Several methods have been used to control the harvest of fish. These methods fall into two general categories, input controls and output controls. Input controls are concerned with the manner in which fishing is accomplished, and include such measures as limiting the fishing mortality by limiting the length of the fishing season or the fishing capacity in terms of numbers, sizes, and types of vessels and fishing gear used, closing areas, or taxing the fishermens right to fish. Output controls are concerned with results of fishing, and attempt to control the amounts and characteristics of the fish that are harvested. These include such measures as catch quotas, size limits on individual fish caught and or landed, and quotas on bycatch species. Nearly all the management measures for fisheries have been discussed in a special report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (1996), and reviewed by Gréboval and Munro (1999). Both of these works are referred to in the discussions below.
Most of the measures that have been developed to conserve marine resources have been fraught with problems. For example input controls, such as limiting the length of the fishing season or the number of fishing vessels generally results in fishermen adjusting their fishing practices, or the performance of their vessels, to improve efficiency in order to increase their share of the available catch. Likewise, output controls, such as global catch quotas, result in fishermen racing to take as large a share of the quota as they can before the quota is reached. The result is shorter and shorter seasons, which creates economic dislocation in the industry. Additionally, there is a biological down side to this racing as well. By cramming the allowable catch into a shorter and shorter time period, non-equilibrium fishing can result in overfishing of the population, because the allowable yield in most cases would have been determined prior to the setting of catch limits on the basis of a fishery that operated over an entire year. Also, different substocks might be vulnerable at different times of the year, and with a short season some substocks could be overfished and others underfished. These same problems could exist in fisheries in which the length of the fishing season is limited. Fishermen would race to get in as many fishing days as possible, leaving repairs and maintenance until the season was closed. The allowable number of fishing days would be expended in shorter and shorter time periods. Setting minimum size limits that effectively increase yield per recruit in tuna fisheries can be particularly difficult to achieve because most schools of tunas contain at least some small fish, and these nearly all die before they can be returned to the sea. The result has been a tendency for management to introduce additional regulations to control these inadequacies. In some fisheries the amount of regulation has become so complex that it is difficult for the fishermen to understand them, much less abide by them, and for the management agencies to enforce them. Setting a limit on the size of the fleet allowed to operate in a fishery would go a long way toward reducing the complexity of management. This is part of the reason, economic considerations notwithstanding, that nearly all of the regional tuna bodies, and also the industry in some tuna fisheries, have called for controls on the number of vessels allowed to operate in the worlds tuna fisheries. However, as has been made clear throughout this paper, the task of finding a workable mechanism to achieve effective fleet limitation is a daunting one. Some possible approaches are discussed in the following sections.
Obviously, the simplest option would be to do nothing about fleet capacity, but to continue to manage the tuna fisheries as they are now being managed. As just mentioned, this has entailed the application of a multitude of measures to control the catches of various tuna species. In the Atlantic the restrictions include limits on the total amounts of bluefin, swordfish, and albacore that can be harvested, restrictions on the use of FADs, closed areas and closed seasons for some species, minimum size limits for many species, including some imposed on one species to protect small fish of another species when the two are taken together, and vessel size limitations. In the eastern Pacific there is a catch quota on yellowfin tuna, restrictions on fishing on floating objects in certain time and area strata, closed areas for yellowfin fishing, controls on fishing tuna in association with marine mammals that involve mortality quotas, prohibitions against discarding bycatch, gear restrictions, reporting requirements, and a variety of other measures. If the status quo regarding fleet capacity is maintained, then it can be expected that there will be increasingly more complex restrictions implemented in efforts to protect tunas from overexploitaiton. Layer upon layer of regulations makes it difficult for fishermen to understand them, much less to comply with them. Under this death by a thousand cuts approach, the task of enforcement would be formidable, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any regional body or nation to enforce them effectively. Market forces would determine whether fleets grow or decline, and the rates of fleet growth would be adjusted by subsidies for new vessels to enter the fisheries dependent upon the interests of governments to support their fisheries and/or their boat-building industries. There will be ups and downs in production as a result of natural factors such as the occurrence of El Niño events, and these will be exacerbated by the tendency of too much fishing capacity, resulting in overexploitation of the resources. Examples of this were given earlier for the fishery in the EPO. Because maintaining the present situation will inevitably lead to overfishing, political chaos, and economic waste in the tuna fisheries of the world, all of the regional tuna bodies have expressed their desire to adopt measures to limit the size of tuna fleets fishing within their treaty waters. Therefore, the option of status quo, is not a viable one if nations are to exercise their responsibilities regarding the stewardship of the tuna resources for which they are responsible.
