HC Deb 09 September 1887 vol 321 cc15-6
MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If his attention has been called to the reported arrival of the Canadian schooner Pathfinder, at Victoria, Columbia, from American waters with 3,000 seal skins, having eluded detection by the United States cruisers; if so, whether, if not already issued, Her Majesty's Government will cause to be published notices prohibiting British subjects against these infractions of the Alaskan Fishery Laws; how many British vessels have been captured for alleged illegal seal fishing, and whether any of them have been released or condemned, or the masters fined; if the vessel recently captured, and which was ordered to proceed to an American port, but instead of doing so went to a British port, will, with her crew, be transferred to American jurisdiction; and, whether it is true that her Majesty's Government intend arranging for a reference of the Behrings Straits fishery disputes to a separate Commission; or, is it intended to refer them to the Commission already arranged with the United States Government?


Her Majesty's Government have no information respecting the proceedings in the case of the Pathfinder; but unless she had been engaged in fishing within three miles of the coast she would not—in the view of Her Majesty's Government—have rendered herself liable to lawful seizure. Reports have been received of the seizure of seven vessels in all, three last fishing season and four in the present year; but orders were given by the United States Authorities for the discontinuance of all pending judicial proceedings, and for the discharge of the vessels and persons seized, reserving any questions involved. As was stated to the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) on the 5th instant, Her Majesty's Govern- ment are in communication with the Government of the United States on the subject of these seizures. I am not prepared, at present, to state what course Her Majesty's Government will take as to dealing with this question.