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'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf' [‎21r] (41/62)

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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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{Confidential.)
No. 32*28, dated Bushire, the 4th (received 13th) December 1910.
From— L ieutenant- C olonel P. Z. Cox, C.S .I., C.I.E., 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. in 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. ,
To—The Secretary to the Government of India in the Foreign Department.
I have the honour to submit, for the consideration of the Government of
India, a copv of an interesting communi-
No. 763, dated 12th November 1910. cation addressed to me by the Political
Agent at Bahrain in which he reports the existence among the pearl fishing
talent at Bahrain of the conviction that the banks fished from that centre are
becoming depleted, and goes on to make certain suggestions in connection
therewith.
2. It will be seen that the Nakhodas attribute the depletion to the
inception and growth of the trade in oyster shells, whereby the banks are
deprived of the fertilising influence of the empty shells which in former days
used to be returned to the deep after examination for pearls. It is by this
trade in pearl-oyster shells, as I think the Government of India are aware,
that Messrs. Wonckhaus & Co. have been enabled to gain such a firm footing
in the Gulf.
3. It would seem premature to enter into any lively discussion of the
measures necessary to discourage the shell-trade or otherwise cope with the
reported depletion, until expert opinion has been obtained as to whether it is
due to the loss to the banks of the fertilising properties of the dead shells, or to
other causes; and I feel sure that the Government of India will agree with
Captain Mackenzie and myself as to the vital importance of probing the causes
of the depletion and taking effective steps, if such are possible, to remedy it.
j. No. 763, dated Bahrain, the 12th November 1910 (Confidential).
^ From— Captain,C. F. Mackenzie, I. A., 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. , Bahrain,
To—C olonel P. Z. Cox, C.S.I., C.I.E., 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. in 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. ,
Bushire.
I have the honour to inform you that such of the Nakhodas of Bahrain
as are interested in pearling are very much disappointed at the number of
oyster shells they are finding, and they alse complain that on the whole such
shells as are found appear to be of thinner quality than formerly, which in
their opinion is due to the oysters not being fully developed and consequently
there is less likelihood of obtaining pearls.
They attribute this diminution to the practice of bringing away a large
quantity of shells from the banks for sale in Bahrain, instead of the shells
being thrown back into the sea as formerly.
2. I had previously heard the opinion expressed by them that the throwing
back-of the old shells assisted the fertility of the beds, but had not considered
the '-m^t itpiv seriously until recently when this view has been persistently
presented to me by some of the leading Nakhodas. Originally I held it was
just as herring or other fisheries are good in one year, and the next year bad.
The Nakhodas state that the amount of shells brought up by the divers
this year represents only 40 per cent, of the number eight years ago and that
they have noticed a diminution the whole time but more especially in the last
two years.
This estimate of 40 per cent, is the highest given. Others estimate it at
25 per cent, but allowing for all exaggeration perhaps we may place it at 50
per cent.
The nearest estimate to the number of pearling vessels is for—
The year 1900 860
1905 917
„ 1910 970
1978 F. D.

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Content

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)
Arrangement

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.

Written in
English in Latin script
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'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf' [‎21r] (41/62), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/3, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100023484199.0x00002a> [accessed 21 February 2020]

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