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Historical Records of New Zealand

Minute of The Board of Trade

Minute of The Board of Trade.

At the Council Chamber, Whitehall, the 26th of December, 1797.

Read—A memorial of the merchant-adventurers in the southern whale-fishery, stating that it is absolutely necessary that the vessels employed on the southern whale-fishery should put into some ports or islands in the Pacific Ocean for the purpose of refreshing their crews, which they are prevented from doing by the war between Great Britain and Spain; representing, at the same time, that they have strong reason to suppose that the spermaceti whale and seal fishery might be carried on to great advantage at Kerguelen’s Land, in the Indian Ocean, off the page 217 coasts of New Holland, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, New Zealand, the Phillipine Islands, and Formosa, but that by the Act of Parliament of the 35th of his present Majesty, cap. 92, sec. 19,* such vessels are restrained from proceeding further north than the Equator and further east than 51 degrees of east longitude, and consequently from carrying on the fishery at and near the places above mentioned, where they might procure the refreshments they stand in need of, and consequently escape the risque of capture; and therefore praying that the restriction above mentioned may be taken off, and that a Bill may be immediately brought into Parliament for that purpose, or that such relief may be given them as to the wisdom of Parliament shall seem fit.

Ordered—That a copy of the said memorial be transmitted to William Ramsay, Esquire, for the consideration of the Court of Directors of the United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies, with a letter expressing the hope of the Lords of this Committee that the Court of Directors will not be averse to a compliance with the prayer of the memorialists for the benefit of the southern whale-fishery (which is become a very important branch of commerce), as far as they conceive may be done consistently with the security of their commercial rights; and desiring that the Court of Directors will report, with all convenient expedition, their opinion on the subject of the said memorial, suggesting, at the same time, in case of a compliance with the request of the memorialists, such regulations and restrictions as may be thought necessary for preventing the ships engaged in the southern whale-fishery from interfering with any of the essential rights to which the East India Company is entitled under its charter.

* “An Act for further encouraging and regulating the Southern Whale Fisheries,“ passed 22nd June, 1795.—See Raithby’s Statutes at Large, vol. ix, p. 747.