34 Ocean & Coastal L. Memo 1 (1990)

handle is hein.journals/ocoaslme34 and id is 1 raw text is: 










Ocean and Coastal




                Law Memo


United,   States   Law   and   Policy  Regarding Wigl eas
         Driftnets In the North Pacific Ocean


   The  U.S. 1h beerw-enterned
about foreign fishing on the high
seas of the North Pacific Ocean
for several decades. Recently this
concern has focused on high seas
driftnet fleets. High seas driftnets
are an effective but nonselective
fishing method. Evidence of the
driftnet fleets' incidental catch of
North American  salmon and
steelhead has led U.S. fishermen
to seek restrictions on driftnet
fleets. Driftnets also kill a large
number  of marine mammals  and
sea birds, leading environmen-
talists to request stricter regula-
tions or a ban on driftnet fishing.

    Section I of this memo
examines the development of
high seas driftnet fishing in the
North Pacific. Section II traces
the evolution of U.S. policy
affecting Japan's high seas salmon
driftnet fleets as reflected in the
International Convention on
High Seas Fisheries of the North
Pacific Ocean. Section III
explores the impact that domestic
U.S. marine resource laws have
had on driftnet fishing. Finally,
Section IV briefly discusses the
Tarawa  Declaration and a United
Nations Resolution placing a


moratorium on high seas drift-
nets. The conclusion examines
the possible impacts of a high
seas driftnet moratorium on U.S.
commercial fishing interests.

I.  High  Seas Driftnet
    Fisheries in the North
    Pacific Ocean

    Consumer demands  for fish
and fish products increased
dramatically over the last few
decades. Prior to World War II,
long-range fishing was rather
limited by a lack of technology
and was generally unnecessary
because of an abundance of fish
relatively near shore. After, the
war, improved technology allowed
construction of large, efficient,
long-range fishing vessels.

    As traditional nearshore fish
stocks were depleted and more
coastal states claimed 200-mile
Exclusive Economic Zones
(EEZ),  these vessels began to
search for new fishing grounds
and harvest new species of fish.
For distant water fishing nations
such as Japan, the Republic of
Korea, and Taiwan, salmon


stocks in the North Pacific Ocean
were an atfraelive prospect. The
Final Environmental Impact
Statement and Economic  Impact
Analysis on the Incidental Take
of Dall's Porpoise in the
Japanese Salmon Fishery, U.S.
Department  of Commerce  (May
1987), provides a concise sum-
mary of the size of the various
nations' driftnet fleets, the mesh
size and length of their driftnets,
and international agreements
regulating driftnet fleets on the
high seas. Robert Eisenbud's
article, Problems and Prospects for
the Pelagic Drytnet, 12 B.C. Envt'1
L. Rev. 473 (1985), is also very
helpful in understanding the
development of the driftnet prob-
lem and possible regulatory solu-
tions to the problem.

A.  Development of draftnets as high
    seas commercial fishing gear

    High seas driftnets are an
adaptation of traditional gillnets.
Gillnets have a long history of
use in nearshore waters where
nations can effectively regulate
their mesh size, length, and
fishing seasons and areas.
Regulated nearshore gillnets are


Distributed by: Oregon State University Extension . Sea Grant Program   Corvallis  OR

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