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English 6.



Question: Has the United States exclusive jurisdiction over the Seal fisheries in Behring Sea?

Brief for the affirmative:


Best general references: Free Seal Fisheries of Alaska, 50th Cong. 2d Session, H. R. No. 3883; New England Magazine, 1890 p. 554.

I. According to International Law the United States has exclusive jurisdiction over Behring Sea. It is not contrary to custom for nations to hold unlimited sway over large bodies of water; e. g., Long Island Sound, Bay of Cheleurs, Fortune Bay, Irish Channel; Hall's International Law, p. 140; Halleck 1, 140; Phillimore 1, 216; Wheaton, p. 245.

II. The United States has an historical right to exclusive jurisdiction over the seal fisheries in Behring Sea. a. The purchase of Alaska included all rights possessed by Russia at the time of its sale; Convention of 1824 and treaty of 1867, Articles 1 and 2 (in U. S. Treaties, p. 937-943). b. Russia's rights had been acquired by; 1, Discovery; Occupation; Unintercepted possession; Annual Register for 1822; Bancroft's History of the Pacific States XXVIII, p. 62 and passim.

III. The fact of uninterrupted possession for a century by Russia and the United States justifies the present exclusive jurisdiction of the United States; cases of Santa Luna and of Delagoa Bay, Hall, p. 98-99.

IV. The peculiar nature of the seal fisheries requires the assertion and exercise of the just claims of the United States; Free Seal Fisheries passim; House Ex. Dve. 450, 51st Cong., 1st Sessession, p. 57-60. a. The indiscriminate slaughter of seals would result in the extermination of the fisheries and the loss of the revenue derived from them; Fur Seal Fisheries, p. 7 and passim.

Brief for the Negative:


Best general references: J. B. Angell in Forum, Nov. 1889; Correspondence of Blaine and Salisbury, (House Ex. Doc., 51st Congress, 1st Session, No. 450.)

I. The United States cannot claim control of the seal fishery in Behring Sea on ground of having exclusive jurisdiction over the whole sea since the United States has no claim to such jurisdiction. a. On natural grounds, because sea cannot be defended from the shore; Wharton's Digest of Int. Law of U. S., Vol. III, ch. 2, sec. 26, 33; Schuyler's American Diplomacy, p. 404; Queen vs. Keyn, L. R., 2 Exch., Div. 63; Ortolan, Diplomatie de la Mer, Lib. 2, Ch. 7; Hautefeuilie Droits et Devoirs des Nations Neutres, Tom 1, tit. 1, ch. 3, sec. 1; Kluber, Droit des Gens, sec. 130 (ed. 1861); Angell, Forum, Nov. 1889, p. 231. b. On historical grounds because Russia did not enforce exclusive jurisdiction; Ukase of Sept. 4, 1821, Correspondence of Blain and Salisbury p. 80. Letter of Russian Ambassador, Annual Register, 1822, p. 581.

II. The United States has no claim to the exclusive jurisdiction of seal fisheries alone because a. Wild animals in the high seas are the property of the first taker: Bouvier, Law Dictionary, Vol. 1, p 159; Correspondence of Blaine and Salisbury, p. 62. b. Prescription cannot validate a claim contrary to international law: Boyd's Wheaton, p. 257, 1. c. The rights claimed could only be gained by treaty or armed force: Halleck's Inter. Law., Vol. 1, p. 414 etseq.; ibd. Vol. II, p. 278; Correspondence of Blaine and Salisbury, p. 62.

III. The United States has no claim to exclusive jurisdiction of Seal fisheries on the ground that they are apeculiar industry: J. B. Angell in Forum, Nov. 1889, pp. 232-3.

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