An approach frequently raised among nations during discussions to limit fleet capacity is the possibility of setting a moratorium on fleet growth, i.e., to allow no new vessels into the fishery, except to replace those lost through sinking or attrition due to old age. This of course works fine for those nations with well-established tuna fleets, but it would not address the problem of how nations without fleets could acquire them, or how nations with small fleets could expand them. It therefore seems likely that unless a moratorium was accompanied with some sort of scheme for handling new entrants into the fisheries, it would be doomed to failure. Nevertheless, there have been recent expressions of interest, mostly from the industry, to implement a moratorium on fleet growth. Most notably the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO) has called for a moratorium on the construction of purse-seine vessels. The members of that organization, all tuna purse-seine owners, have agreed that there is too much purse-seine capacity and that action should be taken very soon to stop the growth of the purse-seine fleet. Such a move would be beneficial in that it would allow time to develop a more comprehensive capacity limitation programme for purse-seine vessels before damage could be done to the tuna resources. A moratorium could also serve a useful purpose with respect to other gear types, such as baitboats and gill-nets, which take much smaller portions of the total tuna catch. Once a capacity limitation programme for purse seiners was placed into effect, a moratorium on baitboats and other vessel types could be implemented. This would allow time to collect the necessary information and data necessary to develop a comprehensive limitation programme for those other gear types, and would ensure that no detrimental effects caused by unrestricted fishing of these other gear types would occur.
The situation regarding excess longline fishing capacity became so severe that the fishing industry itself undertook measures to reduce the size of the international fleet of longliners that fish for tunas on a global basis. The details of these measures have been reviewed earlier in this report. Similarly, as mentioned earlier, there has been an initiative by the purse-seine vessel owners of the world to limit the amount of fishing effort generated by these vessels on a global scale, and to limit the number of purse seine vessels permitted to fish for tuna. Although this initiative was motivated in a major way by falling ex-vessel prices paid for tuna, the growing size of the world purse-seine fleet was also an important factor in the owners decisions to take action. In a meeting held in Manila, Philippines, on November 30-December 1, 2000, tuna purse-seine boat owners from many different nations cited the need to manage the global fishing fleet in order to prevent overfishing of the tuna stocks, the rise in the catches of skipjack, resulting in an oversupply of raw material, and creating large inventories of frozen skipjack and canned tuna, as reasons to take action to limit fishing activity. The boat owners agreed to undertake measures to reduce the amount of time their vessels spent fishing. For some fleets this entailed a halt to fishing for 30 days, within 60 days of the adjournment of the meeting, for others a reduction in fishing effort of 20% during the same period, and for still others, extending turnaround time between trips to several weeks. They also called for a moratorium on the building of new purse-seine vessels for fishing tuna, except to replace existing vessels, in which case the replacement vessel would be of an equivalent size to the retired vessel, and the retired vessel would be decommissioned. Finally, they agreed to create an international purse-seine owners organization to monitor the provisions of their agreement.
