11 Ocean L. Memo 1 (1978)

handle is hein.journals/ocoaslme11 and id is 1 raw text is: 





Ocean Resources Law Program * School of Law * University of Oregon * Eugene * OR 97403


Ocean Law Memo


Issue  11                                                            December   1978


The Law of the Sea Conference's

        New Salmon Provision


   When and if the UN Law of the Sea Conf-
erence--having convened eight times in
nearly five years--succeeds in adopting a
new ocean-law treaty, it will almost
certainly include the salmon article ap-
proved by the conference this year in
Geneva.  Some U.S. observers consider the
new provision to be an improvement over
its predecessor.  In practical effect,
however, the significance of the salmon
(or anadromous stocks) article is likely
to turn on events occurring outside the
LOS Conference.  Some background is in
order.

   Anadromous fish are those remarkable
species of aquatic life that are spawned
in freshwater streams, migrate to the open
ocean to fatten and then return to their
home streams to begin the cycle anew. In
the case of salmon, the oceanic migratory
patterns can cover thousands of miles and
take several years to complete. The outer-
most reach of the long ocean journey has
been traced to 1000 miles or more from the
coastal entry point for some salmon runs.

   For several years, the U.S. argued that
international law forbids other nations
from fishing salmon on the high seas where
the source nation is capable of fully
harvesting the yield. Naturally, those
countries who have engaged in fishing for
salmon on the high seas disputed this so-
called abstention principle. In fact,
international law, with its traditional
emphasis on freedom of fishing, never
clearly recognized the abstention rule
advocated by the U.S. and other source
*  Officially, the International Conven-
tion for the High Seas Fisheries of the
North Pacific Ocean.


nations.  The only real evidence of the
rule appeared in the International North
Pacific Fisheries Convention (INPFC)*
between the U.S., Canada, and Japan, which
was originally negotiated in 1952. The
principal effect of this international
agreement was to prohibit Japan from fish-
ing North American-source salmon in the
Pacific eastward of 1750 West longitude
(a North-South line that runs approxi-
mately through the middle of the Aleutian
Island chain).  As it turns out, however,
large numbers of Alaska-origin salmon
migrate into international waters west of
this line, mingle with Asian salmon out of
U.S.S.R. streams, and are captured there
by Japanese gill nets.

   The source-nations have continued in
the meantime to urge the abstention doc-
trine and the abolition of the high seas
salmon fishery.  These nations, especially
the U.S., reason that they have expended
large sums in protecting spawning areas
and fish runs and thus deserve first crack
at the resource, that high seas gill-net-
ting captures or kills the fish before
they attain their optimum size and is
therefore wasteful, and that indiscriminate
fishing on several stocks at once jeopar-
dizes rational management of individual
salmon runs.  The-Japanese fishery never-
theless continued.

    Early in the current Law of the Sea
 Conference it became clear that only nine
 nation@*had any direct concern with
 salmon, which are thus far limited to the
 northern hemisphere. By the end of the
 **  U.S., Canada, Japan, Norway, Denmark,
 Ireland, Britain, Iceland and U.S.S.R.


Distributed by: OSU Extension ServicEC-   Jqjti Ma    e A     ry Program, Corvallis, OR 97331

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