'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf' [11v] (22/62)
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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Foreign Office to the Law Officers of the Crown.
Gentlemen, igth October 1904.
I have the honour to transmit to you herewith, by direction of
the Marquess of Lansdowne, the papers noted in the accompanying list,
relative to the question of the steps to be taken to pr vent foreign
inter fere nee Avitli the rights enjoyed by the tribes on the Arabian coast
oi" 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. in the pearl fisheries.
^ It will be observed, from the 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. letter of the 30th June
(Annex AV that the Government of India have called the attention of
His Majesty's Government to the fact that, by the steps they have con
sistently taken for mo«e than a century t > maintain the maritime peace
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. , they have deprived the Arab Chiefs on the eoa5;t of
the means of forcibly protecting their interests in the pearl fisheries,
and that they therefore feel themselves to be under an obli<ration to
def.'iid those li-hts in so fnr as they can reasonably be substantiated.
J hey cite instances in the past in which they have successfully
intervened to prevent the intrusion both of foreigners, by diplomatic
means, and of British subjects.
They recognise, however, that the position is difficult, both in regard
to British subjects and from the point of view of international law.
They, therefore, desire to ascertain the extent to which they may be
authorised to intervene, should the necessity arise.
The material facts may be stated as follows :—
1. The pearl fishery banks lie off the Arabian Coast of the Persian
Gulf, and off the coast of Bahrein. They extend, as shown on the
charts (Annex B), inclosed with the Government of India's letter, from
Um-ul-Kawain to near the head of the Gulf. His Majesty's Govern
ment have identical agreements (Annex C) with the Arab Chiefs of
Eas-ul-Khaimah. Um-ul-Kawain, Ajman, Shargah, Debai, Abu Dthabi,
and Bahrein, by which the Chiefs.have practically surrendered their
foreign relations into the hands of the British Government. The terri
tory of these Chiefs comprises the Arabian coast of the Gulf off which
the pearl banks lie up to the island of Bahrein, with the exception of
the promontory of El Katr, with whose Chief the question of making a
similar agreement is now under the consideration of His Majesty's
Government. North of Bahrein, the sovereignty over the Arabian
shore of the Gulf belongs to the Sultan of Turkey, with the exception
of the territory of the Sheikh of Koweit, who has special relations with
His Majesty's Government.
2. Apparently all the tribes fish for pearls wherever they are to be
found, and no tribe has exercised a right excluding the other tribes from
any part of the fishery.
3. Only members of the tribes have hitherto fished for pearls in these
Portions of some of the pearl banks lie within the three-mile
Some of the banks extend from within the three-mile limit
outwards for several miles.
(c) Some of the banks are entirely outside the three-mile limit.
In all these cases the tribes have exercised an exclusive and
concurrent right of fishing for pearls.
5. The tribes have not fished for pearls in the deep waters o(f the
banks, having no appliances for deep water fishing. It is apprehended
that dredging for pearls in such deep waters would materially injure
the pearl fishery on the banks ; and it is desired, if possible, to prevent,
dredging in such deep waters.
6. The action to be taken for the protection of the pearl fishery would
appear to depend on (1) the legal right of the tribes to a monopoly;
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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