Cover Image
close this bookCERES No. 119 (FAO Ceres, 1987, 50 p.)
close this folderOther articles
View the documentConfronting environmental degradation: a problem without borders
View the documentManaging extended fisheries: a decade's modest progress
View the documentThe last decade for pesticides?

Confronting environmental degradation: a problem without borders

by Fernando Ortiz Monasterio

Nature does not recognize national borders and political ideologies. Capitalism and socialism do not exist for ecosystems, and there are no such things as development and underdevelopment. All there is, is the effect on the environment of these things.

Pressures on the environment have increased gradually, in relation to the predominant style of development adopted all over the globe, with no thought given to differing socio-cultural or ecological factors. Population growth, unequal access to resources, policies for resource use, and modern technology have all served to increase pressures and aggravate environmental problems.

In international border zones, urban sprawl has been accompanied by serious damage to the environment, the result of development. Solid waste is not processed sufficiently, contaminated sewage is pumped into surface and underground water supplies, the urban air becomes more and more polluted, and noise goes well beyond tolerable levels.

This article concerns a unique border zone, the region extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, 100 kilometres to the north and to the south of the US-Mexican border (see map). It is the only place in the world where a developed

country shares ecosystems with a developing country. It manifests, therefore, a large variety of the problems and conflicts which arise in both developed and developing countries.

This region is mostly arid. The average rainfall there is less than 300 mm a year, and it contains some of the dryest land in North America.

The predominant soil types in the region are calcic regosol of low or medium fertility and eutric regosol. There is also xerosol, which is easily worked but is subject to erosion. Besides these, there is some lithosol which is of no use for agriculture, and a small amount of finely textured clay vertisol, which is suitable for growing a large variety of crops.

Surface water is scarce. What there is, is used for agriculture, domestic consumption, and industry. The fact that there are very few streams that flow all the year round is immaterial. The Colorado River in the west and the Rio Bravo in the south provide the bulk of the water available for irrigation and development. Development has always relied heavily on underground water reserves, and this is becoming more and more the rule.

A million people cross the border daily. The disparity between the US side, with its high entry level, employment opportunities, services, and infrastructures, contrasts all too sharply with the poverty-stricken Mexican side, to which comparatively few people cross, and which suffers from high unemployment and a lack of health care, education, and other services. But although migration to the Mexican side of the border may be lower than that to the US side, internal migration to this part of Mexico is high, as it attracts Mexicans bound for the north.

Population figures for the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali are a good example. In 1921 they had 1000 and 7 000 inhabitants respectively. In 1940 the populations stood at 17 000 and 19000. By 1970 they were both among Mexico's biggest cities, and by 1980 had over half a million inhabitants.

Similarly, migration toward the US Sunbelt has brought about a rapid growth of human settlements in the southern US.

The region, therefore, is growing as much because of migration from the south as from the north. Recent studies have examined the complex links between population and environment - the appropriation of nature by society. Increased population, or even greater population density, cannot be blamed for increased environmental decay. The expansion in population and production in northern Mexico, however, has given rise to a deterioration in quality of produce, in the environment, and in living standards.

Environmental decay on the border. The development process of the border region between Mexico and the United States may be seen in terms of a huge socio-economic expansion in a fragile ecosystem in which both countries are involved. Bad management of the process has resulted in acute problems at both the local and the international level.

The survival of border ecosystems, with their shared energy sources, water, wind, fauna, pollution, and human population, depends on the coordination of the bordering countries' policies.

It is interesting to note that high living standards, strict controls on environmental pollution, recycling of renewable resources, and other such factors have taken large steps forward in industrialized countries, while creation of more pollution and less efficient exploitation of resources is more common in developing nations. These diverging policy lines are extremely visible in border regions.

The environmental problems found in the border region between Mexico and the United States cover an enormous range - from desertification caused by the cutting of trees for cocking purposes to industrial pollution caused by radioactive byproducts from nuclear bomb construction.

The following list is not exhaustive, but gives a general idea of the type of problems faced by the environment:

1) Water pollution. The scarcity of surface water has meant that water outflow from industry and human settlements has polluted surface water and underground reserves alike. The Rio Bravo washes banks in both Mexico and the United States; it is interesting to note which country suffers most from pollution.

2) Air pollution. The "grey triangle" is in this region. Three huge copper plants, two in Mexico and one in the United States, turn out sulphur dioxide at a rate of 3 300 tons a day. As 6 600 tons of undiluted sulphuric acid are produced in the process, the plants represent the largest sources of acid rain in the Americas. In addition, transport and industry, centred in urban areas, are large sources of pollution.

3) Soil pollution. Thousands of tons of urban and industrial waste are dumped into the soil each day, and they are building up in the ecosystem.

