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NEWFOUNDLAND FISHERY QUESTION.
(Continuation of correspondence in Foreign Relations, 1905, pp. 489-502.)
Chargé Carter to the Secretary of State.
London, December 21, 1905. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge your telegram of the 17th instant, a translation of which I inclose, with reference to the Newfoundland fisheries question. I also inclose a copy of Sir Edward Grey's note of the 19th, and, in the same and cognate connection, translation of my cipher cables of the 18th and 20th, respectively.
I further inclose a letter addressed to the minister of justice from Mr. Joseph O'Reilly, inspector of Newfoundland customs, dated November 30, which was handed to me as a memorandum at Sir Edward Grey's request, and was the basis of my telegram of the 20th instant, mentioned above.
I may mention that all your suggestions have been received in a spirit of the friendliest cooperation. I have, etc.,
JOHN RIDGELY CARTER.
[Inclosure 1.-Paraphrase of telegram sent from embassy December 20, 1905.] No. 28. Mr. Carter reports that Sir Edward Grey informs him that report received through O'Reilly, collector of customs in Newfoundland, stating that a United States vessel, M. B. Stetson, 98 tons, of Bucksport, Me., Captain Dorr, owned by T. M. Nicholson, both on board, arrived on 230 November at Woods Island. On 26th captain and owner engaged 9 fishermen at Woods Island and towed them in their boat to Lark Harbor, where they engaged 7 more fishermen to form a part of the crew of said vessel. On 29th two boats, one from Lark Harbor and one from Woods Island, with 16 men on board and accompanied by the N. B. Stetson, sailed outside 3-mile limit and shipped the men mentioned, and bought the two boats, with some nets and gear, which they took with them. The agreement made with the men was that they were to be found on board the vessel in gear, etc., and were to be paid $1 for each barrel of herring caught by them, and in addition would be given the nets and dory used by them when the fishery season was over. Nicholson stated to O'Reilly 27th at custom-house, Lake Harbor, that he had come to engage some men and take them outside 3-mile limit and intended purchasing their nets and boats and ship the men as part of his crew, and bring them back to the arms of the Bay of Islands to fish herring and were to be paid at the rate mentioned. He also said was advised of this course by Alexander of the United States fishery ship Grampus, who told him if he would wait until the Ingomar and Alhoa went
a Printed in Foreign Relations, 1905, p. 500.
outside to ship men he would go out in the Grampus with them. Ingomar and Alhoa did not go out and have not shipped any fisherman yet, nor did the Grampus go out with the M. B. Stetson. O'Rielly has the names of the men who went out and shipped on latter vessel, which has since reported at Lark Harbor and paid light dues under protest. Sir Edward Grey considers this a further instance of the proceedings which have given rise to well-founded complaint on the part of Newfoundland government, to which attention has been called in a memorandum handed to Mr. Reid by Lord Lansdowne on 30th ultimo, and embodied in Mr. Reid's telegram to the department (No. 15) of the 1st instant.
With reference to Mr. Root's telegram of the 17th, Sir Edward Grey states that on the 18th a strongly worded telegram was sent out from the colonial office to the Newfoundland authorities urgently instructing them to make fullest inquiries regarding cutting of nets and to take the utmost precaution to avoid any destruction of American property.
The Foreign Office to Chargé Carter.
FOREIGN OFFICE, December 19, 1905. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 18th instant, from which I learn with satisfaction that the American Government concur in the view held by His Majesty's Government that the United States fishermen are not entitled to construct platforms for freezing herrings on the west coast of Newfoundland.
With regard to paragraph 2 of your note in which you state that information has reached the Department of State to the effect that the cutting of American nets in Newfoundland waters had begun, I lost no time in bringing the matter to the knowledge of the secretary of state for the colonies, who at once telegraphed to the governor of Newfoundland on the subject. I have, etc.,
F. H. VILLIERS
Mr. O'Reilly, Inspector of Customs to the Minister of Justice.
Steamship Fiona, November 30, 1905. SIR: I beg leave to state that the United States fishing vessel 1. B. Stetson, 98 tons, of Bucksport, Me., Capt, Fred L. Dorr, owned by T. M. Nicholson, who was on board.
