Brief Fact Summary. The argument of the fishermen whose vessels was seized by the U.S (P) officials was that international law exempted coastal fishermen from capture as prizes of war.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The argument of the fishermen whose vessels was seized by the U.S (P) officials was that international law exempted coastal fishermen from capture as prizes of war.
For this purpose, where there is no treaty, and no controlling executive or legislative act or judicial decision, resort must be had to the customs and usages of civilized nations; and, as evidence of these, to the works of jurists and commentators, not for the speculations of their authors concerning what the law ought to be, but for trustworthy evidence of what the law really is.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Are coastal fishing vessels with their cargoes and crews excluded from prizes of war?
Held. (Gray, J.). Yes. Coastal fishing vessels with their cargoes and crews are excluded from prizes of war. The doctrine that exempts coastal fishermen with their vessels and crews from capture as prizes of war has been known by the U.S. (P) from the time of the War of Independence and has been recognized explicitly by the French and British governments. It is an established rule of international law that coastal fishing vessels with their equipment and supplies, cargoes and crews, unarmed and honestly pursuing their peaceful calling of catching and bringing in fish are exempt from capture as prizes of war. Reversed.
Discussion. Chief Justice Fuller who had a dissenting opinion which was not published in this casebook argued that the captured vessels were of such a size and range as to not fall within the exemption. He further argued that the exemption in any case had not become a customary rule of international law, but was only an act of grace that had not been authorized by the President.