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'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf' [‎22v] (44/62)

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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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- .
Such proclamation should issue by the New Year, when advances for
shells will commence, Or as soon after as is convenient.
Each Sheikh may order his own subjects not to sell shells at sea.
To obtain complete organization it would be preferable to take steps at
Lingah as weU as with the respective Chiefs, who I think will all willing
co-operate. 0
Sheikh Isa is not likely to care for the disruption of the shell trade as he
gets tour annas per bag export duty. "With due explanation as to possibility
or damage to pearl banks I feel sure he would readily assist.
, r 9 - T lf T mo fJ serious loss ensuing on the stoppage of this trade will fall on
Messrs. v\ onckhaus & Co., who would not be able to run their business in
Bahrain at a profit without the assistance of shells. %
. Messrs, Gray, Paul & Co. would be the next heavy losers, but their
interests m Bahrain are more varied.
• -^ ss u ould fall on the individual Arab and Persian merchants who
ship shells. One Hanniah firm occasionally also ships.
A certain amount of freight would be lost by the British India Steam
Navigation Company, while the Hamburg America Line would probably
discontinue the occasional calls they make at Bahrain on the homeward vovao-e
It would also mean that intentions of any direct Home Line of Britfsh
Steamers to call at Bahrain would probably fall through though not
necessarily. ^ 0
Taking the profits at 30 per cent., which is doubtful now that competition
lias increased so largely, we only get a loss of £8,000 in the biggest export
year, while if in future years the export falls to half as I anticipate, we only
obtain a loss of £4,000 which in accordance with present proportion of trade
would be distributed approximately as follows
Messrs. Wonckhaus & Co.
Messrs. Gray Paul & Co.
Moreover as year by year the competition increases, the profits from this
source decrease.
Other losses will be to the Nakhodas, who get now about Rs. 2 per cwt
It is thus seen that the losses are very trifling in comparison with the
■ staxe at issue.
10. The possibility of decrease in the output of the natural pearl banks
would seem to point to the advisability of considering whether under anv
conditions it would be possible or political to form a Company for fertilizing and
maintaining artificial beds within the territorial waters of Bahrain. &
Although waters so near land would not contain such promising localities
as other positions yet they appear to be less open to general objectioner:—
„ , ^ kereas there is no reasonable chance of asserting with success the ri^ht
or the i nbes to debar other nations from dredging deep waters (vidp I p Hpt
No. 8 dated 31st March 1905, 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. to His Excelled
Right Hon ble the Governor-General of India in Council), there would
assumabJy be the same difficulties in preventing artificial fertilization of likelv
spots over which the Tribes cannot maintain their right to exclusive possession
The object in view, viz., prevention, might or might not be attainable bv
indirect methods. *
The poiicy of Government is, I believe, to maintain the rights of the
Arabs. 1 hese rights could be upheld in the present proposal either bv the
employment of Arab capital, or the work might be carried out bv means of a
loan direct to Sheikh Isa. Should such fertilization within territorial waters
prove a financial success, the operations could be deeper waters
* ^

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.

Written in
English in Latin script
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'File A/5 Pearl fisheries of Persian Gulf' [‎22v] (44/62), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/3, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 February 2020]

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