The Commission of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western Pacific Ocean, or the WCPFC, manages fish stocks of significant financial and ecological value across a vast area of the Pacific Ocean. WCPFC members, however, have disagreed sharply over management measures for tuna, sharks, and other species. These disagreements have arisen due to ambiguous text in the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western Pacific Ocean regarding the roles of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies and providers of scientific advice. Some members argue that only the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean, or the ISC, and the Northern Committee may provide scientific and management advice for those fish stocks occurring north of twenty degrees north latitude. Other members, however, believe that the Convention’s Scientific Committee has the ultimate responsibility to provide advice to the WCPFC for all stocks. These institutional disagreements are having profound, adverse impacts on species. This Article concludes that the Convention grants the Scientific Committee the authority to review the assessments and other work of the providers of scientific information and make recommendations to the Commission concerning conservation and management of all stocks in the Convention Area. This gives the Scientific Committee the authority and the duty to review the ISC’s scientific advice and recommendations deriving from it. To clarify any ambiguity, this Article recommends that the WCPFC revise the rules of procedure of the Northern Committee, the memorandum of understanding between the WCPFC and the ISC, and the WCPFC’s resolution on best available science.
Chris Wold, Emi Kondo & Erika Hamilton,
Bringing Southern Bluefin Tuna Back from the Brink: Enhancing Understanding of the Scientific Process in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.