510. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, March 10, 19551


  • Proposed Fishery Conservation Agreement with Peru


  • Ambassador Berckemeyer, Embassy of Peru
  • Mr. Pizarro, Minister, Counselor of Embassy, Peruvian Embassy
  • OSA—Mr. Atwood
  • L/ARA—Miss Whiteman
  • U/FW—Mr. Taylor
  • AR—Mr. Bowdler
  • OSA—Mr. McGinnis

Ambassador Berckemeyer called at the Department at 4:15 p.m. at Mr. Atwood’s request.

Mr. Atwood referred to his previous conversation with Ambassador Berckemeyer in which he expressed our serious concern over Peru’s territorial waters claims and mentioned the latter’s subsequent telephone conversation with the Peruvian Foreign Minister.2 Mr. Atwood said that it was his understanding that the Foreign Minister had stated that Peru’s sole motive in establishing the maritime zone was for the purpose of conserving the marine riches off Peru’s coast. [Page 1028] Ambassador Berckemeyer confirmed this. Mr. Atwood then said that after careful study of the matter we wished to propose a discussion with Peru of a possible joint agreement for the conservation of fisheries off the coast of Peru. He said that our thoughts in the matter had been set forth in a brief informal statement that had been drawn up. He then handed the Ambassador copies of the attached statement.3 Mr. Atwood emphasized, after the Ambassador and Mr. Pizarro had read the statement, that any agreement that might be concluded would avoid any acceptance of sovereignty over a 200-mile maritime zone nor would it refer to the three-mile limit. Mr. Atwood said that he earnestly hoped that the proposal might be acceptable to Peru as a basis for discussions. He concluded by saying that the officers present, experts in their field, would be glad to answer any specific questions that the Ambassador might have.

The Ambassador thanked Mr. Atwood for this information and said that it would be promptly transmitted to the Peruvian Government. He said that he was certain that Peru’s establishment of a maritime zone and its recent actions with respect to fishing off her coast were motivated solely by a desire to preserve its fishery resources and obtain maximum benefit from them. He then observed that Peru was associated with Ecuador and Chile in agreements regarding the preservation of their respective fishery resources and indicated that this fact would have to be taken into consideration with regard to the negotiation of any conservation agreement. Mr. Atwood observed that since tuna and perhaps other species moved from one area to another, it might be desirable to work out conservation arrangements which would include other interested countries.

Mr. Atwood stated that he also wished to inform the Ambassador that the U.S. Government had under consideration the desirability of reaching agreement with Peru for the submission to the International Court of Justice of a case involving the territorial waters issue for the purpose of obtaining a judicial decision in the matter. The Ambassador made no comment upon this.

Ambassador Berckemeyer related that yesterday he had received information from Peru by telephone to the effect that Peru had issued licenses to four U.S. flag fishing vessels and that this indicated that the immediate difficulties between U.S. tuna clippers and Peruvian authorities were apparently being worked out. He said that he believed that new licensing regulations had been worked out between representatives of private U.S. fishing interests and Peruvian [Page 1029] officials. In response to a question the Ambassador said that the licenses he had mentioned were not to be confused with licenses regularly taken out by U.S. fishing vessels which ordinarily fish under contract with Peruvian companies established on the mainland. He stated, somewhat uncertainly, that regulations have long been in effect governing foreign fishing in waters off Peru’s coast.4

Before the Ambassador’s departure Mr. Atwood assured him of our sincere desire to work out an agreement along the lines proposed which would not alter the juridical position of either country. The Ambassador said that he thought that an amicable solution to our mutual problems could be reached.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.236/3–1055. Confidential. Drafted by McGinnis.
  2. See footnote 7, supra.
  3. Not printed. The statement proposed discussions looking toward a joint agreement containing provisions for regulating tuna fishing, providing for joint enforcement and for the settlement of differences through appropriate international procedure.
  4. Despatch 430 from Lima, March 12, transmitted the text of Peruvian Ministerial Resolution 478, March 9, giving permission to 4 U.S. fishing vessels to fish in Peru’s 200-mile zone. The preamble of the resolution stated that while final regulations were being drawn up, “the authorities can proceed by granting special authorizations to those who plainly recognize the sovereignty of the country over its maritime zone and desire to carry on legitimate operations in observance of the Peruvian laws and regulations”. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.236/3–1255) Airgram 139 to Lima, March 21, instructed the Embassy to present a note to the Peruvian Government, reiterating the nonrecognition of the U.S. Government of the Peruvian claim to territorial waters in excess of 3 miles. (Ibid.)