Washington International Law Journal


Kristi Stanton


The Maori tribe of New Zealand and the tribes of western Washington are both subject to quota systems as a result of their treaty rights to fish. While New Zealand's quota system was legislatively imposed, western Washington's was judicially imposed. Nevertheless, the two quota systems are quite similar in that both permit approximately half the allowable catch of fish each year to go to the tribes. However, that amount does not adequately represent what the tribes are entitled to based on their treaty rights. Colonization, over-fishing, and resource deterioration have decreased the amount of fish available to the fishing population as a whole (including commercial fishermen), making it impossible for the tribes to rely on their traditional livelihood. While both tribes have been somewhat involved in co-management plans with their governments, these co-management plans are insufficient. New Zealand and the United States desperately need to adopt legislation setting forth more extensive co-management plans wherein the co-managers are required to cooperate with one another and are prohibited from making unilateral decisions. Such legislation would lead to an improved environment with more available fish to sustain the livelihoods of the tribes as well as that of the commercial fisherman.

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