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BEHRING SEA. SUPPLEMENT TO SESSIONAL PAPERS, 1888, RELATING TO THE SEIZURE OF BRITISH VESSELS ENGAGED… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1892

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 55 Vict. Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea. 425
BEHRING   SEA.
SUPPLEMENT TO SESSIONAL PAPERS, 1888, RELATING TO THE SEIZURE
OF BRITISH VESSELS ENGAGED IN SEAL FISHING.
By Command.
JNO. ROBSON,
Provincial Secretary.
Provincial Secretary's Office,
17th February, 1892.
[Tklkgrams.]
Victoria, 17th February, 1888.
Hon. Thos.  White, Ottawa:
What is being  done about  Behring Sea  matter 1    Collector Hamley is refusing to clear
our vessels for there.     Will warship be sent to protect British interests in that sea 1
(Signed)        Jno. Robson.
Ottawa, 21st February, 1888.
Hon. Jno. Robson:
Behring Sea matter still unsettled.    Sealers must go on their own responsibility.    Cannot guarantee protection.
(Signed)        Geo. E. Foster.
Victoria, 2nd March, 1888.
&ir John Macdonald, Ottawa:
United States Marshal at Sitka orders sale on (18th 1 eighteenth April, at Sitka, of
(12,000) twelve thousand seal skins, about half British property. Would United States
Government give directions for British vessels and skins to be bonded pending settlement of
seizures between the two Governments, and without reference to an appeal to the United
States law courts? Principal owners here of vessels and skins are very much afraid of
United States law courts.    Please answer.
(Signed)        Jno. Robson.
Ottawa, 6th March, 1888.
Hon. Jno. Robson,  Victoria :
Re your telegram Sir John.    Am waiting reply from Washington.
(Signed)        G. E. Foster.
Victoria, 16th March, 1888.
Hon. G. E. Foster:
Re bonding seal skins  Behring Sea, owners  here most urgent for answer, as time of sale
drawing near1, and immediate action necessary.
(Signed)       Jno. Robson. 426 Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea. 1892
Ottawa, 17th March, 1888.
Hon. Jno. Robson,  Victoria :
No reply yet to representation made through British Minister at Washington.
(Signed)        Geo. E. Foster.
Victoria, 26th March, 1888.
His Excellency the Governor-General, Ottawa, Canada :
Information received that sealers on point of departure are arming their vessels and crews
to resist capture in Behring Sea.
(Signed)        Hugh Nelson,
Lieutenant-Governor.
Ottawa, 27th March, 1888.
To Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, Victoria :
Your Government should issue public notice cautioning persons going on sealing expeditions
to refrain from assertion of their rights by force, and from taking on board arms and ammunition
in excess of their usual requirements. The whole matter is engaging the attention of Her
Majesty's Government, and forms the subject of diplomatic negotiations now in progress; any
intemperate action in the meanwhile would be most detrimental to British Columbian interests,
and might lead to serious complications, and be followed by grave consequences to those
concerned.
(Signed)        Lansdowne.
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive Council, approved by His
Honour the Lieutenant-Governor on the 28th day of March, 1888.
The Committee of Council have had under consideration the enclosed report from the
Honourable the Minister supervising the Attorney-General's Department, dated 27th March,
1888, and recommend that a telegraphic despatch, in the terms of the draft hereto annexed, be
forthwith sent to the Dominion Government, and that a copy of the Minister's report be
transmitted to the Honourable the Secretary of State for Canada.
Certified,
(Signed)        A. Campbell Rkddie,
Deputy Clerk Executive Council.
