583. Telegram 2044 From the Embassy in Peru to the Department of State1 2

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From Irwin No. 14


  • From Irwin No. 13

Summary: Team met with GOP fisheries spokesmen in presence of PM and FonMin from 9 am until 2:20 pm March 21. Speaking for Peruvians were Dr. Fernandez Stoll, Dr. J. Sanchez Luis Banchero, and Adm (ret) Luis Llosa. Llosa’s presentation reiterated traditional GOP juridical position. He sought to reassure USG re qte innocent passage unqte and to demonstrate that US is creating problem after tuna industry generally had at first complied with regulations. Banchero suggested establishment locally based US tuna industry for export to US with specially lowered tariffs for Peru. Sanchez and Hernandez gave background information on historical and technical aspects of 200 mile zone. End summary

2. Retired Admiral Llosa, former FonMin, former Chairman of Joint Command, and present Vice President Fisheries Association spoke last and gave two hour exposition of Peruvian position regarding origins of regulations designed to protect Peruvian 200 mile claim. He said Santiago Agreement misunderstood widely in US. He said Agreement inter alia:

A. guarantees liberty of peaceful navigation:

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C. does not exclude commercial fishing by foreign flag vessels. He said Article 5 of 1952 Santiago Agreement recognizes limitation of sovereignty insofar as innocent passage is concerned. Insofar as military implications are concerned Peruvian position does not in any way effect security of continent nor deviate from Peru’s obligation under Rio Treaty. Peruvian cooperation in international scientific endeavors is an established fact.

3. Llosa explained in detail system of permits and licenses for non-Peruvian ships wishing to fish in Peru’s claimed waters. He said South Pacific system is juridical system which is complete in every respect. Peru is obliged to patrol and protect 200 mile zone from illegal incursions by Article 1 and 2 of second South Pacific conference held in Lima in 1954. These articles oblige each country to enforce 200 mile limit through appropriate means.

4. Nevertheless the system contemplates foreign flag fishing. A regime of permits and licenses is contemplated in agreement of the South Pacific Commission which provides for licenses for foreigners subject to favorable report by technical agency of appropriate country. Peru promulgated regulations to implement system in 1956. Regulations were carefully drafted and, according to Llosa, were submitted in advance to Tuna Boat Association for their comment and suggestions. Llosa quoted from report of Committee on Regulations, of which he was a member, which at time reported that USG would reserve juridical position. However, Llosa said, based on reply from Tuna Boat Association President, Commission concluded Tuna Boat Association would not oppose proposed regulations. Regulations incorporated many advantageous facilities to participating fishing boats including live bait, port calls for supplies, services, rest and recreation, etc., and right to hire Peruvian nationals as crew. Regulations were issued January 5, 1956 and that year 42 boats received licenses. Llosa said licenses dropped to 11 in 1962, a bad year for fishing. In 1963 the number rose to 64; dropped to 53, 49, 40, and 31 [Page 3] over 1964–67 respectively, and fell off sharply in 1968–69 when only 14 vessels obtained licenses. He attributed change in attitude of US fishermen in part to purse-seine techniques which relieved dependence on bait but placed primary emphasis on encouragement given to fishermen by succession of US laws beginning with original Fishermen’s Protective Act, and proliferating in recent years. Llosa made point of the fact that funds collected from license fees and fines, contrary to popular opinion are specifically earmarked for maritime research.

5. Llosa said Peruvian Navy had proved beyond all doubt that Peruvian patrol boat could not have damaged San Juan last month since type of armaments aboard patrol craft did not correspond to description of damage as given by American Consul. On other hand, that damage existed must be accepted since it was so announced by US Consul and USG. Llosa said great question mark is who shot up San Juan? Citing reappearance of San Juan at this critical juncture, he said not difficult to believe some elements in US fishing industry wish to create problems, and desire US-Peruvian confrontation. In summing up, Llosa added final point that South Pacific system does not allow any CEP country to take action with regard to territorial waters without consulting the two others. (reftel)

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6. Irwin said it was a privilege to hear such a clear and statesmanlike exposition of Peru’s position: that Llosa’s presentation went to the heart of the matter. While the Santiago Declaration raised various specific issues such as the difference between innocent and inoffensive passage (Declaration words) and the right to sail freely on the seas, one of the fundamental problems was the unilateral extension by one country or a small group of countries of sovereignty over an area of the sea that theretofore had been free and available to all the world. With respect to the various seizure incidents Irwin commented he realized that there were different versions, and he personally not in position to make a judgement. Irwin referred to comment by Llosa that declaration did not isolate three countries from international confederation and said that was the purpose of his mission, to seek their cooperation to solve the difference between our countries, not to deny our respective concepts of sovereignty to avoid the application of our sovereignties in a way as to produce continued confrontation.

