332. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Law of the Sea


  • C.S.A. Ritchie, Ambassador of Canada
  • G.C. Langille, Counselor, Canadian Embassy
  • A.W. Mathewson, First Secretary, Canadian Embassy
  • U. Alexis Johnson, Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Charles A. Kiselyak, Office of Canadian Affairs
  • Stanley Futterman, Special Assistant, L

At Ambassador Johnson’s invitation, Ambassador Ritchie called on him the afternoon of June 1 to receive the US response to the suggestion that Foreign Minister Martin had made to Under Secretary Mann in February2 that a way be found so that Canada could declare certain large bodies of water—e.g., the Gulf of the St. Lawrence—to be Canadian fishing seas. Ambassador Johnson gave Ambassador Ritchie an Aide-Mémoire, a copy of which is attached to this memorandum,3 and said that while the US, after very careful consideration, could find no support in international law for the conversion of high seas into fishing seas, it was the intention of the US to be as helpful as possible in aiding Canada to achieve a solution to the problems its fishermen face or fear they will someday face.

Ambassador Ritchie expressed great disappointment that Mr. Martin’s proposal had not received US assent and noted that not only did the proposal represent a retreat from the original Canadian intention of declaring the bodies of water in question to be internal Canadian waters but that, further, the proposal had been suggested by the US in the first place. Ambassador Ritchie said that Canada’s retreat from its initial position had resulted from Canada’s recognition of the security problem any diminution of the high seas would present to the US and expressed doubt that any international conservation scheme would meet Canada’s needs.

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Ambassador Ritchie added that it was Canada’s wish to deny the areas in question to foreign fishermen, except for those with treaty rights, and had expected from the conversation in February that the US would help them do that. Ambassador Ritchie ended his remarks by saying that the US response seemed completely to ignore Mr. Martin’s talk with Mr. Mann and that he was certain Mr. Martin would be disappointed at the US decision because he had been “counting on it”.

Ambassador Johnson said that it was most regrettable if the Canadian Government had been misled and volunteered to review the record. He added, however, that his willingness to review the record ought not to be interpreted as detracting in any way from the Aide-Mémoire.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-8 CAN-US. Confidential. Drafted by Kiselyak and approved in G on June 8. The memorandum is Part 1 of 2.
  2. Martin made the suggestion February 18 during his visit to Washington. No U.S. record of the conversation was found. Ritchie supplied a copy of the Canadian record of conversation to Johnson on June 3. (Ibid., POL 33-4 CAN-US)
  3. Not printed.