Volume #23 - 310.|
REGULATION OF THE PACIFIC OFF-SHORE SALMON FISHERY
Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Ambassador in United States
October 3rd, 1956|
By bag Tokyo, Seattle from Ottawa.
HIGH SEAS SALMON FISHING
1. Following for your info only is the text of a letter of September 28 to the Minister from the Minister of Fisheries, together with an enclosed memo of the Deputy Minister of Fisheries. We shall be sending you instructions on this matter very shortly. Text begins:
My Dear Colleague,
A recent development in the fishing of salmon on the Pacific Coast is giving rise to serious concern and if the necessary restrictive action is too long delayed there can be no doubt that grave consequences will result.
The attached memo, prepared by my Deputy Minister, sets out in detail the problem and its serious nature. In my opinion it is evident that if we wait for action by the USA authorities, without bringing the matter formally to their attention, we will not get the desired action soon enough to prevent serious damage to the salmon fisheries of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. As noted in the attached memo, the USA federal authorities recognize the seriousness of high-seas salmon fishing with nets and did take action to prohibit such fishing in waters off Alaska. What is required is a similar prohibition for the waters off Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
I should be grateful if you would consider taking the matter up with the Government of the USA as quickly as possible.
Yours sincerely, James Sinclair.
Memo for Minister
A serious problem has arisen during the past two or three months in connection with salmon fishing on the Pacific Coast. The problem is one of off-shore net fishing, i.e., fishing beyond territorial limits by USA fishermen and to some extent by Canadian fishermen.
It is the view of Canada and the USA that fishing for salmon on the high seas is detrimental to conservation of the resources because it is impossible to determine the various stocks of salmon in high seas areas. Thus, conservation measures which are applied for the regulation of the various runs and stocks of salmon as they approach their respective spawning rivers are of no value if fishing is conducted say thirty, forty or fifty miles at sea. In order to protect the runs of salmon bound for spawning areas on the North American side of the Pacific, Japan agreed under the North Pacific Fisheries Convention to abstain from fishing salmon (as well as halibut and herring) in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean. The fishermen of the USA and Canada have severely criticized the continued allowance of Japan to fish salmon in the high seas, even though under the North Pacific Fisheries Convention the Japanese operations are conducted on the western side of the Pacific. Now, however, there is a definite move on foot, particularly by USA fishermen, to fish salmon well outside territorial waters thus intercepting the runs before they separate to move in towards their home spawning rivers. Because of the recent activities of a fairly substantial group of USA fishermen to conduct off-shore salmon fishing, using exceptionally long gillnets, Canadian fishermen are planning to follow suit.
The current danger of American and Canadian fishermen starting to fish salmon on the high seas was recognized over a year ago. Discussions took place on the matter between the Canadian and USA sections of the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission at the time of the meetings of the commission in November, 1955, at Tokyo. The USA section was in complete agreement with the Canadian section that action should be taken to ensure that the nationals of both countries should not be permitted to fish salmon with nets in the high seas. The question was again discussed between officials of the Department, the USA Fish and Wildlife Service and the USA State Department in Washington, DC on January 4, 1956. During the past summer the USA Government took regulatory action to prohibit USA nationals fishing for salmon with nets in the high seas off Alaska. I had a subsequent discussion on the problem as it pertains to the high seas off British Columbia, Washington and Oregon with officials of the USA fish and wildlife service, the State Department and the Canadian and American sections of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission in Seattle, Washington, on September 7, 1956.
The situation is that if high seas fishing for salmon by nationals of the USA and Canada is permitted to continue and develop it will have the effect of nullifying any arguments put forward to Japan (or for that matter other countries) that the taking of salmon in the high seas is destructive and contrary to good conservation practice and sound management of the resource. Added to this is the fact that if high seas fishing is permitted, our efforts to maintain and rehabilitate the salmon runs in British Columbia will be of no avail. This too would be the case in the efforts of the USA to maintain and develop the salmon runs to the streams and rivers of the states of Washington and Oregon. Moreover, the success of the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission in rehabilitating the Fraser River sockeye salmon will be defeated.
The International Pacific Salmon (Sockeye) Fisheries Commission is already on record with both governments asking that action be taken to prevent the nationals of the USA and Canada from fishing salmon in the high seas. In the discussions noted above with officials of the USA we have pressed for action to be taken. Canada's position is that under current legislation we can adopt regulations to prevent Canadian fishermen from operating with nets on the high seas for salmon. We have hesitated to take such regulatory measures, however, until we are assured that similar steps will be taken by the USA. To date this has not been forthcoming because there is, apparently, a lack of federal USA legislative authority, except in Alaska where the USA Federal Government has direct jurisdiction over fisheries. At the meeting in Seattle on September 7 we were informed that it was impossible for action to be taken by the USA this fall but we were told by Mr. W.C. Herrington of the USA State Department that reasonable assurance could be given that action would be taken in time for the 1957 fishing season.
On September 13 a meeting was held in Vancouver by the Minister and officials of the Department with a group of representatives of the Canadian industry. The cannery operators and the fishermen's organization have expressed themselves as being strongly opposed to high seas fishing for salmon with nets. The British Columbia industry is acutely aware of the dangers from a conservation standpoint to the development of high seas salmon fishing. As a result of the discussion in Vancouver, the Department's Chief Supervisor of Fisheries for British Columbia was authorized to issue a notice to the Canadian industry. A copy of the notice,? dated September 13, is attached.
The officials of the Department concur that high seas salmon fishing of the kind now being developed, if not prohibited by governmental action by both the USA and Canada, can reach most serious proportions to the ultimate end of negating the conservation, expansion and rehabilitation of the salmon runs of the Pacific Coast. Equally serious is the effect such high seas fishing by USA and Canadian nationals will have in maintaining with Japan the abstention provisions of the North Pacific Fisheries Convention.
It is considered that the situation warrants a formal approach by the Department of External Affairs to the USA State Department, thus bringing the matter officially to the attention of the USA authorities and asking for assurance that legislative action will be taken prior to the commencement of the 1957 salmon fishing season to prohibit nationals of the USA from engaging in high seas salmon net fishing. It can be stated that Canada now has the necessary legislative authority and is prepared to implement it in so far as Canadian nationals are concerned. The officials of the Department are ready to confer with the appropriate USA officials to work out a standard description of the kind and type of salmon fishing gear which may continue to be employed in the high seas (trolling gear) and to describe uniformly the waters which will be considered to be high seas for the purposes of salmon net fishing.
G.R. Clark, Deputy Minister. Text ends.