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century. The two nations were the only powers that owned a foot of land on the continents that bordered, or on the islands included within, the Behring waters where the seals resort to breed. Into this peaceful and secluded field of labor, whose benefits were so equitably shared by the native Alents of the Pribilof Islands, by the United States, and by England, certain Canadian vessels in 1886 asserted their right to enter, and by their ruthless course to destroy the fisheries and withi them to destroy also the resulting industries which are so valuable. The Government of the United States at once proceeded to check this movement, which, unchecked, was sure to do great and irreparable harm.
It was cause of unfeigned surprise to the United States that Her Majesty's Government should immediately interfere to defend and encourage (surely to encourage by defending) the course of the Canadians in disturbing an industry which had been carefully developed for more than ninety years under the flags of Russia and the United States-developed in such a manner as not to interfere with the public rights or the private industries of any other people or any other person.
Whence did the ships of Canada derive the right to do in 1886 that which they had refraineil from doing for more than ninety years! Upon what grounds did her Majesty's Government defend in the year 1886 a course of conduct in the Behring Sea which she had carefully avoided ever since the discovery of that sea ? By what reasoning did Her Majesty's Government conclude that an act may be committed with impunity against the rights of the United States which had never been attempted against the same rights when held by the Russian Empire?
So great has been the injury to the fisheries from the irregular and destructive slaughter of seals in the open waters of the Behring Sea by Canadian vessels, that whereas the Government had allowed 100,000 to be taken annually for a series of years, it is now compelled to reduce the number to 60,000. If four years of this violation of natural law and neighbor's rights has reduced the annual slaughter of seal by 40 per cent, it is easy to see how short a period will be required to work the total destruction of the fisheries.
The ground upon which Her Majesty's Government justifies, or at least defends the course of the Canadian vessels, rests upon the fact that they are committing their acts of destruction on the high seas, viz, more than 3 marine miles from the shore line. It is doubtful whether Her Majesty's Government would abide by this rule if the attempt were made to interfere with the pearl fisheries of Ceylon, which extend more than 20 miles from the shore line and have been enjoyed by England without molestation ever since their acquisition. So well recognized is the British ownership of those fisheries, regardless of the limit of the three-mile line, that Her Majesty's Government feels authorized to sell the pearl-fishing right from year to year to the highest bidder. Nor is it credible that modes of fishing on the Grand Banks, altogether practicable but highly destructive, would be justified or even permitted by Great Britain on the plea that the vicious acts were committed more than 3 miles from shore.
There are, according to scientific authority,“great colonies of fish” on the “Newfoundland banks." These colonies resemble the seats of great populations on land. They remain stationary, having a limited range of water in which to live and die. In these great "colonies” it is, according to expert judgment, comparatively easy to explode dynamite or giant powder in such manner as to kill vast quantities of fish, and at the same time destroy countless pumbers of eggs. Stringent laws have been necessary to prevent the taking of fish by the use of dynamite in many of the rivers and lakes of the United States. The same mode of fishing could readily be adopted with effect on the more shallow parts of the banks, but the destruction of fish in proportion to the catch, says a high authority, might be as great as ten thousand to one. Would Her Majesty's Government think that so wicked an act could not be prevented and its perpetrators punished simply because it had been cominitted outside of the 3-mile line?
Why are not the two cases parallel? The Canadian vessels are engaged in the taking of fur seal in a manner that destroys the power of reproduction and insures the extermination of the species. In exterminating the species an article useful to mankind is totally destroyed in order that temporary and immoral gain may be acquired by a few persons. By the employment of dynamite on the banks it is not probable that the total destruction of fish could be accomplished, but a serious diminution of a valuable food for man might assuredly result. Does Her Majesty's Government seriously maintain that the law of nations is powerless to prevent such violation of the common rights of man? Are the supporters of justice in all nations to be declared incompetent to prevent wrongs so odious and so destructive!