The Minister having the supervision of the department of the Attorney-General desires to
refer to the seizure, in the year 1886, by the American gun-vessel " Corwin," of the Canadian
vessels "Carolina," "Thornton," and "Onward," while such vessels were engaged in the
peaceable occupation of taking seals in Behring Sea, out of sight of land; the " Carolina " in
Lat. 55° 50' N., Long. 168° 53' W.; the "Onward" in 54° 52' N., Long. 167° 55' W.; and
the "Thornton" in about the same latitude and longitude, and all of them a distance of more
than 100 miles from the nearest mainland, and 70 miles from the nearest island. And the
Minister desires also to call attention to the further seizure, by the American gun-vessel
"Bear," of the Canadian schooners "Anna Beck," "Dolphin," "Grace," "W. P. Sayward,"
and " Ada," whilst similarly engaged in fishing for seals in Behring Sea, at a distance of
upwards of 60 miles from the nearest land, and to the authority pleaded by the United States
in justification of such seizures, that the 1,596th section of the Revised Statutes of the United
States prohibits the killing of fur-bearing animals within the limits of Behring Sea, Alaska
Territory, or in the waters thereof, and sections 1,960 and 1,961 restrict and prohibit the
taking of seals upon the islands of St. Paul and St. George, or in the waters adjacent thereto,
and that Alaskan waters embrace all of the Behring Sea east of a line from Behring Strait to
a point west of the most western of the Aleutian Islands, and that the Behring Sea is mare
clausum. >5 Vict. Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea. 427
The Minister also desires to refer to a report of a Committee of the Honourable the Privy
Council for Canada, approved by His Excellency the Governor-General in Council on the 29th
November, 1886, and a copy whereof was transmitted to the Right Honourable the Secretary
of State for the Colonies, and to Her Majesty's Minister at Washington, wherein are fully set
out the facts and circumstances attendant upon the seizure of the said vessels " Carolina,"
"Onward," and "Thornton," and wherein the jurisdiction claimed on the part of the United
States Government is fully discussed.
The report observes that it does not appear necessary to insist at any greater length that
the conditions attaching to mare clausnm cannot by any possibility be predicated of Behring Sea,
and that the seizure of Canadian vessels, at a distance of over 100 miles from the mainland,
and 70 miles from the nearest island, constitutes a high-handed extension of maritime jurisdiction, unprecedented in the law of nations.
The Minister desires, also, to call attention to the fact that these illegal and highhanded
proceedings on the part of the United States have not been in any way explained or atoned
for, but that, on the contrary, the vessels aforesaid, together with their valuable cargoes of
seals, having been forcibly taken from their owners, still remain in the possession of United
States servants.
Attention is also directed to the letter of Sir Lionel West, Her Majesty's Minister at
Washington, to Mr. Bayard, the Secretary of State for the United States, dated 21st October,
1886, protesting in the name of Her Majesty's Government against the seizures, and reserving
all rights to compensation.
The Minister has the honour to report that it has been brought to his attention that
several of Her Majesty's subjects, engaged in the fishing trade, have recently, at large expense,
equipped vessels for the enterprise of catching fur seals in the Behring Sea during the
approaching season, and are now about to proceed to the Behring Sea for that purpose, but
that a notice issued from the Treasury Department at Washington, dated the 5th March, 1888,
warns all parties of the jurisdiction of the United States over what are claimed to be the
waters of Alaska, and of the prohibition against the killing of fur bearing animals within such
area, thus pointing to the further invasion of the right of British subjects to take seals in the
Behring Sea.
The Minister also reports that information has been received by him that, with a view to
protecting their vessels and property from the lawless designs of the United States Government, some of the persons interested are arming their vessels and crews. It therefore appears
that, unless protection is afforded Her subjects by Her Majesty's Imperial Government, not
only will Her subjects be hindered in the pursuit of their unquestionable right of seal fishing in
Behring Sea, but serious loss of property, and possibly human life, may result. The Minister
therfore advises that a telegraphic despatch be forthwith sent to the Dominion Government,
urging that Government to move Her Majesty's Imperial Government to take such steps as
may be deemed advisable for the protection of British interests in the Behring Sea, and that
a copy of this report (if approved) be forthwith transmitted to the Honourable the Secretary
of State for Canada.
(Signed)        Theodore Davie,
Minister Sitpervising the Department of the Attorney-General.
27th March, 1888.
[Telegrams.]
Victoria, 28th March, 1888.
