Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security


This thesis analyzes the Principle of Compatibility (hereafter, Principle) within the world’s largest tuna fishery, which occurs in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The Principle is foundational within the international governance framework for highly migratory species such as tuna and billfish. However, the application of the Principle within a functioning RFMO is not well documented, and thus, this thesis fills a void in the academic literature.

This thesis investigates how the Principle was established within international fisheries law, serving to bridge the gap between management of HMS in waters under national jurisdiction and on the high seas. The analysis elucidates the rights and obligations afforded to coastal States with respect to national waters (including in the exclusive economic zone), the freedom enjoyed by all States to fish on the high seas, and the collective duty shared by all States to cooperate on the management of transboundary fish stocks.

The central focus of the analysis is the application of the Principle by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. The study employs an analytical tool that includes standards and criteria associated with the application of the Principle. Each of the WCPFC’s conservation and management measures associated with the catch of target species is assessed and scored for consistency with the standards.

The analysis demonstrates that the WCPFC is, at least for the most part, applying the Principle, with the highest rating concerning the management of tropical tuna stocks (skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna). Overall, however, the analysis also reveals that the WCPFC has inconsistently applied the Principle and its associated provisions. This thesis identifies the WCPFC’s harvest strategies approach as both an opportunity and a mechanism to promote a more consistent application of the Principle, which is important for the long-term conservation and management of the world’s largest tuna fishery.



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.