In the judgment of this Government the law of the sea is not lawlessness. Nor can the law of the sea and the liberty which it confers and which it protects be perverted to justify acts which are immoral in themselves, which inevitably tend to results against the interests and against the welfare of mankind. One step beyond that which Her Majesty's Government has taken in this contention, and piracy finds its justification. The President does not conceive it possible that Her Majesty's Government could in fact be less indifferent to these evil results than is the Government of the United States. But he hopes that Her Majesty's Government will, after this frank expression of views, more readily comprehend the position of the Government of the United States touching this serious question. This Government has been ready to concede much in order to adjust all differences of view, and has, in the judgment of the President, already proposed a solution not only equitable but generous. Thus far Her Majesty's Government has declined to accept the proposal of the United States. The President now awaits with deep interest, not unmixed with solicitude, any proposition for reasonable adjustment which Her Majesty's Gov. ernment may submit. The forcible resistance to which this Government is constrained in the Behring Sea is, in the President's judgment, demanded not only by the necessity of defending the traditional and long-established rights of the United States, but also the rights of good government and of good morals the world over.
In this contention the Government of the United States has no occasion and no desire to withdraw or modify the positions which it has at any time maintained against the claims of the Imperial Government of Russia. The United States will not withhold from any nation the privileges which it demanded for itself when Alaska was part of the Russian Empire. Nor is the Government of the United States disposed to exercise in those possessions any less power or authority than it was willing to concede to the Imperial Government of Russia when its sovereignty extended over them. The President is persuaded that all friendly nations will concede to the United States the same rights and privileges on the lands and in the waters of Alaska which the same friendly nations always conceded to the Empire of Russia. I have, etc.,
JAMES G. BLAINE.
CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO PROPOSED INTERNATIONAL
MEASURES FOR THE PROTECTION OF FUR-SEALS—(Continued.)
Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.
WASHINGTON, February 10, 1890. SIR: Her Majesty's Government have had for sometime under their consideration the suggestion made in the course of our interviews on the question of the seal fisheries in Behring's Sea, that it might expedite a settlement of the controversy if the tripartite negotiation respecting the establishment of a close time for those fisheries which was commenced in London in 1888, but was suspended owing to various causes, should be resumed in Washington.
I now have the honor to inform you that Her Majesty's Government are willing to adopt this suggestion, and if agreeable to your Governwent will take steps concurrently with them to invite the participation of Russia in the renewed negotiations. I have, etc.,
Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, March 1, 1890. MY DEAR SIR JULIAN: I have extracted from official documents and appended hereto a large mass of evidence, given uder oath by professional experts and officers of the United States, touching the subject upon which you desired further proof, namely, that the killing of seals in the open sea tends certainly and rapidly to the extermination of the species. If further evidence is desired, it can be readily furnished. I have, etc.,
JAMES G. BLAINE.
(For inclosures see House Ex. Doc. No. 450, Fifty-first Congress, first session, pp. 15-25.)
Sir. Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.
WASHINGTON, April —, 1890. (Received April 30.) DEAR MR. BLAINE: At the last sitting of the Conference on the Behring Sea Fisheries question, you expressed doubts, after reading the memorandum of the Canadian Minister of Marine and Fisheries, which by your courtesy has since been printed, whether any arrangement could be arrived at that would be satisfactory to Canada.
You observed that the proposals of the United States had now been two years before Fler Vajesty's Government, that there was nothing further to urge in support of it; and you invited me to make a counter proposal on their behalt. To that task I have most earnestly applied myself, and while fully sensible of its great difliculty, owing to the contlict of opinion and of testimony which has manifested itself in the course of our discussions, I do not despair of arriving at a solution which will be satisfactory to all the Governments concerned. It has been admitted, from the commencement, that the sole object of the negotiation is the preservation of the fur-seal species for the benefit of mankind, and that no considerations of advantage to any particular nation, or of benefit to any private interest, should enter into the question.
Such being the basis of negotiation, it would be strange indeed if we should fail to devise the means of solving the difficulties which bave unfortunately arisen. I will proceed to explain by what method this result can, in my judgment, be attained. The great divergence of views which exists as to whether any restrictions on pelagic sealing are necessary for the preservation of the fur-seal species, and if so, as to the character and extent of such restrictions, renders it impossible in my opinion to arrive at any solution which would satisfy public opinion either in Canada or Great Britain, or in any country which may be invited to accede to the proposed arrangement, without a full inquiry by a mixed commission of experts, the result of whose labors and investigations, in the region of the seal fishery, would probably dispose of all the points in dispute.
As regards the immediate necessities of the case I am prepared to recommend to my Government for their approval and acceptance certain measures of precaution which might be adopted provisionally and without prejudice to the ultimate decision on the points to be investigated by the commission. Those measures, which I will explain later on, would effectually remove all reasonable apprehension of any depletion of the fur-seal species, at all events, pending the report of the commission.
