The negotiation over the scope and application of a conservation measure is a negotiation over how the burden of conservation is distributed. The eventual decision will allocate the costs (conservation limits) and the benefits (fishing opportunities and future productivity improvements). Negotiations have to balance diverse interests and agree on how these interests are compromised.
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention requires parties to ensure that conservation and management measures do not result in transferring a disproportionate burden of conservation action on to developing States (Article 30), and prescribes various criteria to be considered when allocating catch or effort limits (Article 10). Determining the distribution of the conservation burden is a contentious issue as the Commission struggles to adequately respond to scientific advice to limit fishing effort and reduce fishing mortality for bigeye. Given current levels of overfishing and overcapacity, some or all Commission members must necessarily compromise their interests and carry some share of the conservation burden.
This paper analyses WCPFC catch data, annual reports and market data, and presents an approximate graph of Commission member interests and discusses the potential impact of proposed conservation and management measures on these interests. The paper concludes with a proposal for a transparent framework for determining the distribution of the conservation burden.
This paper was presented at the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Busan, Korea, August 2012.
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