7. Third speaker was fishing magnate Luis Banchero. Banchero stated his approach to problem was economic and commercial. If treated in this vein problem could be solved easily. He said for Peru, sea is fourth economic zone (jungle, sierra, and coast being other three). Further economic growth in Peru lies almost exclusively in the sea since food is of overriding importance in world. At present fishing investment in Peru is $280 million and earns $250 million a year, or [Page 5] 30 percent of Peru’s export earnings. He said 250,000 Peruvians are dependent on fishing industry and 50,000 jobs directly or indirectly are dependent. Peru at present produces 18 percent of world production of fish and is no. 1 nation in tons of fish caught. This catch could, with proper exploitation rise by 50 percent or even double. American capital in fishing industry amounts to 21 percent and accounts for 25 percent of total production.

8. Economic and commercial factors could give answers to fishing problem. He said tuna boats presently catch between 120 and 150 thousand tons. In order to engage in economic exploitation American tuna clippers grown larger and more expensive. Since Peru has facilities it would be more economical to can tuna in Peru for export to US. This would eliminate need for large sophisticated boats which are now required to fish in South Pacific and return to California and Puerto Rico. At present tariff of 35 percent excludes processing in Peru for export to US. Thus, according to Banchero, if Peru claims 200 miles of territorial seas it faces 200 mile-high tariff wall in U.S. local processing of tuna would create jobs, foreign exchange and could be accomplished under liberal laws promoting growth of fishing industry. Furthermore, common infrastructure would allow development of possibly another 35 species of fish. Banchero said he understood tariff is directed at Japanese not Peru. He asked would it not be possible, owing to declaration of Puento del Este, to have a special relationship to Latin America through the Alliance for Progress, etc, to differentiate between Peru and Japan. With this, possibly fishing problem would be solved without resort to arguing legal positions.

9. Amb Irwin congratulated Banchero on his presentation he also understood that protection was aimed primarily at Japan and Peru was caught in middle. Nevertheless, tariff system is extremely complicated and in this case Most Favored Nations principle gives greatest difficulty since it is this concept that US has always supported.

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10. Initiating morning meeting FonMin Mercado said traditional Law of Sea ignored economic and social factors. New concepts with regard to continental shelf introduced new approaches. What Peru wished to do with its seas was use practical and technological methods to rationally conserve resources for future generations. It was logical that Peru wants preferential rights for its adjacent sea. Therefore, he said, Peru must defend itself against commercial entities which extract resources solely for profit. Nevertheless, Peruvian sea was free for all to use provided they submit to regulations on conservation. Mercado denied that Peru had ever denied free transit nor would it ever. First speaker was Fernandez Stoll. He said with regard to Law of Sea traditional concept reflect necessities of large industrial nations US, UK, Japan, USSR. Smaller nations have begun to deviate from traditional concepts. For example, he named Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Australia, Pakistan and USSR. Each coastal nation has own policy such as UK, which prohibits off shore fishing off coast of Scotland by foreign flag ships. He said unique value of sea to Peru was because of Humboldt Current which should more properly be called Peruvian Current. He described current as compensation for Peru’s arid geography, said that since 1931 it has been known that the current on the average was 200 miles wide.

11. Ambassador Irwin asked if Peru distinguishes between sovereign jurisdiction and conservation. Fernandez said questions were closely linked. Irwin asked if Peru’s position rests on any specific principle of traditional international law. Fernandez said that these new concepts could not be found in old law books.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 794, Country Files, Latin America, Peru, 21 January–31 March 1969, Vol. I, IPC Hickenlooper Amendment. Confidential; Limdis. Irwin was sent to Peru on March 14 as a special emissary from the President. Additional telegrams, Irwin No. 2, dated March 14; Irwin No. 7, dated March 19; Irwin No. 13, dated March 22; and Irwin No. 15, March 25, are ibid. The other messages from Irwin to the Department have not been found.
  2. Irwin informed the Department of State of the Peruvian system of permits and licenses for non-Peruvian ships. Irwin stated that Peru’s policy did not isolate it from the international community.