It is important, in this relation, to note that while it has been contended on the part of the United States Government that the depletion of the fur-seal species has already commenced, and that even the extermination of the species is threatened within a measurable space of time, the latest reports of the United States agent, Mr. Tingle, are such as to dissipate all such alarms.
Mr. Tingle, in 1887, reported that the vast number of seals was on the increase, and that the condition of all the rookeries could not be better.
In his later report, dated July 31, 1888, he wrote as follows: I am happy to be able to report that, although late landing, the breeding rookeries are filled out to the lines of measurement heretofore made, and some of them much beyond those lines, showing conclusively that seal life is not being depleted, but is fully up to the estimate given in my report of 1887.
Mr. Elliot, who is frequently appealed to as a great authority on the subject, affirms that, such is the natural increase of the fur-seal species that these animals, were they not preyed upon by killer whales (Orca gladiator), sharks, and other submarine foes, would multiply to such an extent that “Behring Sea itself could not contain them.”
The Honorable Mr. Tupper has shown in his memorandum that the destruction of seals caused by pelagic sealing is insignificant in coinparison with that caused by their natural enemies, and gives figures exhibiting the marvelous increase of seals in spite of the depredations complained of.
Again the destructive nature of the modes of killing seals by spears and firearms has apparently been greatly exaggerated as may be seen from the affidavits of practical seal hunters which I annex to this letter, together with a confirmatory extract from a paper upon the “FurSeal Fisheries of the Pacific Coast and Alaska,” prepared and published in San Francisco and designed for the inforination of Eastern United States Senators and Congressmen.
The Canadian Government estimate the percentage of seals só wounded or killed and not recovered at 6 per cent.
In view of the facts above stated, it is improbable that pending the result of the inquiry, which I have suggested, any appreciable diminu. tion of the fur-seal species should take place, even if the existing conditions of pelagic sealing were to remain unchanged.
But in order to quiet all apprehension on that score, I would propose the following provisional regulations.
1. That pelagic sealing should be prohibited in the Behring Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the adjoining waters, during the months of May and June, and during the months of October, November, and December, which may be termed the “migration periods” of the fur seal.
2. That all sealing vessels should be prohibited from approaching the breeding islands within a radius of 10 miles.
These regulations would put a stop to the two practices complained of as tending to exterminate the species; firstly, the slaughter of female seals with young during the migration periods, especially in the narrow passes of the Aleutian Islands; secondly, the destruction of female seals by marauders surreptitiously landing on the breeding islands under cover of the dense fogs which almost continuously prevail in that local. ity during the summer.
Mr. Taylor, another agent of the United States Government asserts that the female seals (called cows) go out from the breeding islands every day for food. The following is an extract from his evidence:
The cows go 10 and 15 miles, and even farther. I do not know the average of itand they are going and coming all the morning and evening. The sea is black with them round about the islands. If there is a little fog and they get out half a mile from shore we can not see a vessel 100 yards even. The vessels themselves lay around the islands there where they pick up a good many seal, and there is where the killing of cows occurs when they go ashore.
Whether the female seals go any distance from the islands in quest of food, and if so, to what distance, are questions in dispute, but pending their solution the regulation which I propose against the approach of sealing vessels within 10 miles of the islands for the prevention of surreptitious landing practically meets Mr. Taylor's complaint, be it well founded or not, to the fullest extent; for, owing to the prevalence of fogs, the risk of capture within a radius of 10 miles will keep vessels off at a much greater distance.
This regulation if accepted by Her Majesty's Government would certainly manifest a friendly desire on their part to cooperate with your Government and that of Russia in the protection of their rookeries and in the prevention of any violation of the laws applicable thereto. I have the honor to inclose a draft of a preliminary convention which I have prepared, providing for the appointment of a mixed commission who are to report on certain specified questions within two years.
The draft embodies the temporary regulations above described together with other clauses which appear to me necessary to give proper effect to them.
Although I believe that it would be sufficient during the “migration periods” to prevent all sealing within a specified distance from the passes of the Aleutian Islands I have out of a deference to your views and to the wishes of the Russian Minister, adopted the fishery line de. scribed in Article V, and which was suggested by you at the outset of our negotiation. The draft, of course, contemplates the conclusion of a further convention after full examination of the report of the mixed