Year

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS)

Abstract

This thesis analyses the failure of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to adopt conservation and management measures that are sufficient to ensure the conservation and long term sustainability of bigeye tuna. The analysis focuses on the inter-related fisheries for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye, and identifies critical challenges to the adoption of sufficient measures.

Analysis of these fisheries shows that overfishing of bigeye is occurring and that the migratory, multi-species and multi-gear characteristics of these fisheries create substantial management challenges. The thesis studies the framework for managing these fisheries, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This study determines that the Convention is generally consistent with modern principles and standards of international fisheries governance. Although the Convention is weakened by ambiguities in key provisions, the thesis argues that it is generally sufficient to provide an effective framework for the conservation and management of the Western and Central Pacific tuna fisheries. Despite this framework, the thesis demonstrates that the Commission has failed to adopt conservation and management measures that are sufficient to address overfishing of bigeye.

The thesis analyses the interests of the participants in the Western and Central Pacific tuna fisheries and demonstrates that the nature and influence of these interests are a key challenge to the negotiation of a measure that is sufficient to end overfishing of bigeye. The thesis argues that there is no clear interest among a dominant group of members to resolve current overfishing of bigeye. While some of these members have significant bigeye interests, they all have more significant skipjack interests that conflict with their lesser bigeye interests.

The thesis concludes that the Commission has failed to adopt a sufficient response to overfishing of bigeye due to the combination of the migratory, multi-species and multi-gear characteristics of the fishery, with the nature of the participants‟ interests and influences.

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