818.0145/7–2748: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Costa Rica


A–151. Reference Embassy’s despatch no. 375, July 28, 1948.1 Issuance of continental shelf decree no. 116 is of concern to the Department. For the United States position regarding Costa Rican claim of high seas jurisdiction for fisheries conservation refer to Embassy’s despatch no. 69 of August 14, 1947,2 especially text of the Embassy’s Aide-Mémoire left at the Foreign Office June 18, 1947.3 For United States fisheries proclamation and its general principles refer to Department’s circular instruction of October 17, 1945.4

Decree 116 almost identical to Chilean decree of June 23, 1947 respecting which the United States entered reservations at Santiago July 2, 1948.5 The United States also filed reservations in July respecting Argentine and Peruvian shelf decrees.6 The basis for the United [Page 264] States reservations was that the United States proclamation contemplated no general extension of territorial waters. The United States must reserve its rights and interests when a State (1) claims national sovereignty over the seas outside the generally accepted limits of territorial waters and (2) fails to accord appropriate and adequate recognition to United States fishing rights and interests in the high seas. The Department is studying advisability of immediate formal reservations regarding Decree 116.

Meanwhile, Decree 116 is apparently not self-executing and will require further regulations before there is any authorized interference with United States fishing vessels outside the three-mile limit. Any such interference would be a matter of serious concern to this Government. Therefore, in the interests of continued good relations, the Embassy is authorized to make friendly representations to appropriate Costa Rican officials now before the regulations are issued and incidents occur.

The Embassy should emphasize that lengthy extensive United States historic fishing interest in high seas tuna off Costa Rica precludes United States recognition of unilateral Costa Rican conservation jurisdiction and that United States-Costa Rica fisheries treaty is prerequisite to establishment of high seas zone off Costa Rica.

Impress Foreign Office that the United States would look with favor on negotiation of a fisheries agreement with Costa Rica whereby a high seas conservation zone off Costa Rica might be established and fishing regulations issued in accordance with principles set forth in Aide-Mémoire of June 18, 1947.

Embassy is requested to wire continuing information respecting above subjects.

  1. Not printed; it transmitted a copy of Decree No. 116, issued by the Junta, which extended Costa Rican sovereignty for 200 miles over the seas adjacent to its coasts and insular possessions (818.0145/7–2848).
  2. Not printed.
  3. See telegram 189, June 6, 1947, to the Embassy in Costa Rica, in Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. viii, p. 598. The Chargé in Costa Rica (Carrigan) reported in telegram 254, June 18, 4 p. m., not printed, that he had delivered an aide-mémoire along the lines of Department’s telegram 189, June 6, respecting extension of territorial waters (818.628A/6–1847).
  4. See press release issued by the White House, September 28, 1945, concerning issuance of two proclamations, (1) asserting jurisdiction of the United States over the natural resources of the continental shelf under the high seas contiguous to the coasts of the United States and its territories, and (2) protection of fisheries in certain areas of the high seas contiguous to the United States, in Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 1528.
  5. For the note of July 2, 1948, by the Embassy in Chile to the Chilean Foreign Office with respect to the Decree issued by the President of the Republic of Chile on June 25, 1947, see Department of State pub. 7825, Digest of International Law, vol. 4, p. 796.
  6. For note of July 2, 1948, by the Embassy in Argentina to the Argentine Foreign Office with respect to the Declaration of the President of the Argentine Nation on October 11, 1946, concerning the industrial utilization of the resources of the continental shelf and the coastal seas, see ibid., p. 793. For note of July 2, 1948, by the Embassy in Peru to the Peruvian Foreign Office concerning the Decree of the President of the Republic issued on August 1, 1947, concerning the conservation of the resources of the continental shelf and the coastal seas, see ibid., p. 798.