Whaling, Fishing and Conservation in the Pacific : International Law and Oceanic Legal Geography

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Embargoed until 2023-04-09
Copyright: Korosy, Zsofia
This thesis makes two principal contributions. First, it shows how the specificities of geography shape legal conceptions of conservation. It demonstrates that the ways that law conceives of conservation are contingent on the ways that geography operates on the motivations and actions of the actors who impel and make that law. Second, it explains how conservation and commerce, far from being dichotomous imperatives, are deeply entangled and have been so for a long time. These findings have implications for understanding how law contributes to present crises of global ecological systems. This is because they help expose the variable and contingent nature of the inputs that inform law’s responses to environmental concerns. The thesis draws out these contributions from a detailed episodic historical examination of the development of the international legal frameworks governing the conservation and exploitation of the whales and fish of the Pacific Ocean. It begins with the activities of British agents negotiating legal authority to pursue whales in the Pacific Ocean around the turn of the nineteenth century, and ends in the contemporary era with Japan’s withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission. It examines key events in the development of international legal instruments, principally the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which regulate the exploitation of marine living resources such as whales and fish. This examination illustrates how geography has shaped law’s conception of conservation in the Pacific Ocean. Drawing on disciplinary insights from geography, and particularly from the field of legal geography, it shows how this body of law is co-constituted with ideas of place in that ocean. Two key themes structure this episodic history: commerce, and science and technology. Both through and outside the state, commercial actors at various sites in the Pacific Ocean articulated self-interested conceptions of law regarding natural resource exploitation. Technological developments shaped the ways in which commercial actors exploited marine resources. Scientific study of these resources shaped both legal decision-making and commercial endeavours.
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Korosy, Zsofia
Morgan, Bronwen
Johns, Fleur
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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