Secretary of State, Ottawa :
My ministers report that they understand that some persons interested in sealing, with a
view to protecting their vessels and property from lawless designs of United States
Government, are arming their vessels and crew, and unless protection is afforded by Imperial
Government serious loss of property, and possibly human life, may result. Dominion
Government are, therefore, urged to move Imperial Government to take such steps as may be
deemed advisable for the protection of British interests in Behring Sea.
Despatched by mail.
(Signed)       Hugh Nelson,
Lieutenant-Governor.
[Receipt acknowledged by the Secretary of State in despatch dated 10th April, 1888.] 428      . Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea. 189:
Ottawa, 2nd April, 1888.
To Hon. Jno. Robson, Victoria :
We think your Government should notify Behring Sea vessels against armed resistance.
What progress in fitting out vessels has been made, and what effect Government notice has
had 1
(Signed)        John A. Macdonald.
Victoria, 5th April, 1888.
Sir J. A. Macdonald :
Lord Lansdowne's telegram to Lieutenant-Governor was published on 29th ultimo, as a
warning, and, I believe, arming has been discontinued ; but assurance of protection considered
essential to avert serious trouble.
(Signed)        Jno. Robson.
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Hon. the Executive Council, approved by His Honour
the Lieutenant-Governor on the 17th, April, 1888.
The Committee of Council submit for the approval of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor
the following Resolution, passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British
Columbia during the present Session, viz.:—
" Whereas a number of British sea-going vessels used in the lawful avocation of catching
seals in the Behring Sea, outside the three-mile limit, were seized by cruisers of the United
States of America ; their appliances, cargoes, and catch confiscated, and their officers and crews
imprisoned, thus inflicting serious personal and pecuniary injury upon British subjects ;
" And whereas, up to the end of the past year, the officers of the Government of the
Dominion of Canada failed to notify the owners of British vessels, when clearing at the Custom
House for the purpose of proceeding to Behring Sea to engage in seal catching, that they did
so at their own risk ;
" Be it therefore resolved, That a respectful Address be presented to His Honour the
Lieutenant-Governor, requesting him to move the Dominion Government to compensate the
owners of British vessels for the losses thus incurred; and to obtain from the United States
authorities a reimbursement of the sum so expended."
The Committee advise that a copy of this Minute, if approved, be forwarded to the
Honourable the Secretary of State for Canada.
Certified,
(Signed)        A. Campbell Reddie,
Deputy Clerk Executive Council.
[Receipt acknowledged by the Secretary of State in despatch dated 27th April, 1888.]
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive Council, approved by His
Honour the Lieutenant-Governor on the 2nd May, 1888.
The Committee of Council beg to report that at the late Session of the Legislative
Assembly the following Resolution was passed, viz.:—
"Whereas it is reported that a Joint Commission of Great Britain and the United States,
which lately sat at Washington to prepare a new International Fisheries Treaty, have reached
a settlement upon a basis satisfactory to the said Commission, so far as the Atlantic fisheries
are concerned ;
" And whereas it is further reported that the said Joint Commission have concluded their
labours without having made provision to assure the freedom from seizure by American cruisers
of British vessels, while such vessels are engaged in the peaceful and lawful calling of catching
seals in Behring Sea; 55 Vict. Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea. 429
"And whereas serious personal and pecuniary injury have been inflicted upon British
subjects, involving, in at least one instance, life, from the seizure of Canadian vessels in said
sea by American cruisers, the confiscation of their cargoes, and the imprisonment of their
officers and crews;
"And whereas this House is of opinion that the contention of the United States Government that Behring Sea is a closed sea is an arbitrary assumption, which is justified neither by
international law, treaty, nor precedent; therefore, be it
" Resolved, That this House learns with feelings of surprise and regret that no effective
steps appear to have been taken for the purpose of securing indemnity for past seizures and
outrages committed upon British subjects exercising their undoubted rights in Behring Sea,
and by which several enterprising citizens have suffered serious loss and an important industry
has been crippled."
The Committee fully concur in the views expressed by the Legislative Assembly with
regard to the Behring Sea seizures, and advise, that this Minute be approved, and a copy
forwarded to the Honourable the Secretary of State for Canada.
