Southern Bluefin tuna, known as minami maguro in Japan, faced a serious decline of stock due to overfishing. Australia, New Zealand, and Japan set voluntary catch quotas in 1985, and a tripartite stock management regime (Commission for Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna--CCSBT) was established in 1994. Quota allocation for Southern Bluefin tuna has been a source of diplomatic contention among the three countries, fuelled by major disagreements over the estimate of stock recovery. The three parties have failed to set annual quotas since 1997, although Australia and New Zealand have observed their last-agreed quotas. Japan's experimental fishing programs in 1998 and 1999 added 2000 tons to its last-agreed annual national catch quota of some 6000 tons, inviting criticism from the other two parties and subsequent international arbitration. After nearly three years of an impasse, the three parties in April 2001 agreed to launch a joint experimental fishing of Southern Bluefin tuna. The joint research will improve scientific understanding of the tuna stock and may open further path of cooperation in addressing the problem of tuna fishing by non-member countries.
Based on reviews of the minutes of CCSBT meetings and interviews with Japan's fishery officials, the presentation will challenge the stereotype that Japan is cheating the international regime, and instead explain the regime's shortcomings from three angles: availability and reliability of information, state-to-state bargaining, and domestic politics.
Yoichiro Sato holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Hawaii and is Assistant Professor of Regional Studies at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. He has previously taught at University of Auckland, New Zealand. His co-edited book with Akitoshi Miyashita, Japanese Foreign Policy in Asia and the Pacific: Domestic Interests, American pressure, and Regional Integration (Palgrave/St. Martin's), is scheduled to be published in November 2001. His articles and reviews have appeared in Asian Studies Review, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Japanese Studies, Japan Studies Review, New Zealand International Review, Pacific Affairs, Political Science, and several edited books.