336. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Canada1

46813. Subject: Law of the Sea.


There follows text of letter from Secretary to Martin intended to be handed Canadian Ambassador by Deputy Under Secy Johnson at 5:30 pm today:

“Dear Mr. Secretary: I regret my absence from Washington delayed for a time a reply to your letter of August 10 on the Law of the Sea.2 In the meantime, I understand, the matter was raised by Prime Minister Pearson with President Johnson during their August 21 Campobello meeting.3

I agree completely with you that this is a matter of great importance. We have again thoroughly reviewed your proposal in the light of international law, the general interests of the Free World as we see them, and our own fishing interests. We have concluded that we cannot accept, even tacitly, the establishment of the waters in question as Canadian fishing seas.

Therefore, I want to state again our willingness to give vigorous support to a Canadian effort to establish a fisheries conservation regime in the waters of concern to you.

During his meeting with the President, the Prime Minister indicated he wanted to look into our suggestion of a friendly suit between the two countries, prior to any action by your Government, before the International Court of Justice. Should a less public proceeding seem [Page 709] desirable to Canada, we would also be willing to engage in a suitable arbitration.

I would very much regret it if your Government were unable to see its way clear to pursuing any of the alternatives we have suggested and were to proceed with the action your letter contemplates. I do not know precisely how we would be obliged to respond to the assertion of your claim that certain portions of the high seas have become internal Canadian waters. It seems clear, however, that we would be forced to protest it directly and publicly, to avail ourselves of the legal remedies open to us, and to instruct our vessels and aircraft to disregard it. If such a situation were to develop, we should, of course, be faced with detailed inquiries from the Congress and from our press to which we would be obliged to respond. Among the aspects of the matter which it seems to me inevitably would thus become a matter of public record would be that we had made clear our strong opposition prior to the introduction of your legislation in Parliament and that we had suggested means by which in our judgment the problem could be resolved equitably.

This subject, like others that have troubled us in the past, will eventually be, no matter what the outcome, a part of history. In the meantime, I trust that the officials of both countries will do all possible to ensure that it does not adversely affect any of the other myriad subjects that concern our two countries.

Sincerely yours, Dean Rusk

FYI. Letter approved by President and also by small number selected senators on confidential basis. End FYI.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-4 CAN-US. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Kiselyak and approved by Smith.
  2. See footnote 6, Document 334.
  3. See Document 335.