4) Radiation. Since the first atomic bombs were detonated in New Mexico, in the United States, the border strip has constantly been subjected to radiation. The first permanent dump for the by-products of nuclear weapon production is under construction at present; 55 000 cubic metres of toxic matter will be buried about a kilometre beneath the earth. Moreover, the region, which is heavily used by the US military, contains an unknown number of atomic

missiles and would be one of the main targets for warheads of enemies of the United States in the event of a nuclear conflict.

5) Extinction of flora and fauna. Situated to the north of the Tropic of Cancer, this vast region is home to a great variety of animal and plant species. Development has been merciless to nature, and the bison is a case in point.

In 1700, 60 million of these animals, Bison bison, roamed the plains of what is now the southern US and the northern part of the central Mexican plateau. The indigenous inhabitants hunted them for thousands of years without reducing their numbers or threatening them with extinction. Then the Europeans arrived, and by 1900, only a few dozen animals remained. As is obvious with a century's hindsight, lack of respect for nature was to blame. These hunters killed for the sake of killing, often taking only the tongue of their victims to make exotic dishes to satisfy bizarre tastes.

6) Agri-chemical pollution. The well-developed agriculture of the border region is intensive in capital, irrigation, technology, machinery, and agri-chemical products. DDT provides an interesting example of the difference in approach of the two countries to development.

The use of this pesticide has been prohibited in the US since 1972, so all the DDT produced there is exported, some of it going to Mexico. Because of advanced international integration, DDT returns to the United States in three ways: in agricultural produce exported from Mexico to the US; through the environment, especially in water; and, ironically, in barrels of DDT relabeled in Mexico and shipped straight back to the US under other names. Concentration of DDT in milk, water, and the environment in general has constantly increased, despite the 15-year ban.

The uncontrolled use of agrichemicals in Mexicali has poisoned surface and maybe underground water supplies. The Rio Bravo has become a drainage channel for the agri-chemical products of both countries, and many other examples can be found of water pollution caused by the use of agri-chemicals in the two countries.

7) The imbalance between society and nature. Perhaps the most significant effect of the development process is the polarization of a wealthy minority involved in industry, farming, trade, and speculation, and the falling real wages and standard of living of the majority on both sides of the border.

The exploitation by both countries of their shared natural resources has given rise to a corresponding exploitation of the majority by the minority. Although, on a global scale, the region is not particularly poor, the exploitation of resources and lower income groups seems to be leading more and more to the worst form of environmental decay: poverty.

Development in the border region between the United States and Mexico provides a good example of global interdependence of nations. Despite imbalances, the two countries have become dependent on each other to a certain extent.

Environmental diplomacy has achieved significant results in the region. An agreement was signed recently, for example, forbidding cross-border movements of dangerous waste (see box), while an accord on the quality and quantity of shared water resources has been in effect since 1944. With the passage of time, it has become obvious that negotiation is better for both nations than unilateral measures.

An analysis of the present situation and forecasts of future trends shows clearly that development in the region brings the following results:

- an increase in production
- a growth in the population
- an increase in population density
- a spread of urban areas
- an increase in the number of makeshift human settlements
- a fall in standards of accommodation, health care, and sanitation in areas where the immigration rate is low
- an increase in demand for limited natural resources
- an ever greater effect on the environment
- an increase in social problems.

If present trends continue, the prospects for the border region between now and the year 2000 are far from positive. It is essential that harmful programmes affecting these trends be reviewed and renewed. The following measures are suggested for a new approach to the urban phenomenon:

- use of alternative energy sources - water recycling
- private construction of accommodation and services
- awareness of over-use of resources which are already scarce
- reintroduction of traditional technologies and values
- encouragement of popular participation
- information and education on ecodevelopment
- recognition of potential new styles of development.

Prospects for the future of the border region are bleak. This fact must be recognized and acted upon to bring a new environmental order and a rise in living standards on both sides of the border.

Managing extended fisheries: a decade's modest progress

by Gerald Moore and Gunnar Saetersdal

The extension of fisheries jurisdiction to 200 miles, undertaken mostly during the latter part of the 1970s, raised great expectations for improved resource management and a more equitable sharing of the oceans' wealth between developed and developing nations. This article examines the extent to which the expectations of improved resource management have been fulfilled. A subsequent article will consider questions of the transfer of resource wealth. Since most of the changes cannot be expected to take full effect in the short term or even in the medium term, any assessment, barely seven or eight years after the event, may be premature and certainly will be incomplete. Nevertheless, it may be possible at this time to discern certain trends.

