818.628/10–2347: Airgram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Costa Rica


A–276. Reference is made to Embassy’s despatch No. 312, October 23, 1947 regarding suspension of the Costa Rican Fishery Decree promulgated in the Official Gazette on September 27, 1947, with particular reference to the last three paragraphs.

[Here follow data concerning planned purse seine tuna operations by American companies off the coast of Costa Rica.]

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At the moment the Department does not anticipate entering into fishery treaty discussions with Costa Rica. It would appear unlikely that Dr. Kask can take an active part on any treaty discussions since he is now serving as part-time consultant to the Department on the Northwest Atlantic Treaty Program and therefore would not be available to serve the Costa Rican Government until his service with the Department is terminated. Dr. Kask has agreed to serve with the Department until early spring, at which time he will accept the position as full-time permanent Chief Biologist to the Fisheries Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The thinking of the Department on the general question of fisheries relations between this Government and the Government of Costa Rica is along the following lines. While it is recognized that the appearance of American purse seiners off the coast or in the ports of Costa Rica may cause the controversy to be renewed, there appears a possibility that the Costa Rican Government will, under existing law and without further representations from the Embassy, permit the purse seiners to enter Costa Rican ports for supplies and for the transfer of fish and to make it possible for them to fish for tuna outside the territorial waters of Costa Rica. If the Govt of Costa Rica should grant such permission, it is probable that there would be no impediment to effective purse seine operation, and further discussion at this time between the Embassy and the officials of Costa Rica on these matters would be obviated. It seems appropriate that since the Embassy has made clear the views of this Govt on fisheries problems in Costa Rica, this Govt should avoid any further involvement in these policy questions so long as there is not actual undue interference with American commercial operations. However, should the American vessels find it difficult or impossible to carry on their operations, or should a change in circumstances warrant, it may be necessary for the Dept to request the Embassy to bring the matter again to the attention of the Government of Costa Rica. In the meantime the Embassy should, of course, extend the usual and normal courtesies to the American operators.