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The fishing rights exercised by American citizens in the neighborhood of the eastern coast of British North America have been for nearly a century the subject of irritation and controversy between the peoples and governments of the two countries. Every effort to compose disputes and prevent difficulties has usually produced only a fresh and copious crop of doubtful questions and new points of collision.

At the peace of 1783 the banks of Newfoundland and the islands and coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence had been the common and productive fishing-ground of all his Majesty's northern colonies-chiefly indeed of those whose independence was acknowledged by the treaty of that year, for the population and enterprise of what are now known as the maritime provinces of Canada were then much less than those of New England and New York. By the third article of the treaty of 1783, then, it was agreed that the people of the United States shall continue to enjoy unmolested the right to take fish of every kind on the Grand Bank and all the other banks of Newfoundland, also in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and at all other places in the sea where the inhabitants of both countries used at any time heretofore to fish; and also that the inhabitants of the United States shall bave liberty to take fish of every kind on such part of the coast of Newfoundland as British fishermen shall use (but not to dry or cure the same on that island), VOL. CXXVIII.—NO. 266.

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and also on the coasts, bays, and creeks of all other of his Britannic Majesty's dominions in America, and that the American fishermen

; shall have liberty to dry and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbors, and creeks of Nova Scotia, Magdalen Islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain unsettled; but so soon as the same or either of them shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure fish at such settlement, without a previous agreement for that purpose with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the ground.”

Thus the whole waters and shores of British North America, with a certain limitation as to Newfoundland, were open to the American fishermen. There was no exception of waters within the marine league from the shore, which marks the limit of territorial dominion. Wherever there was sea, there was the place of rightsul fishery. In like manner, and with the like exception, the use of the shores for curing and drying was secured, subject to the rights of private possessors. It would not be easy to find any general language that should establish a clearer or more definite right; but the jealousy of British fishermen, beaten in the equal contest with the winds and waves and the erratic denizens of the sea on those dreary coasts, led British statesmen to find difficulties, and to maintain that the treaty was finally abrogated by the war of 1812, and not revived by the peace that followed it. So by the treaty of 1818 new provisions were made, by which, along certain parts of those coasts, the Americans were in terms excluded from fishing within the league line, and which defined by fixed bounds those parts of the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador where the Americans could fish within it. Thus the United States “renounced” all the inshore fisheries excepting the coasts of Newfoundland not occupied by the French fishermen, the Magdalen Islands, and that for the most of the year almost unapproachable shore of Labrador, extending from Mount Joli, through the strait of Belle Isle, to the Arctic, where the most abundant products of nature are storms, fogs, icebergs, and floes, for a territorial definition on the Newfoundland coast, in the place of common fishery with the British, and for the right to dry and cure fish on the unappropriated shores of that island. The causes of “ irritation and dispute" were to be removed by renouncing the larger part of American rights, the enjoyment of which produced them, and by the establishment of a new boundary to the enterprise and industry of American fishermen, not along shores whose location and identity could not be easily misunder.

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