'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf' [9r] (17/62)
The record is made up of 1 file (31 folios). It was created in 10 Mar 1904-19 Jun 1918. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.
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Enclosure No. 1.
India Ofrioe to Foreign Office.
India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. ,
30th June 1904;.
I am directed hy Mr. Secretary Brodrick to forward, to be laid
before the Marquess of Lansdowne, a copy of a letter from the Govern
ment of India in the Secret Department, No. 63, dated 10th March
1904, on the subject of the policy to be pursued in order to prevent any
interference by foreign enterprise with the rights enjoyed by the tribes
under our protection in the pearl fisheries on tlie Arabian Coast of the
Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. .
The attention of the Government of India has agnin been called to
the question by the proceedings of two Frenchmen who visited Bahrein
in K!03. with the intention o!" prospecting the pearl fisheries round the
island The Chief of Bahrain refused to entertain their proposals, but
it is reported that they are taking steps to procure from Europe the-
means of conducting fishing operations. No immediate action is
necessary, but; having regard to the serious nature of the situation"
which would arise if interlopers commenced fishing operations on pearl
banks in respect of which the tribes would look to us to defend their
monopoly, the Government of India request the opinion of His Majesty's
Government on the policy to be pursued in the event of such a
The question oi policy, as the Government of India indicate, is
governed by that of the extent of the legal powers of intervention
against foreign intrusion possessed by the British Government in virtue
of their agreements with the tribes. The result of these agreements,
under which the use of armed boats by the Ch efs is prohibited, has
been to impose on us the responsibility for the maintenance of order in
these waters, and the obligation to defend, so far as they can reasonably
be substantiated, the rights of the tribes in the fisheries*
A report by the Legal Adviser to this Office on the questions of law
raised in the Government of India's Despatch is enclosed, and Mr.
Brodrick would suggest that the matter should b^ submitted to the
Law Officers of the Crown with a view to ascertain the extent to which
the Government of India might be authorised to intervene against
interlopers, whether foreigners or British subjects, should the necessity
arise. There can be no question, in Mr. Brodrick's opinion, of tho
- ~ extreme desirability of securing to the tribes in the future the monopoly
which they have hitherto enjoyed.
The material facts may be stated as follows : —
1. Tho pearl fishery banks lie off the Arabian Coast of the Persian
Gulf. They extend, as shown on the charts enclosed with the Govern
ment of India's Despatch, from Umm-ui-Kawain to near the head of the
Gult. His Majesty's Government has agreements wiih the Arab Chiefs
of Ras-al-Khaimah, Umm-al-Kawain, Ajman, Shargah, D.-hai, Abu
Drhabi and Bahrein, by which the Chiefs have practically sur.-endeied
their foreign relations into the hands of the British Government. The
question of making a similar agreement with the Sheikh of El Katr is
now under the consideration of His Majesty's Government. North of
* Bahrein the sovereignty over the western shore of the Gulf belongs to
the Sultan of Turkey, with the exception of the territories of the Sheikh
of Koweit, whose special relations with His Majesty's Government are
known to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
About this item
The contents of the file relate to the British Government’s concerns over growing British and international interest in the Gulf’s pearling industry, hitherto almost exclusively exploited by the region’s indigenous inhabitants.
1) The first half of the file (folios 2-13) comprises copies of Government of India correspondence published in 1904 and 1905, which discuss Britain’s historic role in the Gulf in relation to the pearling industry. Themes covered include: Britain’s duty to protect the pearl banks for the benefit of the Arab pearl divers, acknowledgement of growing national and international interest in the pearl banks, the extent of territorial waters, and the likely result of any legal challenges to Britain’s refusal to allow foreign interests the opportunity to exploit the Gulf’s pearl banks.
2) Correspondence relating to an enquiry by a German businessman, concerning the pearl trade in the Gulf (folios 15-17).
3) Printed copies of correspondence (folios 20-23) from the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. (Lieutenant-Colonel Percy Cox) and the Bahrain Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. (Captain Charles Mackenzie), dated 1910, concerning the increasing trade in oyster shells in the Gulf, used for the production of mother of pearl. A drop in the numbers of oysters being fished is attributed to the mother of pearl industry. A German firm based in Bahrain, Wonckhaus & Co., is identified as a key exporter of oyster shells at Bahrain.
4) A letter (folio 27) intercepted by the Political Agency An office of the British Government and, earlier, of the East India Company. in Bahrain, from the Secretary of the Wolverine Motor Works, U.S.A., to Robert Wonckhaus & Co., dated 3 February 1915. The letter and accompanying leaflet (folios 28-29) relates to Wolverine Motor Works’ new combined compressor and propelling motor, designed specifically for use in the pearl fishing industry.
5) A typewritten extract from the Times of India Illustrated , dated 19 [month missing, presumed June] 1918 (folio 30) reporting on rumours that German financiers are buying up all the pearls available in Britain and France.
- Extent and format
- 1 file (31 folios)
The contents of the file have been arranged in approximate chronological order, running from the earliest items at the front of the file to the latest at the end.
- Physical characteristics
Foliation: The file is foliated from its front cover to inside back cover, using circled pencil numbers in the top-right corner of each recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. . There is an additional pagination system running throughout the file.
Folio 29 is a fold-out.
There is minor insect damage to papers throughout the file.
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- 'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf'
- front, front-i, 2r:14v, 16v:26v, 27v, 30r:30v, back-i, back
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