This vessel arrived at Woods Island on Thursday the 230 November. She remained at anchor until Sunday. The captain did not report at the customs at Woods Island. The captain and owner engaged 9 fishermen at Woods Island, and towed them in their boat to Lark Ilarbor on Sunday evening. At Lark Harbor they engaged 7 more fishermen to form a part of the crew of the said vessel.
On Wednesday the two boats, one from Lark Harbor and one from Woods Island, with 16 men on board and accompanied by the 11. B. Stetson, sailed outside the 3-mile limit and shipped those men, and, as they say, bought the two boats with some nets and gear that they took with them.
The agreement made with those men at Lark Harbor by the captain and owner was that the men were to be found on board the vessel in gear, etc., and were to be paid $1 per barrel for each barrel of herring caught by them. They were also promised by the captain and owner that they would, in addition to the $1 per barrel, be given the nets and dory used by them when the fishery season was over,
T. M. Nicholson stated to me on Monday the 27th at the customs-house, Lark Harbor, that he was here to engage some men and take them outside the 3-mile limit, and that he was going to purchase their nets and boats, and ship the men as part of the vessel's crew, and then bring them back again to the arnis of Bay of Islands to fish herring for the vessel, and were to be paid at the rate of $1 per barrel.
He also told me that he was advised to this course by Mr. Alexander, of the United States fishery ship Grampus, and further that Mr. Alexander told him that if he waited around until the Ingomar and Alhoa were going outside to ship men, he would go out in the Grampus with them.
The Ingomar and Alhoa did not go out, and have not shipped any fishermen yet.
The Grampus did not go out with the W. B. Stetson. We have the names of the men who went out and shipped on this vessel.
The Stetson has since reported at the customs, Lark Harbor, and paid light dues under protest. I have, etc.,
JOSEPH O'REILLY, Inspector.
The Secretary of State to Chargé Carter.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, January 3, 1906. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 107 of the 16th instant. You therewith inclose a copy of the British memorandum on which was based your telegram of that date with regard to the information received by His Majesty's Government, that fishermen of the United States were constructing platforms for freezing herring on the west coast of Newfoundland.
By an omission of part of the context of Article I of the treaty of 1818, the memorandum makes it appear that by that treaty the United States renounced the liberty to take, dry, or cure fish on any of the coasts, etc., of Newfoundland other than the southern coast between Cape Ray and the Rameau Islands; whereas, under the treaty, our fishermen have the right to take fish on the western and northern coasts of Newfoundland within certain described limits, as well as in certain other localities.
While I have no thought that there was any intention on the part of the framer of the memorandum to give it any such interpretation or that the meaning to be conveyed was other than that our fishermen by the treaty were excluded from drying and curing fish, so far as Newfoundland is concerned, elsewhere than on the southern coast, I deem it advisable that you should call Sir Edward Grey's attention to the misleading language of the memorandum.
That I understood by your telegram of December 16 that reference was had therein to the drying and curing of fish and not to the taking of fish, is shown by my wired reply of the same day's date that our fishermen are not entitled to construct platforms for freezing herring on the west coast of Newfoundland.” I am, etc.,
a Printed in Foreign Relations, 1905, p. 501.
The Secretary of State to Chargé Carter.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, January 4, 1906. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 111 of the 20th ultimo, confirming your telegram of the same date, which transmits information reported to Sir Edward Grey through the inspector of customs, Mr. Joseph O'Reilly, of the enlistment of Newfoundland fishermen by American vessels on the advice of Mr. Alexander, of the Grampus, and also inclosing a copy of Mr. O'Reilly's letter, upon which your telegram was based.
Your telegram was communicated in full to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, who, in reply, stated that Mr. Alexander would be called upon for a statement in regard to the matter upon his return to Washington, where he is expected to arrive during the present week.
Meanwhile, under date of the 29th ultimo, Secretary Metcalf has transmitted to me a letter dated December 21, 1905, from Mr. Alexander, which, while not in direct reply to the allegations contained in your telegram of December 20, denies that at any time since this season's fishing began have Newfoundland fishermen been shipped by American vessels in territorial waters, or that men have been in any way assisted by American masters to cross the 3-mile limit for enlistment.