A second meeting of the purse seine organisation was held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on March 1-2, 2001. At this meeting the boat owners signed an agreement creating the WTPO, which would become effective upon ratification by the signatories to the agreement. The WTPO, has as its purposes the promotion of responsible and sustainable fishing in order to maintain a balance between the tuna resources and their exploitation in a rational and economic manner, the fostering of scientific research related to tuna purse seining and product development, and the development strategies to promote world demand for tuna. At the second meeting it was agreed to extend the provisions from the Manila meeting through June 2001, at which time a third meeting would be convened in Guayaquil to consider further action. Not all purse-seine vessel owners were represented at the meetings. The reasons that so many boat owners did not attend are not clear; perhaps in some cases it had to do with fears that their governments might view this as an attempt to influence prices, rather than an attempt to conserve the resources, and that they would be sanctioned for contravening domestic trade laws. In total, the fleets that were not in attendance represented nearly one-half of the worlds purse-seine fleet, and for any agreement to be successful their participation would be required. However, the fact that these initiatives to limit purse-seine fishing effort and capacity were taken by the attendees at the Guayaquil meeting, signifies a major step toward a general industry recognition that there is a problem of too much fishing capacity in the worlds tuna fleets. This initiative should be recognized by the governments with jurisdiction over the vessels in the agreement and be nurtured, encouraged, and developed. It is a major first step in developing a mind set within the tuna industry that controls on fleet capacity are needed. Obviously for an approach such as this to be successful participation by the owners of nearly all of the purse-seine vessels of the world would be necessary.
There is no international legal basis nor mandate for an industry coalition such as the WTPO to control the size and behavior of an international tuna fleet, but if a majority of the vessels were involved, it could be successful. There is, however, already a precedent as set by the longline industry. This precedent could help smooth the way for any action to be taken by the WTPO. These actions to be taken by the coalition and the boat owners would, of course, be voluntary. Each owner of a boat currently fishing, and also prospective new entrants, would hopefully view the actions taken to cap or reduce fleet size as beneficial to their own interests. The boat owners organization would have to accomplish a number of tasks. These would include, inter alia, determining the optimum fleet capacity and the development of methods to maintain the fleet at that size. If the fleet were to be reduced, mechanisms for doing that would be needed. Also, the important problem of how to handle new entrants would need resolution. How could this be done without assigning property rights to the resource? Obviously it would have to be done through cooperation among current and prospective fleet owners, and voluntary agreement to follow the recommendations of the organization. One approach would be for the organization to set up a funding scheme to buy and retire vessels in order to reach the optimum fleet size, and to buy and retire other vessels to allow the entry of new entrants that would qualify under a predetermined set of criteria. Although such a scheme would seem at first sight to be a far step from reality, it would, in fact, be quite similar to the scheme developed by the Organization for Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries (OPRTF), which was created by the tuna longline fishing industry. OPRTF has established a fund from industry and government sources with which to buy and retire excess longline capacity. Like OPRTF, a purse-seine owners organization would need to acquire funding to carryout its functions and to buy and retire vessels. Such funding could come from vessel assessments and contributions from governments.
It has already been demonstrated by the action taken in Manila and Guayaquil that there is a mind set in the international tuna industry to undertake such a scheme, and it could be implemented rather quickly. The timing for such an undertaking would seem to be propitious, because ex-vessel price being paid for tuna reached a low ebb as a result of high production of skipjack tuna. A fleet capacity cap or reduction might serve to bring supplies into balance with demand, in which case the long-term outlook for ex-vessel price would likely improve. If such a scheme were implemented, it would provide the opportunity, and the time, for governments to develop a more comprehensive programme, if one were needed.
