320.22/12–3054: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


A–539. Subject: U.N. Fisheries Resolution. Reference is made to the approval by the Ninth General Assembly of a resolution sponsored by the United States, the United Kingdom, and a number of other countries providing for the convocation, under the auspices of the United Nations, of a specialized technical conference on high seas fisheries at Rome on April 18, 1955. The United Kingdom, in addition to being a co-sponsor, was one of the principal movers of the project, having been consulted at length by the United States at London during July, 1954 following origination of the idea by the United States.

As is well known to the British authorities concerned, the primary purpose of the conference is to set in motion world-wide consideration of the problems and principles of high seas fisheries conservation and management and thus remove this subject to the maximum possible extent from regional forums with extreme views and, in particular, from the area of individual state action. It is hoped that through the medium of a world-wide meeting involving the exchange of views and experience of the most qualified persons in this technical field, agreement upon an adequate and acceptable set of international procedures and principles can be promoted with some ameliorating effect upon the present trend toward individual, arbitrary state action.

The co-sponsors of the U.N. fisheries resolution in question, and other states whose interests in the problem are closely identified with those of the United States, will have to take the initiative in making a strong and plausible argument that an adequate and satisfactory fishery conservation program can be developed through cooperative design without the necessity of resorting to unilateral claims. The United States, as a leading and experienced nation in fisheries conservation, together with the United Kingdom, undoubtedly will have to carry the major share of the burden of presenting the case for the principles we would wish the conference to further. To facilitate our role in this respect, it is considered desirable to [Page 1732] arrange prior individual or joint consultations with the United Kingdom and other co-sponsors and supporters in the development of a common plan or approach at the conference. In this connection, we may be sure that certain opposition groups of states, especially in Latin America, will be aligning themselves against any conference recommendation which would undermine the proposition of “fishery conservation through ownership.”

The Department is prepared to authorize a representative to undertake such advance consultation or consultations with the appropriate countries. However, it would like to have the view of the British authorities as to how, when, and where it should be arranged. Moreover, the United Kingdom’s opinion on which particular countries it feels should be approached for this purpose would be appreciated. The timing would seem to depend on whether one or more multilateral sessions can be arranged to cover all the states to be included, or whether a number of individual states would have to be visited. In view of the April 18, 1955 commencement date set for the conference, this advance consultation should probably be completed by the end of January. Since a number of Western European countries are involved, their convenience would suggest a meeting place in that vicinity in case multilateral sessions can be arranged.

A letter is enclosed to Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice from Mr. Herrington,1 covering developments in the U.N. after Sir Gerald returned to the U.K. The question of arrangements for informal discussions is also discussed.

If it sees no objection, the Embassy is requested to deliver this letter to Sir Gerald, keeping the copy for its files, and to take up the contents of this instruction with the Foreign Office on an urgent basis.

  1. The reference letter, dated Dec. 21, 1954, is printed supra.