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|Creator||Canada. Royal Commission on Claims by Pelagic Sealers Arising Out of the Washington Treaty.|
|Title||Commission to Investigate into and Report upon Claims of certain Canadian Pelagic Sealers Alleged to have been damnified by reason of the Pelagic Sealing Treaty of the 7th July, 1911 between Great Britain and the United States, Russia, and Japan, and by the Paris Award Regulations of 1893 fonds|
RG 33 107
|Document source||Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada|
This commission was established under an Order in Council in June 1913, under the Inquiries Act and on the recommendation of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries. A dispute over pelagic sealing (that is the killing, capturing, or pursuing of seals at sea) occurred in 1886 when the United States, in an effort to control the number of seals being hunted, seized three British sealing vessels in the Bering Sea. The sealers, outraged by this action, and the subsequent seizure of vessels manned by British subjects in international waters of the North Pacific Ocean, appealed to Great Britain to intervene on their behalf. Negotiations between the United States and Great Britain over the fur-seal fishing dispute resulted in a treaty between the two nations which was signed in 1892. Consequently, the Bering Sea Award of 1893 (also known as the Paris Award Regulations) disallowed the claim of the United States to exclusive jurisdiction over the sealing industry in the Bering Sea; allowed compensation to British subjects who suffered financial loss from American interference with pelagic sealing; and drafted certain regulations for the protection of the seal herds. In particular, firearms were no longer permitted; all seals had to be hunted with spears. However, the seal herds in the Bering Sea were continually threatened because pelagic sealing was vigorously pursued not only by the United States and Great Britain, but also by Russia and Japan. Sealers from Japan, a country which was not bound by the Paris Award regulations, ignored the restrictions against the use of firearms and did not respect the three-mile limit imposed on hunting off seal breeding rookeries. Thus, they began to dominate the industry. Their appearance in the North Pacific was a significant factor leading up to the Sealing Treaty of 1911. In that year, an international conference was called and delegates from the four nations involved drew up the Pelagic Sealing Convention (also known as the Treaty of Washington) which banned pelagic sealing in the Pacific Ocean north of the 30th parallel; regulated the hunting of seals on land; and awarded generous compensation to Great Britain. Subsequently, in 1913, a federal royal commission was established to deal with the way in which the compensation granted to Great Britain was to be paid out to Canadian sealers, including aboriginal peoples, who claimed damages not only under article XI of the Pelagic Sealing Treaty of 1911, but also under the Paris Award Regulations of 1893. The majority of the claims submitted arose out of restrictions imposed on sealing by the latter agreement.
This collection consists of transcripts of hearings, minute books, information relating to claims, correspondence, shorthand notes, drafts of the Commissioner's report and a typescript of the report signed by the commissioner.