At first glance the reaction to such a proposal would be that an industry organization would have no legal right to attempt to control fleet size, by denying a sovereign state the right to enter a fishery, or by capping or reducing the size of the fleet of a sovereign state. That reaction would be correct; they have no legal right to take such actions. However, they do have the right to undertake joint, voluntary action to protect the resource upon which their livelihood depends. Likewise, with respect to vessel assessments, there is nothing to prevent a group of boat owners from taxing themselves for the common good, in fact, it is done all the time. With respect to new entrants, obviously a boat owners organization cannot prevent a sovereign state from bringing new vessels into a fishery, but it can work with the prospective new boat owners to demonstrate that before investing in a new vessel, working within an organization dedicated to the well-being of the industry in general can improve its chances of insuring sound conservation of the resource, not to mention improving there opportunity to be economically successful.
Probably the most straightforward approach to setting capacity limitations would be for each of the regional tuna bodies to formulate and administer limitation programmes for its area of responsibility. The problems facing each of the bodies would be essentially the same, too many players, including those in the game, those wanting a bigger share of the game, and those not yet in the game, but wanting to get in.
The first step for the regional body would be to determine the optimum fleet capacity for its region. This would, as was shown earlier, depend heavily on scientific advice regarding the potential of the stock(s) to sustain catches at given levels of fishing effort, and would be adjusted according to the objectives of the regional body regarding the desired levels of harvest. For example the body might wish to harvest something less than the maximum that the combined stocks could sustain, particularly with regard to the problems associated with unexpectedly high skipjack production in recent years due to the expansion of FAD fishing. Ideally this would be done for each type of fishing gear, but attempting to do this for all fleets at the outset would be cumbersome and difficult to achieve. Because purse-seine vessels account for the overwhelming majority of the world catch of tuna, and the longline industry has already undertaken a programme to reduce its fishing capacity by 20%, a programme to control just purse seiners could prove effective, except possibly in the Atlantic Ocean. If the purse-seine programme was successful, it could be expanded to include other gear types, such as baitboats and gillnets, which take much smaller proportions of the total catch. Pending a comprehensive capacity limitation programme for baitboats and gillnets, like that for purse-seine vessels, a moratorium might be applied to the expansion of these latter vessels.
Once a target capacity was identified, the next step would be to find a way for the fleet to stay within that capacity, if it did not already exceed it, or a way to reduce the capacity if the fleet currently exceeded that target. One way that has been used in some fisheries to attempt to control fleet size has been to call upon nations to maintain their fleets at certain levels, or to not allow the fishing effort generated by their vessels to increase over certain designated levels. The objective of keeping fleet size or fishing effort at certain non-quantified levels is perhaps too subjective, and too open to interpretation by the parties so it would be very difficult to ensure compliance. In most instances such approaches have not worked very well.
A more straightforward approach would be to partition the target capacity among the players, including making provisions for prospective players. To do this, a set of criteria, with appropriate weighting factors that could be used to determine the allocations, would have to be identified. The reality of any discussion of these criteria is that the current size of a nations fleet being considered for limitation would weigh heavily, if for no other reason than that the nations with large fleets would be the most active participants in any negotiations. Coastal adjacency would also be an important consideration, not so much from the perspective of the legal rights of a coastal state to an entitled share of the resource that spends time in its EEZ, as from the practical fact that almost half of all the tuna taken on a global basis is taken within 200 miles of the coastline, which means that coastal states control access to a large share of the region in which tuna are fished. There are two important considerations that nations must evaluate in deciding on the importance of this criterion. First, tuna are highly migratory, and spend only part of their time within the coastal zone, the remainder being spent on the high seas. Even without access to the coastal zone, DWFNs could still harvest large quantities of tuna. In fact, some fleets never go into any coastal zones to fish, making all of their harvests on the high seas. Some tuna resources could be overexploited, even if fished only on the high seas. Second, a coastal state should not, on the average, expect that it could harvest the same amount of tuna when fishing both within its coastal zone and on the high seas, as it could if it fished only in its coastal zone. Likewise, historical catch statistics which reflect catches made in coastal zones are normally computed using combined data from vessels flying the flags of many nations operating in those coastal zones, and in most cases it should not be expected that the fleet of a coastal state could harvest the same amount within its zone unless its fleet was equivalent in size to the international fleet that operated in that coastal zone. If the coastal state did build such a fleet and confined its fishing to within its own EEZ, owing to the seasonal nature of the availability of the fish inhabiting the coastal waters, its fleet would be idle much of the time. Therefore, though coastal adjacency will be one of the criteria discussed, the weight it would be given in determining allocations would be mitigated by these aforementioned facts.
