339. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Law of the Sea Dispute with Canada: Possible Multilateral Solution


  • Canada
    • A. E. Ritchie, Canadian Ambassador
  • US
    • Acting Secretary Katzenbach
    • Rufus Z. Smith, Director, EUR/CAN
    • Donald L. McKernan, S/FW
    • Carl F. Salans, L

The Canadian Ambassador called at the Department at the invitation of the Acting Secretary, who handed him an Aide-Mémoire2 setting forth, he pointed out, the views of the United States fisheries experts in the form of a proposal for a multilateral agreement which, from our point of view, would provide a rather happier solution to Canada’s fisheries problems than would the Canadian proposal for unilateral action.

The Ambassador inquired whether the document contained the full draft of a possible agreement. The Acting Secretary responded that there were some interstices but he thought the gaps were not large ones and could be easily worked out. He stressed that he was hopeful the draft would provide a viable alternative solution to the problem. He thought the Aide-Mémoire was a self-contained paper and he only wanted to underline his great hope that it can provide a way out. Mr. Katzenbach also remarked that he understood the matter had been discussed in the last day or so with Foreign Minister Martin in Paris3 but, of course, he did not yet have a full account of that conversation.

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Mr. McKernan commented that there was one other point he hoped the Ambassador would bear in mind. The fisheries experts in Canada and the United States have worked together most successfully for years and he thought he was correct in saying there is a high degree of respect on both sides.

The Ambassador said he had not had a full account of the most recent technical discussions between the experts of the two countries.4 He asked how specific they had been. Had there been a discussion of an actual draft text?

Mr. McKernan responded that they had not gotten down to a draft but they had considered cases. They had talked of specific areas and had proceeded to the point where there was reason to believe that our proposal would contribute more to the interests of Canadian fishing than would the Canadian plan since it would deal with greater areas. He noted that the Canadian experts had raised questions of time and plausibility and, in this connection, he said the US experts had made a genuine effort to approach these questions realistically in drawing up the present draft.

The Ambassador expressed some doubt on the question of time, noting that the draft spoke of 1968 whereas the Canadian intent had been to aim for July 1, 1967. He did not know how Canadian ministers would react to this aspect. The Acting Secretary replied to the effect that, after all, time passes very quickly when one is attempting to achieve major goals. He believed it was better to be conservative than to set an unrealistic date which could not be met. Mr. McKernan added that the US experts had tried hard to be conservative. He was aware, in any event, that the Canadian experts know as much about these problems as we do.

Ambassador Ritchie concluded this part of the conversation by saying he appreciated the effort which had been made and would promptly forward the text to Ottawa where, he was sure, it would receive full consideration.

(The text of the Aide-Mémoire is set forth in a cable to Ottawa, December 16, 1966.)5

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-4 CAN-US. Confidential. Drafted by Smith and approved in U on December 30. The memorandum is Part 1 of 2. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Documentation on these discussions is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 67 D 586, CF 108.
  4. No record of the meeting, held December 5 in Ottawa, was found.
  5. Telegram 103942 to Ottawa, December 16. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 33-4 CAN-US)