JANUARY - APRIL 2005


PROJECTS

The syllabus mentions also a larger group presentation for US students combining law students with environmental science students.  You will look at issues involving the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (http://www.ccsbt.org/), a regional governance organization for international fishing within the meaning of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and the related 1995 Straddling Migratory Stocks Agreement.  The CCSBT is responsible for Southern Bluefin Tuna fishing in the Pacific Ocean surrounding Southeast Asia, including marine areas around Indonesia.  The CCSBT was formed by Japan, Australia and New Zealand in the early 1990s.  Thus, its original membership omitted major fishing nations in these waters such as Korea and Taiwan as well as Indonesia as a newer fishing nation.  At present, Indonesia is apparently involved in intensive discussions with the CCSBT precisely because it appears that the catch from that fishery may exceed sustainable levels.

 

 

The problem is twofold.  First, the fishery cannot be realistically managed unless all parties landing the fish provide reliable statistical information.  SBT fishing stocks have already crashed once in the Pacific Ocean, and the problem is that no country, including Indonesia, will profit if it crashes again due to over-fishing.  Second, there are problems beyond fisheries management with non-membership in the CCSBT.  As the responsible international regional organization for managing the fishery, CCSBT sets fishing quotas.  The original quotas were established for members, so that non-members normally can fish but potentially have trouble selling their catch internationally (because Japan as the chief SBT market could determine legally to exclude it under trade law, see Problem Two materials).  Thus, Indonesia might be able to consume domestically the tuna it caught outside any quotas, but faces potential export restrictions lawful in WTO terms if it wished to sell its catch in Japan as the chief market.  International environmental and international trade law overlap in this area, and their proper relationship is a subject of some dispute in the on-going WTO negotiation in the Doha trade round.

 

 

The abiding problem is that the creation of any new SBT quotas must deal with the limitation in scientific terms that the total catch is limited by principles applicable to renewable living resources (here SBT breeding stock and the possibility of stocks crashing if over-fishing occurs).  Thus, SBT stock levels and scientific principles set limits on the distribution of rights sustainably to exploit the resource.  At the scientific level uncertainty is a problem, but there may be pressure to overestimate total allowable catch in order to satisfy competing  country demands for quotas.  On the other hand, if a conservative scientific estimate is employed that raises the problem that new members may only receive a quota allocation if existing members' quota allocations are reduced.  Thus, there is almost inevitably a tug of war between countries with existing quotas and new entrant countries seeking quotas.  What should determine distribution of the economic benefit of fisheries quotas, history or something else?  In practice the new entrants are often developing countries seeking benefits from fisheries traditionally controlled by developed countries.

 

 

You should analyze in mixed groups the two sides of the prospective negotiation, that of the existing CCSBT members as opposed to Indonesia as a country seeking to establish a new quota.   The problem is a mixed one of science and law, since the environmental science students' conclusion on technical modeling questions concerning SBT stocks will presumably set the framework for a political and legal negotiation against the trade law background that Indonesia presumably can only achieve the full economic benefit it seeks if it can sell any prospective SBT catch in international commerce (in Japan, in practical terms).  The negotiation itself will look different depending upon whether the total allowable catch is high enough to distribute economic benefits in the form of  a new quota to Indonesia without reducing existing CCSBT member quotas versus a lower total allowable catch requiring the distribution of economic pain in the form of reducing existing SBT quotas.  The problem is that, despite uncertainty in a scientific sense affecting total allowable catch, some scientific determination must be made which then shapes the political and economic negotiations.  The CCSBT website has the basic information you need for the exercise.  Each group should prepare its answer in the form of a short 2-3 page summary of results for eventual class distribution via e-mail plus a powerpoint presentation for a classroom discussion involving US and Indonesian participants.

 

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