President Roosevelt to the Secretary of State dated June 9, 1943, a copy of which is attached.53

Eugene H. Dooman
  1. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  2. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  4. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  5. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  6. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  7. Coastal Fisheries Policy only. [Footnote in the original.]
  8. Dated May 9, p. 1504.
  9. Ante, p. 1482.