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James S. Campbell
Fisheries Consultant
New Zealand


There are many political, social and economic factors to be considered in regard to the development of fisheries in the Pacific Basin. Politically, the nations of the Pacific want to maintain their freedom and to preserve their democratic right to govern themselves. Socially, they want to enjoy a way of life and better standards of living suitable for their geographic locations.

To achieve and maintain their political and social independence they must enjoy a degree of economic independence. The economic exploitation of the living resources of the sea is of vital importance to the achievement of these aims for the many developing countries, islands and territories in the Pacific. The situation in the Pacific in regard to fisheries development is in marked contrast with Europe where all the nations concerned with the proposed 200 mile exclusive economic zones enjoy a very high degree of economic development in fisheries.

Understanding of the different political, social and economic needs of all States and territories is essential if there is to be tolerance, cooperation and ultimately coordination in fisheries resources utilization.

The major problem in achieving cooperation in fisheries matters in the Pacific Basin is created by the wide differences in available resources, technological and economic development, food needs and access to markets. There are at one end of the scale those nations like Japan, with a very large population, dependent for its food needs on supplies from abroad. In the case of fisheries products these are either caught or bought.

At the other end of the scale there are islands and territories surrounded by sea with some fish resources (very often of a migratory nature), which represent one of the very few available natural resources of economic importance.

Thus we have within the Pacific Basin nations of great size and islands and territories of minute size by comparison. We have sophisticated developed economies and in contrast have the simple subsistence economies of the smaller territories.

All of these countries with their wide differences of size, population natural resources, technological development, commercial competence, and living standards have in common a responsibility to conserve their fish resources while aiming at achieving optimum utilization of those resources.

There is thus a great need for understanding and tolerance together with an appreciation of the widely varying needs and aspirations of the different people. The proposal for 200 mile economic zones has brought into somewhat sharper focus the need for greater understanding and cooperation.


If we examine the single negotiating text which will form the basis for an international accord, we will see that the first requirements for coastal States are that they shall determine the allowable catch of the living resources in their exclusive economic zones and that they will ensure through proper conservation and management measures that the living resources are not endangered by over-exploitation.

They are further required to maintain or restore the populations of harvested species at levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors, including the economic needs of coastal fishing communities and the special requirements of developing countries.

These are sound principles and worthy of acceptance in the spirit in which they have been composed. The ability to discharge these responsibilities must vary in the Pacific because of the wide differences in the sovereign States mentioned earlier.


The loose classification of groups of nations into developing and developed nations can be somewhat misleading. Many nations which may be highly developed in other aspects of their economies may be developing countries in regard to fishing. These nations in my paper are included under the developing country label though not all of the points to be made will apply to them.

The following points are important for the States with developing fishing industries:

(1) There is an urgent need to assess the fishing resources. In this task many developing coastal States will need considerable technical and financial assistance from the developed nations.

(2) Management plans will need to be prepared after the total allowable catch of various species has been decided. In the preparation of these plans there will need to be a determination of fishing methods, mesh sizes, species and areas to be fished, size and types of vessels, quotas and other terms and conditions.

(3) Development plans, including the nomination of priorities and progressive economic stages of development, will have to be determined. These development plans must cover catching, processing, storage, transport and marketing. In all these aspects the developing coastal States will need assistance.

(4) The timetable for development will indicate the capacity of the coastal State to harvest the resources, often on a phasing-in basis. It will also indicate the extent of foreign fishing which may be permitted on a phasing-out basis.

(5) The development of local fisheries in many islands and territories may initially be of a subsistence nature, providing food for the local people, improving its handling and distribution. In these areas fishing development, even on this scale, is of economic importance.

(6) Where development of fishing resources leads to the production of more fish than the local people need, the export marketing of the fish is of serious economic consequence and may be a determining factor in the extent of development which can take place.

(7) Where the types of fish produced are in the luxury class such as tuna, prawns, lobster and so on, access to markets at profitable prices is not so difficult. Transport to markets, however, may seriously affect access and high freights may take a disproportionate amount of the realizations.

(8) Market access may be difficult for other fish species, especially if they are not commonly known in international markets. Coastal States will need considerable assistance in gaining access to markets.

(9) Any new fishery enterprise is faced today with much greater establishment, capital and operating costs, than those which apply in established fisheries. This places the developing nations at a competitive disadvantage against the established fishing nations, particularly those engaged in foreign fishing activities where the vessels have been purchased long before the current wave of inflation.

(10) This disparity in initial production costs must not be allowed to prevent the developing nations from utilizing their natural resources under the principles of the proposed Law of the Sea Agreement.

(11) The maintenance of economic freedom by developing coastal States requires that they receive help in all the areas mentioned above, freely and without mortgaging their future.

(12) In other words the assistance they receive in resource assessment, management plans, fisheries development and market access should be without entering into onerous obligations to grant fishing rights which may retard or restrict their own economic fishing development.

(13) The training needs of the developing nations are much greater than those of the developed nations. In the latter there is a large pool of technological competence available. In some Pacific nations and territories there are relatively few technically qualified people who could move into fishing development from other industries.


There are also many differences between the nations which could be classified as developed fishing nations. Some are highly developed in all aspects of fishing with a huge investment in fishing tonnage, great technological competence, and access to large domestic and export markets.

Other nations may have a partial development in fisheries. This is often linked to the more profitable high demand export fisheries such as tuna, lobster and prawns, but with much less development in trawling and other types of fishing.

Some of the economic factors which affect the developed fishing nations are:

(1) Some of the nations with large populations are dependent on fish as an important traditional source of animal protein.

