Washington Law Review


Since all marine fisheries are either shared or shareable and constitute a renewable resource, broad policy problems of fishery use, both by "have" and "have not" fishing states, always have an international aspect and involve considerations of both development and conservation. In few areas of international law is the challenge to our reason and imagination so acute; and seldom do jurists so obviously require the services of the natural sciences. Yet fishery science, now engaging a small but growing number of specialists from biology and related disciplines, is still unable to provide an adequate factual basis for the sophisticated articulation of truly rational fishery policies. It may be many decades before sufficient reliable data has been gathered through scientific investigation of the world's marine resources to permit the formulation of general behavioral models for all marketable species in all commercially exploitable areas. On the other hand, the dynamics of particular fish populations have become fairly familiar over the years in certain closely studied areas, facilitating rough calculations of the effects of fishing on a resource. But even in highly developed fisheries where substantial exploitation has been conducted under scientific scrutiny, those hypotheses which have won critical acceptance from biologists and adoption by administrators usually rest on untested or untestable assumptions and minimal data regarding the complex relationships between biotic and abiotic factors in the shifting sea. Moreover, even the most rational program of conservation, inspired by sophisticated scientific studies, remains vulnerable to the different approach of economists; and even with a theoretical reconciliation between these disciplines, the management of human responses is possible only through the practice of political and diplomatic arts.

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