- Canadian foreign policy for marine fisheries: An alternate perspective
- Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d'études canadiennes
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 10, Number 1, February 1975
- pp. 10-24
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Canadian foreign policy for marine fisheries: an alternate perspective PETER Z. R. FINKLE* Introduction The government of Canada has assumed a cautious foreign policy towards marine fisheries which was expressed internationally in the negotiations at the first session of the Third Law of the Sea Conference (LOS Ill) and during continuing informal negotiations between the formal sessions. The Canadian position took shape in 1973 with the assertion of a policy which emerged from the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. This approach would have been coastal state management of species which were either sedentary or coastal in nature but would permit international management of more wide ranging species. 1 This Canadian position "did not preclude some foreign fishing in Canada's Continental Shelf waters but only under Canadian management authority...." 2 At the first session of LOS Ill it became apparent that the Canadian approach had attracted little support and the position was changed. The new Canadian position rather than being designed specifically for the Canadian situation is instead the adoption of the basic stance of the "group of 77" or the underdeveloped states. While we do not support their total position on the Law of the Sea, we have adopted the concept of the 200 mile Economic Zone. Since the Economic Zone is an attempt by developing countries to establish a single multi-purpose regime, it is generally assumed to subsume other types of claims.3 Unfortunately, Canada possesses a continental shelf which extends well beyond 200 miles in many areas. Since the * I gratefully acknowledge the extensive comments provided by Professor Don Mccrae of the Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia, Mr. Roland Dorsay of Ottawa and Professor Michael Wallack of the Department of Political Science, Memorial University. I am Indebted to Memorial University and Canada Council for generously providing funds for travel. The views expressed and errors are my own. 10 entire shelf is a rich fishery and may well be endowed with petroleum and other minerals, the Canadian adoption of the Economic Zone concept is at first inexplicable. The Canadian acceptance of the Economic Zone reflects the realities of the Conference in that the "group of 77" has adopted the concept along with the United States and other developed countries. The only choice for Canada, if she is to use the treaty which results from the conference to achieve acquiescence in some type of expansion of marine jurisdiction, is to get some treaty and try to make a special case to secure the shelf beyond 200 miles. The fact is Canada has committed herself to a marine policy which turns on the achievement of a treaty at LOS Ill. No diplomatic or naval preparations are in evidence to support an alternative policy if the conference fails to agree on a treaty.4 The government has, however, been less than candid in describing the difficulties inherent in treatymaking at this particular conference. In order for a treaty to emerge of benefit to Canada, it must not only be agreeable to two-thirds of the states but be acceptable to the major maritime nations as well. A treaty in which Japan, the Soviet Union, United States and others do not acquiesce, will not be of benefit to Canada. Sadly, for reasons which will be explored bel'Ow, there is little likelihood that a treaty will emerge from the next session of LOS Ill in the summer of 1975. The prospects of some agreement being reached beyond that date are uncertain. Meanwhile Canada's policy towards marine fisheries continues as before - dependence on a series of international organizations which have failed to prevent the depletion of the marine fisheries adjacent to our coasts.5 This essay will first explore whether a foreign policy towards marine fisheries which rests upon the Law of the Sea Conference is an appropriate response to the opportunities afforded by the world political and legal situation with reg·ard to marine problems. Secondly, the question will be posed whether Revue d'etudes canadiennes the present approach of reliance upon the acquiescence of long-distance fishing states, whether it is expressed through LOS Ill or some other diplomatic vehicle, can result in a...