384. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

2615. From Dean.2

[Page 737]
At plenary session this afternoon ten European states were unanimous they would not accept Canadian formula and they believe they can prevent its receiving two-thirds majority at Geneva.
British chairman made clear this was exploratory session only and no Government was committed to expressions of view.
British expressed view their modified UK/US formula limiting tonnage of vessels future fishing for same class of fish taken in base period and averaging of years for base period would not command more than approximately 45 votes with approximately 29 votes against, and that this modified formula would have to be made substantially more attractive in order to command two-thirds majority.
All Europeans dislike in principle idea of terminating fishing rights by phasing out but all recognize inherent importance six mile maximum territorial sea and danger both to security and fishing rights if in event conference failure there is substantial unilateral movement to 12 miles, or if it proves impossible prevent conference agreement on some more unfavorable proposal.
Professor Gros of France expressed strong disapproval for termination of fishing rights exercised for five centuries but finally said as bad solution to dangerous problem would undertake to discuss with his government phasing out period of 25 years.
Belgium, Portugal and Italy also dislike any ending fishing rights but seem inclined concur with Professor Gros.
Western Germany, Holland and Turkey believe modified US/UK formula with appropriate phasing out period can command two-thirds majority vote. But Germany believes modified UK formula should be put to conference first and then phase out formula presented only to prevent conference failing. Turkish Delegate on other hand believes essential to move to phase out formula immediately in order to discuss and line up necessary vote. Greece dislikes phase out intensely but believe would probably go majority.
All dislike intensely fact Canadian formula terminates fishing rights as matter of international law and that their fishing rights would only continue for reasonable period while bilateral agreements were being negotiated, but rights would definitely terminate if bilateral agreement not concluded.
All insisted wording of formula at Geneva must recognize fishing rights as matter of international law even though they are to be limited and are to be phased out.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 399.731/11–1759. Confidential. Repeated to Ottawa.
  2. Dean headed the U.S. Delegation to the Law of the Sea meeting at London, November 16–20. A copy of his instructions is ibid., 399.731/11–1359. Summary records of the sessions on November 16, 17, and 18 are ibid., 399.731/11–1859 through 399.731/11–2059. The texts of “Alternate Proposal A”, which proposed 6-plus-6 with limited historical rights in perpetuity, and “Alternate Proposal B”, which proposed 6-plus-6 with limited historical rights terminated after a finite period, were transmitted in airgram G–407 from London, November 20. (Ibid., 399.731/11–2059) The conference agreed to support Alternative A and use Alternative B as a fall-back position.