Under international law, nations have a duty to protect and conserve the high seas marine environment for the present and for the future. High seas fishing resources are sustainable resources held in trust and in common for the benefit of mankind. It has become a rule of customary international law that such resources may not be squandered so that a few may profit while ecosystems are destroyed and people go hungry. An effective, workable fisheries management regime requires that all participants fully, fairly and openly participate and cooperate. Current information indicates that this is still not happening. Cheating and illegal activity abound. In addition, no management scheme proposed to date shows any promise in being able to reduce significantly the enormous by-catch and waste associated with this method of fishing. A total ban on large-scale driftnet fishing is required and pirate driftnetters should be subject to universal jurisdiction.

Even if a total ban on large-scale, high seas driftnet fishing should be declared by the United Nations, implementation and enforcement remain a major problem. The driftnet fishing States have demonstrated time and time again that they are not willing to uphold their international agreements. They say one thing, and their nationals do another. High seas driftnetting, both legal and illegal, has been labeled as "piracy" by many States. It is time for the United Nations to declare that the large scale rape of the global commons by driftnetters is indeed piracy under international law.

In 1992 Japan declared that the unilateral conservation and management measures undertaken by its fishing industry met the conditions laid out in the 1989 United Nations Driftnet Resolution. However, international law professor Jon Van Dyke has noted, "These procedures can't be developed unilaterally, but only through cooperation. And no one nation can unilaterally determine that it has proper conservation approaches. This is something that must be done with the entire world community." (Van Dyke pers. comm. 1991)

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