Volume #14 - 1000.|
RELATIONS AVEC LES ÉTATS-UNIS
DÉVELOPPEMENT DES RESSOURCES ET DE TRANSPORT
le 19 mai 1948|
INTER-DEPARTMENTAL MEETING TO DISCUSS A UNITED STATES DRAFT CONVENTION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF FISHERIES IN THE NORTHWEST ATLANTIC, HELD IN THE OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FISHERIES, 2.30 P.M., MAY 19, 1948|
The meeting was held to discuss the draft Convention † which was submitted with the United States Embassy's letter of March 194 and a subsequent proposal that a preliminary technical meeting should be held between representatives of Canada, Newfoundland and the United States in St. John's Newfoundland, sometime in June. There were present:
2. Dr, Bates opened the discussion by making the following points:
(a) The Department of Fisheries considers that there is no immediate need for conservation measures. In fact, the areas fished by Canadians are under-exploited rather than depleted
(b) It is possible that conservation measures may be required in the next 15-25 years, but the emphasis at present should be placed on scientific investigation,
(c) The banks off the New England Coast, which are fished almost exclusively by U.S. fishermen, are depleted - and for this reason the United States may be pressing their proposal in order to secure their position in the other areas. Halibut stocks are decreasing throughout the whole area, but the necessary conservation measures would interfere with the cod fisheries, (cod gear catches small halibut) and, as the latter are more important commercially, it would be undesirable to do anything about halibut.
3. In view of the above, it was agreed that the main purpose of the U.S. proposal is probably to ensure the U.S. position on the Canadian and Newfoundland banks by attempting to establish the principle that the North American countries, because of contiguity to the area; have a special claim to, and responsibility for, the development and conservation of the fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic. Dr. Bates stated that his Department also would like to see this principle adopted, and that they would be unwilling to join in the establishment of any Northwest Atlantic Fisheries organization in which the influence of the North American countries was outweighed by that of Europe.
4. It was recognized that the U.S. draft would constitute implementation of the policy outlined in the Presidential Declaration of September 28, 1945 - regarding the establishment of conservation zones in the high seas, and agreed that further consideration should be given to the need for making a similar Canadian declaration (agreed to by Cabinet on May 9, 1947) as a preliminary step to negotiation, some years hence, of an agreement giving regulatory powers to the Commission. In other words, if Canada followed the U.S. lead in the near future and made a similar Declaration regarding conservation zones the European countries might come to accept the special position of Canada and the U.S. in the Northwest Atlantic fisheries and be more prepared to accept, ultimately, the idea of a regulatory Commission in which our position would be predominant. For that matter a Declaration prior to negotiations for an investigational Commission might make the latter more acceptable to Europe.
5. With regard to the proposed technical meeting it was agreed that, as the need for comprehensive conservation measures has not been proven, the discussion should be confined to the broad principles involved, and that, for the present, it should be our aim to press for consideration of all possible methods of securing international cooperation for scientific research. It was suggested that the U.S. reaction to a proposal that an organization be established with investigational, but not regulatory, powers might indicate whether they are really concerned with conservation or primarily interested in establishing a predominant position in the control of the Northwest fisheries.
6. If it is decided that an organization should be set up in the near future - which would assure the North American countries the balance of power over participating European countries - the Department of Fisheries would be willing to include, in addition to investigational powers, the regulation of mesh sizes as a token power for an International Commission. In addition, although omitted in the United States draft, it was felt that provision should be made in any agreement for (a) rules of navigation to be observed by all fishing vessels in the area - and, (b) for the welfare of fishermen.
7. When necessary at a later date the contracting parties could reshape the International Commission so as to give it regulatory powers for conservation, based on the results of its investigations. Dr. Bates pointed out that, while the U.S. Government can readily be in favour of giving power to an international fisheries organization, since that only entails a loss of power by the individual States, in Canada the Department of Fisheries is loath to transfer powers which it possesses to an international organization. For this and other reasons, it is considered undesirable that any international Commission should have power to make regulations, such as outlined in the United States draft, without subsequent approval of the contracting Governments.
8. The possible effect of the forthcoming election in Newfoundland on the proposed technical meeting at St. John's and the implications of Newfoundland joining Canada were then discussed and agreement reached on the following points
(a) Dr. Bates would inform Mr. Gushue (Newfoundland) that the Canadian representatives would be pleased to meet in St. John's or Ottawa, or Washington during the third week in June. This should give us sufficient time to reconsider the time and place for a meeting if Newfoundland votes clearly for Confederation.
(b) In the event of Newfoundland becoming part of Canada it would be necessary to reconsider the basis of representation and voting power in view of the greatly increased area which would be contiguous to Canadian shores. Under the U.S. proposal, the disappearance of Newfoundland as a voting member would shift the balance of power to the European countries. In addition, it was suggested that the Gulf of St. Lawrence might, in that event, be considered territorial waters - or at least an area developed and maintained exclusively by Canadian nationals within the meaning of the U.S. Declaration of September 28, 1945. (The U.S. have not been fishing in the Gulf for some time).
(c) As the meeting would be preliminary and technical, it would not be necessary for a representative from External to attend, although the Acting High Commissioner might be asked to sit in on the discussions.
9. Following the above general discussion and conclusions, the U.S. draft was considered section by section and the following additional points covered:
(a) In general the United States paper would require a number of textual clarifications as to intent and in order to avoid ambiguity;
(b) Permanent Panel Membership on the Basis of Contiguity (Art, IV) - there is no clear indication as to whether the United States, Canada and Newfoundland are considered contiguous to all the sub-areas, or whether Denmark and France would be given a permanent seat on the appropriate Panels, because of the contiguity of Greenland to sub-area 1 and of St. Pierre and Miquelon to sub-area 2.
(c) Voting Procedure (Art, III & IV) - it was questioned whether the proposed voting procedure would adequately protect North American interests, since the test proposed is the number of votes actually cast. In theory, a measure might be approved by one man if everyone else abstained. However, if regulations were made subject to subsequent approval by the contracting Governments, this objection would have less weight.
(d) Finances (Art. III) - It was agreed that it would be unfair to those countries deriving only small benefits from the fisheries if joint administrative expenses were to be divided equally between all members, and it was felt that costs should be apportioned according to each member country's share of the catch.
(e) Advisory Committees (Art. V) - In view of the recent problem over immigration regulations in connection with "Communist" members of the Pacific Salmon Advisory Committee, it was agreed that it would be wise to insert a qualifying clause to the effect that the right of the members of the Advisory bodies to attend meetings of the Commission and panels does not imply a waiver of the immigration laws of the host country.
(f) Regulatory Powers (Arts. 11 and 12) - It was agreed that there is a conflict between the residual powers of the Conunission and the Panels. They could not both have the same possible range of powers.
(g) Violations by Non-member Countries (An. 14) - It was agreed that that clarification of the term "appropriate action" would have to be sought - since, under International law, it would be impossible actually to compel non-participating countries to comply with regulations if adopted by the member countries for areas in the high seas.
(h) Relationship to Other International Organizations - This would require clarification.