Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Centre for Maritime Policy


Domestic development of the tuna industry has been a high priority for the small Island States of the Pacific over the past three decades. The extended maritime zones of jurisdiction allowed under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention heightened the aspirations of the Pacific Island States to derive greater benefits from their tuna resources. A number of strategies aimed at providing increased linkages to local economies through direct participation in shore-based development and harvesting of resources have been implemented. Using a regional and two national case studies, the study demonstrates that, despite previous failures and criticisms, many Pacific Island States continue to aspire to develop their domestic tuna industries. Therefore, the central questions of the study are: how can these aspirations be fulfilled and under what conditions?

The study adopts a broader understanding of the tuna industry to conceptualise the conditions under which it operates, its key influences and the interactions that drive the policy process. This approach provides new insights into domestication strategies and the policy context of tuna fisheries development. Sustainability of tuna resources and the changing context of international trade in tuna are identified as the principal external factors affecting tuna industry development. The implications of these factors on domestication of the tuna industry are considered by analysing the key provisions of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention and World Trade Organisation Agreements. Several challenges to domestication strategies and some possible opportunities are identified.

The study shows the changing character of domestication strategies and attitudes ranging from resource nationalism to possible strategic partnership arrangements. Through a review and analysis of past and present domestication initiatives, the thesis indicates a possible policy pathway for the future development of the tuna industry in the Pacific Islands. The study argues that the regional co-operative approach needs to be further strengthened in order to derive greater long-term sustainable benefits from their tuna resource. At the industry level, co-operative approaches and partnerships between domestic operators and foreign investors would provide the necessary capital, technology and skills for domestication.

This study explains the complementary roles between trade, fisheries management and industry, and argues that a more co-ordinated policy approach to tuna industry development needs to be followed. The study maps out the important critical emerging issues that will influence the future of tuna industry development policy in the Pacific Island States.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.