Treaty in trouble

Published: Monday 15 January 1996

-- MUCH hype and publicity later, the first global treaty geared to protect the depleting fish stocks around the world is already running into stumbling blocks, even before its formal ratification. Says a desperate Michael Sutton, fisheries campaign director for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) international, "Everyone was very optimistic in the summer. But now when it comes to putting money where their mouths are, the whole thing is beginning to break down."

Adds Satya Nandan, Fiji's United Nations (UN) ambassador who chaired the talks when the agreement came up for signing at the UN in New York on December 4, that the provisions for enforcing conservation were "stronger than I ever expected to achieve consensus on."

WWF members believe that the regional fisheries organisations were dragging their feet over the issue when it had already reached its crisis. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, a regional fisheries Organisation consisting of us, Japan, Canada and Spain as its members, voted down as "premature" a US resolution to set up a working group to examine how to implement the treaty.

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