Before finalizing the partitioning of capacity among the players, the governments making up the regional body must deal with the issues of nations with small fleets wishing to increase them and nations without fleets wishing to acquire them. This is one of the fundamental issues that is at the core of many fishery management problems. It is an inescapable fact that many of the worlds fisheries resources are overexploited, and many more are fully exploited. Demand for fish continues to increase, and along with this increase is the opportunity for entrepreneurs to profit and nations to develop industries.
Fisheries cannot continue to expand, however, as there is a limit to what can be harvested. No longer can the ocean be considered a frontier, where the fish is there for the taking. Since most tuna fisheries are saturated, which means that is there is adequate fleet to take the allowable harvest, then it is necessary to develop a scheme to allow capacity to transfer among players, including new ones. There are a number of ways in which this problem can be approached.
One would be to allow no new entrants until some portion of the previously-assigned country allocations were returned to the governing body. For example a nation that formerly had a capacity quota might surrender some of its quota because the size of its fleet had become reduced. That unused quota could then be assigned to new entrants, based on a series of criteria determined by the management authority. However, experience shows that the rate at which nations exit the tuna fishery is not high as vessels are long-lived and expensive and owners seek to cover fixed costs and spread fixed costs over catches, so the opportunity for new entrants would be correspondingly low. This would engender great debate and controversy between those already in the fishery and those who want to enter it. It could be argued that even though the resource is highly migratory and in need of management to insure its conservation, the coastal state would have a sovereign right to exploit the resource while in its coastal waters, and therefore could not be excluded from the fishery. It would also be argued that under international law all states have a right to exploit these resources on the high seas. Given existing international law and the disposition of nations regarding sovereign rights to exclude completely states from a fishery, the result would be a failure to reach agreement. However, the world is becoming ever more crowded, and greater and greater demands are placed on its natural resources. Most tuna fisheries are fully exploited, and it should not be expected that the opportunity to fish for tuna would remain open to any state desiring to do so. Entry into tuna fisheries must be controlled if the resources are to be maintained at levels at or near AMSY. However, to provide the legal and political basis to institute effective controls, the concept of open access to the oceans resources, particularly highly-migratory tunas must be re-examined, and in the end some of the opportunities to harvest the oceans resources that have always been considered the right of everyone may need to be modified.
Another approach to solving the problem would be to set aside for new entrants a certain percentage of the capacity quota before allocating it to the parties with fleets currently operating in the fishery. For many fisheries this might require that fleet size be reduced substantially, since in most cases there is excess capacity. Again, a set of criteria would have to be determined for choosing which newly-entering nations or individuals would be assigned capacity quotas. A problem that immediately comes to mind regarding this scheme is what would happen after the reserve was fully utilized. Would allocations be reduced and an additional reserve established? Carried to the extreme, one could imagine a large number of states each with a very small fleet.