Certified,
(Signed)        A. Campbell Reddie,
Deputy Clerk Executive Council.
[Receipt acknowledged by the Secretary of State in despatch dated 18th May, 1888.]
Copy of a  Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive Council, approved by His
Honour the Lieute?iant-Governor on the 19th July, 1888.
The Committee of Council recommend in relation to the proposed sale by United States
authorities of certain British vessels seized in Behring Sea under the authority of the United
States in 1887, as mentioned in the accompanying letter, that His Honour the Lieutenant-
Governor should be advised to dispatch the enclosed telegram to the Hon. C. H. Tupper,
Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa.
Certified,
(Signed)        A. Campbell Reddie,
Deputy Clerk Executive Council.
[Telegram.]
Victoria, 19th July, 1888.
Hon. C. H. Tupper,
Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa :
Sealing schooners Anna Beck, Dolphin, Grace, and Ada, seized Behring Sea, 1887, are
now being taken from Sitka to Port Townsend, Puget Sound, to be sold by United States
Marshal of Alaska. Judge of District Court of Alaska has refused bonding to owners, giving
as reason application too late. Owners under present circumstances willing and anxious to
bond vessels for appraised values : Anna Beck, $2,600 ; Dolphin, $7,750 ; Grace, $10,404 ;
Ada, $2,900, or have sale postponed pending settlement of question. Will Dominion Government take necessary steps to secure this, if possible, from United States Government 1
(Signed)        Hugh Nelson,
Lieutenant-Governor.
Victoria, 19th July, 1888.
Hon. A. E. B. Davie,
Premier and Attorney-General, Victoria, B. C:
Dear Sir,—I understand that the sealing schooners Grace, Dolphin, Anna Beck, and
Ada, all, except the latter, of this port, are now being taken from Sitka by the United States
Marshal of Alaska to Port Townsend, there, under a decree of forfeiture, to be sold on or
about August 17th next. Under the present circumstances and conditions of the Behring Sea
difficulty I think it highly important that every effort should be made to prevent the sale of
these vessels, either by securing their release on bonding, or by the postponement of their sale
pending a final settlement of the question,    An unsuccessful effort was made in April last to 4?0 Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea. 1892
bond out the vessels named, the Judge of the Alaska District Court refusing the application on
the ground that it was too late to appeal the cases to the Supreme Court of the United States;
the one condition on which they could be released on bonds. The course of events since that
time point strongly in the direction of an early settlement of the dispute, and with this in view
it is most important to all interests concerned that these vessels should be in possession of their
owners. It is, therefore, respectfully asked that your Government communicate at once with
the Canadian Government urging that the privilege of bonding the above vessels be secured
from the Washington authorities, or, failing that, that a strong effort be made to secure a
postponement of their sale pending the settlement of the question.
I remain, sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed)        J. D. Warren.
[Telegrams.]
To Lieutenant-Governor Nelson,  Victoria .
Ottawa,  20th July, 1888.
Government has already taken action in direction  you  requested  re condemned  sealing
vessels.
(Signed)        Chas. H. Tupper.
Ottawa, 21st August, 1888.
To His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia,  Victoria:
West advised Governor-General, under date eighteenth August, that directions have been
given by Acting Attorney Garrison, both by letter and telegram, to postpone the sale of the
schooners.    The Marshal has also been directed to receive bonds in lieu of the vessels.
(Signed)        Chas. H. Tupper,
M. M. & F.
Ottawa, 23rd October, 1888.
To His Honour Lieutenant-Governor kelson, Victoria :
Schooner Ada, of which James J. Gray claims ownership, is reported to be registered at
Shanghai. Please explain this, and wire if Gray objects to appraisement at sum stated in
your telegram to me of twentieth of July.
(Signed)        Charles H. Tupper,
M. M. & F.
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive Council, approved by His
Honour the Lieutenant-Governor on the 25th day of October, 1888.
