Newfoundland; Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies

By R. A. MacKay | Go to book overview

VI
THE CONVENTION OF 1904

THE cessation of hostilities in South Africa afforded an opportunity for a thorough review of the numerous sources of friction between Great Britain and France. The Balfour Government was convinced that the time was ripe for an entente cordiale with France which would enable Great Britain to escape from Salisbury's dangerous policy of "splendid isolation" and which would also counterbalance the growing might of the Triple Alliance. This approach to a general settlement of long-standing differences with France necessarily involved a re-examination of the whole question of the French treaty rights in Newfoundland--a periodic source of Anglo-French discord.

Perceiving that Bond's proposal was unacceptable to France, the British government decided to discard it, and instead to propose an agreement by which France should retain a concurrent right of fishery on the French Shore, but should surrender her right to land and dry fish in consideration of compensation to be paid by the British government to the owners of all existing French establishments on the Treaty Coast.1 This proposal was communicated to Bond's Government, and on their request for a fuller explanation2 they were informed that the suggested agreement would not concede to the French either the right to catch whales or to fish for salmon in the rivers. In return for the surrender of the French right of landing and drying fish Britain asked Newfoundland to enact legislation for the regulation and policing of the concurrent fishery on a basis similar to that of the North Sea Fisheries Conventions of 1891 and 1897. This explanation was followed by the further assurance that the fishing rights of

____________________
1
on to Boyle, 14th January, 1904. Ibid., 1904, app. p. 226.
2
Cavendish Boyle to Lyttleton, 18th January, 1904. Ibid., app. p. 226.

-329-

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