Still another approach for establishing a reserve for new entrants would be the introduction of a scheme that would allow the management authority to purchase a quota that had already been allocated and hold it in reserve for new entrants. In this case the management authority would establish a fund, which would be used to buyback capacity quotas that were assigned to individuals or nations, and those purchased capacity quotas would be allocated to new entrants, based on some predetermined set of criteria. As already pointed out, there has been a great deal of controversy over whether buyback schemes can be effective in resolving fisheries management issues. The FAO Working Group on Capacity (FAO, 1998) expressed some reservations about the use of buyback schemes, stating that initially they tend to reduce fishing capacity, but, in the long run, unless other provisions are made, they can be ineffective for controlling fishing mortality. Holland et al. (1999), concluded that the potential for buyback programmes to achieve their goals is limited. At a minimum, for buyback schemes to be effective there must be some guarantee that the purchased vessels are permanently removed from the fishery. Gréboval and Munro (1999) discuss examples of where buyback schemes have shown some promise, especially, when coupled with other measures, such as individual vessel quotas. Buyback schemes can also serve in other ways to ensure that capacity limitation programmes are effective. Changing efficiency is a persistent problem attributed to many input control measures. If such changes in efficiency are quantified and monitored, vessel buyback would offer a means of keeping fleet capacity in balance with the target catch, or target fishing mortality. There is however, a strong need to focus research efforts on the efficacy of buy-back schemes for managing tuna fisheries.
Using capacity limits as the sole mechanism for managing a fishery has certain shortcomings. As already pointed out, some of these shortcomings can be overcome by accounting for efficiency changes and adjusting capacity accordingly. Even if these changes could be accurately and timely measured, which is very difficult to do, there would still be a tendency for vessels to increase the fishing mortality, which would be possible if they increased the amount of time they fished during the year. These effects could be mitigated by coupling a catch quota with the capacity limitations. If the catch quota were global in nature, i.e., applying to all elements in the fishery on a first-come-first-served basis, the tendency would be for vessels to race to catch as much of the quota as possible before the season to unrestricted fishing ended. The adverse effect on stock productivity of stacking up fishing effort into a shorter period of time could be diminished somewhat by partitioning the year into a series of open and closed fishing periods. However, there would still be a tendency to race to catch more fish during these shorter periods of time.
Another alternative would be to assign quotas to individual nations (or to individual vessels). Partitioning the catch quota among nations would offer the opportunity for each nation to develop plans to manage its fishery within the framework of the vessel limits and catch quotas. However, many of the problems associated with global quotas would also exist for national quotas. The problems of partitioning catch quotas among nations would be very similar to those of partitioning capacity limits to nations. A series of criteria would need to be developed for making the allocations. Such catch allocations have been made in many of the worlds fisheries, and for tuna. ICCAT has allocated catches for bluefin and swordfish among nations. These allocations have been based mostly on current levels of catch made by the nations fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. Interestingly, ICCAT has not made specific provisions for new entries into the fishery, and de facto, has closed the fishery to new entrants and non-participating parties. For southern bluefin tuna the total allowable catch is partitioned among three nations, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, with long histories in the fishery. These three nations are the only members of the CCSBT. Although states other than these three harvest southern bluefin, they currently cannot be members of the organization, nor do they have catch allocations.
Although there have been several efforts to create country allocations of global catch quotas in the eastern Pacific, these have been unsuccessful. Joseph and Greenough (1978) suggested a partially-allocated quota system. In their scheme the total catch quota would be portioned into two parts, based on historical catches made within the EEZ and on the high seas. Each coastal state with a fishing fleet would be allocated a catch quota equivalent to the average total catch made by all vessels fishing within that coastal states EEZ. If a coastal state did not have a fishing fleet, its potential share would go into an unallocated pool. The unallocated quota would also include a share of the total quota computed on the basis of average catches taken on the high seas. Country catch allocations could be taken anywhere in the convention area of the regional tuna body, including the EEZs of any coastal state. Fleets of nations without quota allocations would be permitted to fish until the unallocated quota was filled. Coastal state fleets with quota allocations would fish until their quota was filled and then could continue to fish for unallocated quota, so long as that season was open. An interesting aspect of this scheme was the setting of a users fee or tax that applied to any vessel operating in the fishery. This tax would be used for several things, including as an incentive-adjusting mechanism, but most of it would be returned to coastal states in compensation for the right of all vessels to fish in their EEZs. Such a scheme, if coupled with capacity limits that were partitioned among participants, could provide an option for managing tuna fisheries.
