HC Deb 03 April 1911 vol 23 cc1778-9

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what was the limits in distance from the mainland of territorial waters claimed for fishery purposes by Norway, Russia, Denmark, Germany, Spain, and Portugal; whether all the sea between the most southernly of the Lofoden Islands and the mainland is claimed as territorial water by Norway; what was the approximate distance from that island to the mainland; whether the pearl fishery banks of Ceylon were claimed by Great Britain to be in territorial waters; and what is their greatest distance from the mainland of Ceylon?


Denmark, Germany, and Portugal maintain a territorial limit of three miles for fishery purposes. Russia is at the present time claiming twelve miles, while Norway and Spain have for some time past claimed four and six miles respectively. His Majesty's Government, however, have always declined to recognise these extensions of the generally accepted three-mile limit. Norway claims exclusive fishery rights in the Westfjord, which lies between the Lofoden Islands and the mainland, but no definite limit to the waters thus claimed appears ever to have been specified. The distance from the most southern of the Lofoden Islands to the mainland is about fifty miles. In 1869 His Majesty's Consul-General at Christiania was informed that His Majesty's Government could not recognise any right to exclude fishing, except within the limits adopted by the British, French, and German Governments. His Majesty's Government do not claim jurisdiction over the Ceylon pearl fisheries on the ground that they are situate within territorial waters, but because the beds are capable of being physically occupied in a manner analogous to the occupation of land; and, further, because from time immemorial, and, therefore, before the adoption of the present three-mile limit, they have been treated by the successive rulers of Ceylon as subjects of property and jurisdiction, and have been so regarded with the acquiescence of other nations.


Is it a fact that along about one-half of the coast of Europe the three-mile limit is not accepted by the bordering State?


Perhaps the hon. Member would give me notice of that question.