6496 North-South Trade Versus Illegal and Unreported Fisheries: Should We Bother?

Sunday, February 19, 2012: 10:30 AM
Room 116-117 (VCC West Building)
Frederic Le Manach , University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Discrepancies between official and reconstructed statistics, which estimate the quantity and composition of fisheries catch with improved accuracy, have led to conflicting views of fisheries status worldwide.  Thus, the conclusions we draw from official statistics regarding stock sizes and the relative importance of various fisheries sectors (such as subsistence fisheries) are often flawed. As a result, economic and policy decisions based upon these unrealistic statistics can also be biased and flawed.  This disparity has a tremendous impact on international trade, since by virtue of Article 62 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, any coastal country without the capacity to fully exploit its fish stocks shall permit access to another country through negotiated agreements. Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine that poor coastal countries do not possess the means to accurately assess their domestic catch, and hence any potential surplus. Therefore, many developed countries with distant water fleets have negotiated one-sided fishing access agreements for decades. Furthermore, those countries that are unable to fully exploit their stocks generally do not possess the leverage to negotiate more fair agreements, and are left with no choice but to accept these inequitable agreements, in effect making the rich richer and the poor poorer.  This situation remains commonplace, which raises serious concerns about human rights, ethics, and the uneven distribution of wealth as they relate to existing relationships between developed and developing countries.  Furthermore, many coastal communities which are highly dependent on local fish for daily protein intake increasingly witness resulting declines in domestic catches and biodiversity, which impacts both their environment and quality of life.  This talk will focus on examples of ethical problems that frequently occur in North-South trade, such as the previously-mentioned unfair agreements, and will propose fair and realistic ways of mitigating the problem.