Picking Up the Slackline: Can the United States and Japan Successfully Regulate Commercial Fishing of Bluefin Tuna Following Failed Intergovernmental Attempts?

Sarah E. Bauer

Since the 1960s, international organizations have attempted to protect Bluefin from overfishing. For various reasons, however, these attempts at intergovernmental regulation have failed spectacularly, leading environmental groups to call on individual nations to take up the mantle. Due to their joint status as the world’s largest consumers of Bluefin tuna, the United States and Japan are potentially the two nations most able to save the species from extinction. To determine whether these countries can implement effective regulations to make up for a lack of intergovernmental success, however, multiple elements must be considered. First, the very nature of the respective countries’ markets and the regulatory bodies they have in place are factors in determining whether these countries are candidates for successful governmental regulation. Second, their governments’ historical stances on commercial fishing regulation, both for the Bluefin and for other species, are perhaps the best marker for whether proper regulation, enforcement, and compliance can be expected from the nations called on to prevent Bluefin overfishing.

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