Instead of assigning catch quotas to nations, they could be assigned to an individual producer or vessel. By coupling the individual catch quota with an individual capacity quota, many of the problems associated with national catch and capacity quotas would be eliminated. The tendency for vessels to race to take as much of the allowable quota as possible and the tendency to build increasingly more efficient vessels would be eliminated. If these individual quotas were transferable, more options to improve the fishery would become available. Buyback schemes could be used to reduce overall vessel capacity, and nations wishing to enter the fishery for the first time, or desiring to increase their fleets, could purchase quotas from those already in the fishery. With individual quotas, the decision to offer a vessel for buyback, or to buy a vessel, would be based solely on economic reasons, and would serve to maintain or improve the economic viability of the fishery, whereas if the rights belonged to nations the decisions might be based as much on political reasons as on economic reasons, and these would not necessarily improve the economic viability of the fishery. Davidse (1995), Squires, Kirkley and Tisdell (1995), Squires (1994), Grafton (1996), Squires et. al. (1998) and Gréboval and Munro (1999) discuss in some detail the advantages and disadvantages using individual quotas, and they generally conclude it is an important tool for controlling fishing capacity.
Of all the schemes for resolving the problems of tuna management, particularly the problem of excess fishing capacity, that have been discussed here and elsewhere, those that tend to incorporate some form of property rights which allows the recipient of those rights to trade or transfer them to other users seem to offer the greatest opportunity for success. These property rights could take two forms. One would be a right assigned to an individual which would allow a certain vessel capacity, which would in turn result in a probable level of harvest, or an individual catch quota. The other would be to assign the right to a nation or a party to that agreement to limit capacity. In the case of an individual property right, the decision to offer a vessel for buyback would be based on purely economic reasons, and would serve to maintain the economic viability of the fishery. If rights belonged to a nation, the decisions to offer up vessels would be based perhaps as much on social or political reasons as on economic reasons, and these would not necessarily improve the economics of the fishery, nor ensure the conservation of the species. Property rights have been assigned in some fisheries, but these have involved management programmes within a single nation, e.g., those of Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. Some of these programmes have been very successful, and others less so. Property rights have not heretofore been established for any multinational high-seas fishery, with the possible exception of the non-governmental programme described earlier for the longline fishery.
To establish property rights in an international fishery targeting highly-migratory species raises various complex issues regarding states rights and responsibilities regarding the exploitation and management of these resources. One of the most important of these is the question of whether regional bodies have the authority to assign property rights in an international fishery. None of the conventions of regional tuna bodies, which are currently in effect, include articles dealing with the issue of property rights. Likewise the Law of the Sea Convention does not touch on this issue with respect to fisheries. However, in the broadest sense, one might consider some of the articles in Part XI of that Convention, dealing with THE AREA, as offering some guidance and precedent for dealing with the issue of international fisheries bodies being empowered to assign property rights in tuna fisheries. Article 151 of the Convention mandates the AUTHORITY to take measures to promote the growth, efficiency, and stability of markets for the minerals derived from the AREA. The AUTHORITY is also empowered to issue production authorizations, i.e., a licence to exploit the resources of the AREA, or to deny a licence, as appropriate. Of course, the important difference in dealing with the issue of property rights for the resources of the AREA and property rights for tuna resources, is that in the former case the resources are sessile and confined to the areas beyond the jurisdiction of coastal states, while in the later case the resources inhabit areas of the high seas, as well as the EEZs. As was discussed above, just how the matter of coastal states without fleets, but wishing to obtain them, will be dealt with regarding property rights will be a critical matter to resolve. The actual assignment of transferable property rights may offer such a solution, as was discussed above. If the regional tuna bodies are expected to deal with the problems of excess fishing capacity, then they will need to be empowered with the authority to deal with economic and social issues related to the fisheries for which they are responsible, including the authority to assume and assign property rights in the fisheries.