307. Memorandum From Arnold Nachmanoff of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, April 8, 1971.1 2

[Page 1]


April 8, 1971

FROM: Arnold Nachmanoff [AN initialed]
SUBJECT: Fisheries Dispute

You will recall that on February 10, 1971, you signed a memo to the Secretary of State indicating that the President had directed vigorous efforts be undertaken to negotiate a practical settlement of the fisheries dispute with Ecuador and Peru to avoid further adverse impact on our Hemisphere relations while protecting our juridical position on the extent of the territorial seas. (Tab A.). The directive asked the Secretary, in coordination with other agencies, to report on actions taken or planned and to submit recommendations for actions requiring Presidential decision by February 22.

Due to various circumstances, the State Department response has not been received. Secretary Rogers rejected the initial paper which reflected a consensus for a proposed “status quo” arrangement. He and Under Secretary Irwin reportedly favored submitting an options paper with separate State and Defense positions. The absence of the State and Defense legal advisors in Geneva, followed by Irwin’s absence on leave until Monday, resulted in further delay of the memorandum. During the intervening period, as you know, Peru seized and fined a tuna boat, which may oblige us to apply the FMS sanction, and Brazil has announced a decree which will implement its claim to a 200 mile territorial seas. (The Brazilian decree if implemented strictly would present very serious problems for U.S. fishing vessels, but Brazilian officials have indicated that they do not want a conflict and that the method of implementation is negotiable.) A statement by Spain regarding its territorial seas claim has further complicated the situation.

The situation is continuing to deteriorate. Moreover, Secretary Rogers is going to the OAS General Assembly in San Jose on April 14, where he will undoubtedly have to discuss this issue with high Ecuadorean, Peruvian and Brazilian representatives. However, there is no approved U.S. position. [Page 2] It is important, not just for the OAS meeting, but for our overall political interests in the Hemisphere and our strategic interests in the law of the sea, to face this problem and attempt to deal with it soon.

I suggest therefore that you call John Irwin at the earliest opportunity and suggest that the memorandum requested from the Secretary on this subject be submitted within the next couple of days. The memo should clearly present the State and Defense positions; and if it is to be useful, will have to consider the implications of developments in Brazil and Spain since the original directive was written. You may wish also to suggest that the issue may require SRG/NSC consideration, particularly if State and Defense take strongly opposed positions (as they are expected to) -- but you may wish to reserve for yourself the flexibility on whether to handle this issue in the system or staff it directly to the President.


That you call John Irwin as soon as possible to ask for the paper on the fisheries dispute.

Approve [HK wrote “No - send memo”]



Tab A -- 10 Feb memo HAK to SecState and SecDef

cc: Colonel Kennedy

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 784, Country Files, Latin America, Ecuador, Vol. I, 1969–1970. Secret; Limdis. Sent for action. A handwritten notation indicated that it was sent through Haig. Haig initialed the memorandum. A copy was sent to Colonel Kennedy. On April 12, Kissinger wrote in the “approve” option, “No—send memo.” Tab A is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–1, Global Issues, 1969–1976, Document 387.
  2. National Security Council staff member Nachmanoff informed President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger of the Department of State’s inaction in negotiating a settlement of the fisheries dispute as Kissinger had requested. Nachmanoff recommended that Kissinger call Under Secretary of State Irwin to ask for a paper on the issue.