Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Management of International Tuna Fisheries

The FAO has released a technical paper on the international management of tuna fisheries. The technical paper was prepared by Robin Allen. The following is an extract from the paper which is accessible at http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1453e/i1453e00.pdf.

This paper reviews the current management of tuna fisheries by the five tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), focusing on the management of target species in the light of international standards and modern expectations for fisheries management. The key international standards used flow from the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea via the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development to the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.

Subsequent to those instruments, other expectations of best practices have been gathered into the expectation that RFMOs undergo performance reviews. The paper discusses the status of the stocks of the major species of tuna for each of five tuna RFMOs and examines the management response of each RFMO. According to the recommendations of the scientific bodies of the RFMOs, 14 of the major market species are in need of management action. Of those 14 species, the commissions of the RFMOs took action commensurate with the scientific advice in only five cases, and in three of the five cases, the actions only reflected other circumstances.

Conditions that provide incentives for participating governments to take (or not to take) cooperative actions to conserve resources are discussed. Apart from complying with global obligations and expectations, the major necessary condition for successful negotiation is that all participants in a negotiation should benefit from agreement to cooperate rather than from unrestrained competition. The fishery in the eastern Pacific Ocean is used as an example to show that this condition generally cannot be expected to be met. The use of rights-based management systems is discussed and these systems are advanced as a means to facilitate the addressing of shortcomings in the current conservation and management of tuna fisheries. The elimination of the need to compete for a share of the available catch allows individuals to optimize their investment in fishing effort to match their share of the catch, providing them with the incentive to avoid overcapacity. Secure, exclusive and long-term rights provide fishers with a collective interest in the conservation of the fisheries and the efficient use of the resources. Transferability of rights allows fishing opportunities to be used by those fishers who produce the greatest economic benefits and can provide a means of reaching an agreement among different sectors of the industry via a transfer of fishing rights.

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