I inclose copy of this letter. Its contents may be made known to Sir Edward Grey. I am, etc.,
The Secretary of Commerce and Labor to the Secretary of State.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND LABOR,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, December 29, 1905. Sir: There is transmitted herewith copy of a letter just received from fisheries agent A. B. Alexander, dated Bay of Islands, Newfoundland, December 21, 1905.
V. H. METCALF.
Mr. Alerander to the Commissioner of Fisheries.
BAY OF ISLANDS, NEWFOUNDLAND,
December 21, 1905. Sir: Your letter of the Sth instant with inclosed copy of telegram from the American ambassador at London to the Secretary of State transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, together with his reply addressed to the Secretary of State, was only received yesterday, it having been sent by mistake to St. Johns, causing a delay of several days.
In reply to the dispatch received by the Secretary of State I would repeat what has been stated in my letter of November 20 to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor that at no time since the herring fishery began this season at Bay of Islands have the laws of Newfoundland been evaded by shipping men on American vessels in the manner to which special attention is called. The schooners Independence II and Oregon enlisted Newfoundland men in the same manner that men were shipped on the schooners Gossip, Carrie W. Babson, and other American vessels engaged in the herring fishery this season.
In the dispatch considerable stress is laid upon alleged facts regarding taking men acress the 3-mile limit for enlistment and bringing them back. In no instance has such a method been employed. The men, each time, have rowed and sailed in their own boats outside territorial waters, not going on board the vessel on which they were shipped until they were beyond the 3-mile limit, and were previously engaged by agents for owners and not by the masters of said vessels, neither was assistance rendered to either vessel in the enlistment of men other than being a witness that the transaction was legally performed. Not until the receipt of your letter was I aware that any question had been raised regarding the method of procedure. It will be remembered that at the time men were shipped on the schooner Gossip a report reached St. Johns, Newfoundland, and shortly after was sent to Washington and Gloucester that unlawful methods had been employed in enlisting the men. Whoever circulated the report had no grounds for making such charge. It may be that the second report, which is equally false, emanated from the same source.
A letter, dated December 16, from the Secretary of Commerce and Labor with inclosed copy of letter from the Secretary of State addressed to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor with reference to freezing herring on shore, fishing with various kinds of apparatus, etc., was received yesterday. The information bearing upon the points in question has been imparted to masters and owners of vessels. The American captains now fully understand the interpretation the Government places upon the questions involved, both as regards to curing on shore, methods of capture, etc., and conforming to days and seasons.
The vessels are now fishing in Middle and Goose arms, where, probably, they will remain until loaded. The captains will now have little or no communication with Birchy Cove, and only a limited amount of information concerning their movements and catches made can be obtained.
The herring fishery will end in about three weeks. Should vessels remain later, they are likely to be frozen in the arms. If a suitable steam vessel were on the ground near the end of the fishing season, she no doubt would be of considerable service. In past years vessels have frequently remained on the ground a day or two longer than they should in order to obtain full cargoes, and by so doing were caught in the ice, where they had to remain until the following spring. Had assistance been near, the cargoes would have been sa ved.
Fifteen American vessels have sailed with full cargoes and a number of others are nearly loaded. Ten American vessels this season have shipped 136 men outside 3-mile limit. Very respectfully,
A. B. ALEXANDER.
The Acting Secretary of State to Chargé Carter: No. 126.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, January 15, 1906. Sir: Supplementing the department's No. 120, of the 4th instant, in which you were instructed that Mr. A. B. Alexander, fisheries agent of the Department of Commerce and Labor, would be called upon for an explanation concerning information reported to Sir Edward Grey, through Mr. Joseph O'Reilly, Newfoundland inspector of customs, alleging the illegal shipment of Newfoundland fishermen by American vessels, particularly the M. B. Stetson, on the advice of Mr. Alexander, I now inclose copy of a letter from the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, transmitting a copy of Mr. Alexander's statement.
It will be noted that Mr. Alexander asserts that any inference from the reports in question that men were illegally shipped is unwarranted, and based on wholly untrustworthy information.
The contents of the inclosure may be made known to Sir Edward Grey. I am, etc.,