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The situation of the Pribylov Islands and the habits of the seal together cause the problem of its preservation to be one of extreme simplicity if approached from the point of view of protection on and about the islands, but one of very great difficulty if looked at from any other stand-point. The long-continued and presumably accurate observations which have been made on the habits of the seals show that during the entire breeding season they are very closely confined to the immediate shores of the breeding islands, and that neither in arriving nor in departing from these islands do they form schools or appear together in such numbers as to render promiscuous slaughter at sea possible. The old bulls actually remain on shore during the entire breeding season, while the females, though leaving their young from time to time for the water, are described as haunting the immediate vicinity of the shores just beyond the line of surf. Even the bachelor seals (Elliott, op. cit., pp. 45, 64 et passim; Allen, op. cit., p. 386), which constitute a distinct body while ashore and are not actually engaged in breeding or protecting the young, are said to remain close to the shore. If, however, any seals are to be found at this time going to or returning from the sea at some distance from land, these belong to the "bachelor" class, which is the very class selected for the killing by the fur company. The young females, after leaving the islands in the year of their birth, do not return at all till after reaching maturity in their third year. (Allen, op. cit., p. 402.)
The evidence obtained by Captain Bryant shows that while "snall groups of small seals (apparently one and two years old)" are met with at large in Behring Sea during July and August, no considerable numbers of schools are to be found. (Allen, op. cit., p. 411.)
It is thus apparent that the perfect security of the seals actually engaged in breeding and suckling their young may be secured without extending the limits of protection beyond the usual distance of 3 miles from the shores of the breeding islands, but that for the purpose of increasing the facilities of supervision a somewhat wider limit might reasonably be accorded. Possibly by defining an area inclosed by lines joining points 3 miles off the extreme headlands and inlets of the Pribylov group, an ample and unobjectionable area of protection might be established.
It is allowed by all naturalists that the habits of the fur-seals of the southern hemisphere are identical with those of the seal of the North Pacific, and it is therefore admissible to quote the observations of Dampier on Juan Fernandez Island in further confirmation of the fact that these animals go only for a very short distance from land during the breeding season, even when in immense multitudes on the shore. Dampier writes:
"Here are always thousands, I might say possibly millions of them, either sitting on the bays or going and coming in the sea round the islands, which is covered with them (as they lie at the top of the water playing and sunning themselves) for a mile or two from the shore." ("A New Voyage Round the World,” 1703; quoted by Allen, op. cit., p. 334.)
These rookeries have, like others in the South, been long since depleted and abandoned.
The circumstance that the female fur-seal becomes pregnant within a few days after the birth of its young, and that the period of gestation is nearly twelve months, with the fact that the skins are at all times fit for market (though for a few weeks, extending from the middle of August to the end of September, during the progress of the shedding and renewal of the longer hair, they are of less value) show that there is no natural basis for a close season generally applicable. Thus, should any close season be advocated, its length and the time of year during which it shall occur, can only be determined as a matter of convenience and be of the nature of a compromise between the various interests involved. The pelagic habits of the seals during fully six months of each year, and the fact that they are during the entire winter season widely dispersed over the Pacific, constitute a natural and unavoidable close season. It is thus only possible, from a commercial point of view, to kill the seals during the period of their approximate concentration for migration or when in Behring Sea. This is the period fixed by nature during which seals may be taken, and any artificial close season can be effective only if applied to the further curtailment of the time at which it is possible to carry on the fishery. It may be assumed, therefore, as such a close season for seal hunting at sea must be purely arbitrary and artificial, that any close season proposed by the United States or the lessees of the seal islands will be chosen entirely in the interest of sealing on shore, and so arranged as to render the time of sealing on the open sea as short and unprofitable as possible. It is thus important that the sea-going sealers should at least have an equal voice in the matter of the time and duration of a close period if such should be contemplated. GEORGE M. DAWSON.
MARCH 5, 1890.
Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.
WASHINGTON, March 24, 1890. (Received March 24.)
SIR: In pursuance of instructions which I have received from Her Majesty's principal secretary of state for foreign affairs, I have the honor to inform you that, with the view to giving full effect to the final act of the Berlin Conference on the affairs of Samoa, the Marquis of Salisbury has directed her Majesty's consul at Apia to concert with his German and United States colleagues, measures to be taken at once for that end, and I now beg to communicate to you the substance of the instructions which have been sent to Colonel de Coetlogon on the subject, which is as follows:
Samoan laws having been passed on the 18th December last, making the provisions of article IV respecting land and of article VII respecting arms and intoxicating liquors binding upon Samoans, Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that regulations should be issued by the consuls of the three treaty powers enforcing the stipulations of those articles on their respective nationals, in so far as this has not been done, and that measures should also be taken to proceed with the division of the municipal territory into electoral wards, in order that the chief justice may be enabled, immediately on his assuming his func tions, to order the election and induction into office of the local administration in accordance with article v.
Her Majesty's consul has been informed at the same time that Her Majesty's Government are further of opinion that it will be well, on financial grounds, that the provisions of article VI should come into force before the definitive organization of the municipal administration, which, under article V, can not take place until the chief justice and the president of the municipal council have been appointed and assumed office; and he has been therefore instructed to arrange with his German and United States colleagues, in concert with the Samoan Government, to fix by public notice an early date for the collection of taxes and duties, and to appoint, provisionally, the authorities charged with the collection and administration of the revenue, pending the time when the administration shall be taken over by the municipal council.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 24th instant, in which, under instructions from the Marquis of Salisbury, you communicate the substance of the instructions sent to Her Majesty's consul at Apia, touching his coöperation with the consular representatives of Germany and the United States in taking measures preliminary to the execution of the general act of Berlin.
The instructions under which Colonel de Coetlogon is to act appear to agree with the proposition submitted to me by the German minister at this capital on the 2d instant and with the telegraphic instruction which,
in pursuance of the joint understanding then reached, I sent on the 6th instant by way of Auckland to Vice-Consul Blacklock, directing him to join simultaneously with the British and German consuls in orders restricting the traffic in firearms and liquors, and defining the election districts of the municipality, and also in concerting with the Samoan Government to fix a date for beginning the collection of taxes and customs and to provisionally appoint collectors.
I have, etc.,
JAMES G. BLAINE.
Mr. Blaine to Sir Julian Pauncefote.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: The delay in securing a full conference with the President touching the appointment of a chief justice for Samoa has necessarily postponed my reply to your inquiry on the subject.
I am now instructed by the President to say that in his judgment the appointment of a chief justice by the King of Sweden, according to the provisions of the treaty, would tend to create greater harmony in Samoa, where the tripartite treaty is about to be put in operation, than the appointment of that officer by any one of the signatory powers.
I shall be glad if you will communicate this opinion of the President to the Imperial Government of Germany, which originated the plan of taking a chief justice from England.
I am, etc.,
JAMES G. BLAINE.
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 proposal of the United States had now been two years before Her Majesty's Government, that there was nothing further to urge in support of it; and you invited me to make a counter proposal on their behalf. To that task I have most earnestly applied myself, and while fully sensible of its great difficulty, owing to the conflict 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 have 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 opin ion, to arrive at any solution which would satisfy public opinion either in Canada or Great Britian, 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 by investigated by the commission. Those measures, which I will explain later on, would effectually remove all responsible 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. Elliott, 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 comparison with that caused by their natural enemies, and he 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 fire-arms 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 information of eastern United States Senators and Congressmen.
The Canadian Government estimate the percentage of seals so 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 diminution 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:
I. That pelagic sealing should be prohibited in the Behring Sea, the Sea of Ochotsk, 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.
II. 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 locality 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 further-I do not know the average of it-and 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 scals 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 cer