The Committee of Council having had under consideration a memorandum from the
Honourable the Attorney-General, dated the 25th October, 1888, in which—after adverting
to the telegram received by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor from the Honourable the
Minister of Marine and Fisheries with reference to the schooner Ada, and stating that the
annexed letter has been received from Morris Moss, attorney in fact for James J. Gray, owner
of the said schooner—it is recommended that a telegram, of which the enclosed is a draft, be
forwarded by His Honour to the Honourable the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, advise
that the recommendation be approved.
Certified,
(Signed)        A. Campbell Reddie,
Deputy Clerk, Executive Council, 55  Vict. Seizure of British Vessels in Behrtng Sea. 43l
[Telegrams.
To the Honourable Charles H. Tupper,
Minister of Marine and Fisheries,  Ottawa :
Victoria, 26th October, 1888.
Agent for owner schooner "Ada" does not object to appraisement at sum stated.
(Signed)        Hugh Nelson,
Lieutenant-Governor.
Victoria, B. C, 25th October, 1888.
Honourable Alexander Davie, Attorney-General, &c, &c:
Sir,—In reference to communication from Sir Charles Tupper, re schooner  " Ada," I beg
to inform you she is still in custody of U. S. Marshal at Port Townsend.
As agent and attorney for James J. Gray, her owner, I do not object to  appraisement at
sum stated for purpose of bonding.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed)        Morris Moss,
Attorney in fact for James J. Gray, owner.
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive Council, approved, by His
Honour the Lieutenant-Governor on the 27th day of November, 1888.
The Committee of Council recommend, in relation to the proposed sale by the United
States authorities of certain British vessels seized in Behring Sea, under the authority of the
United States Government in 1887, and with reference to a telegram dispatched by His
Honour on or about the 19th day of July last, upon the same subject, addressed to the
Honourable C. H. Tupper, Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa, His Honour the
Lieutenant-Governor should be advised to dispatch the enclosed further telegram to the
Honourable Minister of Marine and Fisheries.
Certified,
(Signed)        A. Campbell Reddie,
Deputy Clerk, Executive Council.
[Telegrams.]
Victoria, 27th November, 1888.
The Hon. C. H. Tupper,
Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa :
Owner of schooners, Grace, Dolphin, Anna Beck, anxiously awaiting positive reply from
Washington to proposition to re-appraise and bond schooners, pending final settlement of
Behring Sea question.
(Signed)        Hugh Nelson.
Lieutenant-Governor.
Ottawa, 29th November, 1888.
To Hon. Hugh Nelson, Lieut.-Governor:
Have asked Imperial Government for reply, and stated you are pressing.
(Signed)        Chas. H. Tupper. 432
Seizure of British Vessels in Behring Sea.
i892
[Privy Council.]
London,  10th December, lc
Lord Knutsford to Governor-General:
In  answer to your  telegram  of  29th   November,  Behring  Sea seizures,  United States
Government not yet answered.    Reminded 5th December by British Minister at Washington.
I Telegrams.]
Hon. E. Dewdney, Ottawa:
Victoria,  28th March, 1889.
Please keep us posted re situation Behring Sea and rights of our sealers to take seals.
(Signed)        Jno. Robson.
To Hon. John Robson :
Behring Sea matter receiving attention.
Ottawa,  3rd April, 1889.
(Signed)        E. Dewdney.
Victoria, 29th July, 1889.
Hon. E. Dewdney, Minister Interior, Ottawa :
On 11th instant, British schooner Black Diamond was seized by United States revenue
cutter Rush while sealing in Behring Sea seventy miles from shore, a prize crew put on and
sent to Ounalaska. Twenty-four British vessels from Victoria sealing there, and United States
officers threaten to seize all. Great indignation among owners here. Anxious to know what
will be done before steamer goes up on Thursday next. Are British subjects to have no
protection 1    Please answer.
(Signed)        Jno.  Robson.
Patrick, Quebec, 30th July, 1889.
To Hon. Jno. Robson, Victoria :
Sir John will see the Governor here Thursday  on his  way to  Ottawa,  regarding  Black
Diamond.
(Signed) E. Dewdney.
VICTORIA, B. C. :
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty.

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