(2) These nations have either caught or bought the fish with greater emphasis on catching the fish often in foreign waters which will now be within the 200 mile exclusive fishing zones of other nations.

(3) Already the impact of increased oil prices and the escalation of other costs, together with declining stocks of popular fish species through over-fishing, has made distant water fishing less profitable. Inevitably some economic hardship has been felt by distant water fishing nations.

(4) This form of economic hardship should be separated from any further economic constraints which may result from the contraction of areas where these nations can fish as the law of the sea provisions are implemented.

(5) The economic effects of reduced or limited access to fishing grounds, or reduced quotas where access continues, will be to make a considerable tonnage of fishing vessels redundant and cause some unemployment among their crews.

(6) The short term redeployment of these vessels on grounds which are still unprotected would be just a palliative for the foreign fishing nation and an irritation to the nation on whose fishing grounds the redeployment takes place.

(7) Falling supplies of certain types of fish will affect shore-side industries in processing, manufacturing, distribution and marketing.

(8) There may be an initial overall reduction in the world catch of the more popular species of fish as coastal States assume their full responsibilities for resource management.

(9) This may create more favourable market conditions for the currently less preferred fish species. They could fill the shortfall in the popular species which have suffered from over-fishing.

(10) Developed nations whose supplies of fish may be affected by the restrictions on their fishing activities, could supplement their reduced catches by buying more fish from other nations. This would help the development of those nations, particularly in the Pacific, whose development will be dependent upon access to markets.

(11) This would lessen the adverse economic effects on the manufacturing and marketing sections of the fishing industry in the distant water fishing nations.

(12) Any contraction of fishing effort must bring repercussions and hardship. This is a continuing process in the development of the fishing industry and the trade in fish.

(13) The 200 mile exclusive economic zone concept is the direct result of over-fishing in most of the world's fishing grounds. The changes caused by the implementation of the law of the sea principles merely anticipates what would have inevitably happened if the world's fishing capacity had continued to far exceed the available catch of the popular fish species.


The brief statement of the main economic factors affecting the developing and developed fishing nations in the Pacific illustrate a wide difference in interests, aims and aspirations.

Cooperation in fishing industry development will only be achieved on a harmonious and lasting basis if certain conditions apply. In my opinion the important points which must be considered are:

(1) Every nation must understand the forces and the pressures which are motivating the others.

(2) Many of the interests and motives are likely to be in conflict. Therefore, understanding and tolerance are essential ingredients for the achievement of genuine cooperation.

(3) Fishing industry development in the Pacific will be retarded if there is not a very high degree of cooperation.

(4) One of the more obvious areas of common interest where cooperation can develop is in the determination and assessment of resources.

(5) Already various international agencies are involved in coordinating research. There is no doubt that this coordinated research into the resources, particularly the migrating species, will be of benefit to every Pacific nation.

(6) The most important preliminary to cooperation in fisheries matters throughout the Pacific is the willing acceptance of the spirit and the principles behind the proposed Law of the Sea Agreement on the Living Resources.

(7) There is reluctance on the part of some nations to accept these principles until they are finally given international approval. However, they are so close to that approval, or at least to practical acceptance, that there would appear to be no valid reason why the spirit of the proposed agreement should not already be influencing our actions and our approach to Pacific Basin cooperation.

(8) The proposed obligations which can be placed on fishing nations granted fishing rights in exclusive economic zones are clearly set out in the single negotiating text.

(9) Immediate observance of these obligations would be the first step in achieving cooperation in the field of fisheries conservation and management which is given so much importance in the proposed agreement.

(10) Failure by foreign fishing nations to observe now such fundamental obligations as the provision of detailed catch data, the legal mesh sizes, and other normal conservation measures is not evidence of a cooperative spirit. Such failures now must influence coastal States in offering cooperation in the future and this is a negation of what is needed.

(11) Voluntary cooperation is true cooperation - complying with laws and regulations is merely observing the letter and not the spirit.

(12) Cooperation and development may take many forms, for example aid schemes, joint ventures, exchange of technology, training of operatives, market development.

(13) One common requirement should be that cooperation and development in the Pacific should be arranged so that the recipient of aid is not placed under an obligation to grant rights or concessions in exchange.

(14) My own opinion of real cooperation is that it is mutually rewarding provided the objectives and the principles of cooperation are observed.

(15) In the context of the Pacific nations with their very wide differences in economic development, there must be strong reservations about trading deals. I do not believe that trading long term fishing rights to a technologically developed nation by a very much under-developed nation for short term assistance in development is an example of real cooperation.

(16) Therefore, if we are to set the very elusive aim of achieving a truly cooperative spirit, there must be aid without obligations. Joint ventures must be mutually rewarding and absolutely fair to both sides. Technology exchanges and training of operators should be without tags.

(17) The provision of processing and packaging know-how is a normal thing between buyer and seller and will come naturally from improved trading relationships.

(18) Access to markets, however, is another issue. In the past, protective barriers have been erected in important fish markets against the very fish which the nations concerned are catching in the waters of other coastal States. Improved cooperation must surely extend to the opening up of markets in fish to the new fishing industries in developing countries. Improved trading must help the purchasing country which needs the fish because of supply adjustments, as well as assisting the coastal State which must develop its fishing industry.


It is not possible in the short space of thirty minutes to produce a blueprint for development of cooperation in fisheries in the Pacific. This warrants a much more serious study.

I have tried to highlight important factors which affect development and cooperation in order to stimulate thinking and discussion. There are compelling pressures on all sides and the more they are likely to conflict, the greater is the need for understanding, tolerance and cooperation.

The frank exchange of information and views is always a good starting point on the road to understanding and to cooperation.

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