The extension of national jurisdiction followed a 20-year period when the world fish catch more than tripled as a result of the rapid expansion of industrial fisheries, rising from about 20 million tons in 1950 to about 65 million tons in 1970. The technological basis of this remarkable development included the increased use of synthetic fibres and the introduction of large stern trawlers and high-powered deck machinery. The expansion initially centred on highly productive areas of the North Pacific and North Atlantic. By 1970 it had spread throughout these regions into areas of rich coastal upwelling in the Eastern Central Pacific and Eastern Central Atlantic.

In most of these regions, concern for the resource base had accompanied the expansion of fisheries almost from the beginning. Many of the international regional fisheries bodies established to manage and conserve these resources were unable to perform adequately in part because fisheries science lagged behind the rapid technological developments in the industry. By the early 1970s, however, new advances made it apparent that the main obstacle to efficient management lay more in the design of the international management machinery and the premise underlying that design, namely, open access. In the area served by the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), for example, an evaluation of major stocks carried out in 1975-76 classified two stocks as underexploited, one as fully exploited, 28 as overexploited, and two as depleted. Much the same situation of excessive uncontrolled effort occurred in the Northwest Atlantic following the expansion of long-distance fleets operating in the area.

The combined effect of such pressure was a sharp decline in the annual growth rate of the total world catch - from an average of seven per cent prior to 1970 to an average between one and two per cent in succeeding years. The open access nature of existing fisheries regimes was identified as a major obstacle to achieving improved management and, from this, the extension of national coastal state fisheries jurisdiction was perceived as the key to solving, or at least alleviating, the problem.

Freedom and flexibility. The new regime created by the Law of the Sea Convention has gone a long way toward resolving, at the international level, the problem of open access. Most of the world's conventional fish resources fall under the new 200-mile jurisdiction of coastal states which now hold primary responsibility for their management. However, the Law of the Sea Convention provides few tangible guidelines for the management objectives and standards to be adopted by the coastal states in discharging these new responsibilities. Essentially, coastal states are left with a great deal of freedom and flexibility in fashioning their own national objectives and in fixing the level of utilization which they consider to be optimum.

The question thus arises as to whether this flexibility has resulted in any improved standards or objectives in regions of high fishing pressure after the extension of fisheries jurisdiction. Precise answers are possible only in a few regions with developed fisheries. In the Northeast Atlantic, for example, there is no evidence of any such shift, with the exception of Iceland, which from an early stage pursued a policy of rebuilding its exclusive stocks to a safer and more productive level. In the Northwest Atlantic, there is some evidence of improvement with the adaption of biological management criteria, approximating maximum economic yield, in a programme of stock recovery.

In the developing world, such precise assessment is not so easy. For many developing countries thinking in terms of fisheries management, as opposed to fisheries administration, is relatively new. Nonetheless, there is now widespread evidence in many developing countries of growing concern with fisheries management, even if there is as yet little evidence that precise biological standards for fisheries management have been adopted. But it is perhaps misleading to apply the same yardstick as for North Atlantic fisheries. In developing regions, with their dearth of fisheries scientists and enforcement staff, reliance on catch quotas, historically the basis of the North Atlantic management approach, is less attractive. For the most part, developing countries seem to be turning to more easily administered, if less precise, management systems, which have been able to take advantage of the shift to single state jurisdiction. Morocco and Malaysia, as examples, have recently adopted legislation requiring the formulation of fisheries management plans that would specify management objectives and standards and provide for licence limitation schemes. A number of other countries have passed similar laws. One common trend in these new systems is the increasing use of standards and objectives that, at least in theory, take into account economic as well as biological factors.

The practical impact of changes in management regimes on particular fisheries is difficult to assess, given the great natural variability of many marine fish stocks, but some broad trends may be detected. In the Northeast Atlantic an analysis carried out on more than 20 fish stocks in 1980-82, about five years after fisheries jurisdictions were extended, indicated that improvements in stock conditions were the exception rather than the rule. However, another analysis two to three years later contained more positive indications. Six important stocks were classified as recovering after periods of overfishing or depletion. At least four cases involving pelagic stocks could be directly attributed to drastic management action: complete cessation of fishing in three instances and the exclusion of foreign fishing in the fourth. Indications of recovery in two demersal stocks, Barents Sea cod and haddock, appears to have been the result of high natural recruitment, but this in turn may have been related to better maintenance of spawning stocks. It is expected that the improvements in exploitation patterns introduced under the present regime will be sufficient to bring about proper stock recoveries.

So far as other stocks in the Northeast Atlantic are concerned, there is, if anything, a tendency toward increased fishing pressure. North Sea demersal stocks are new exploited far above the maximum sustainable yield level, and the total catch of the recovering North Sea herring has been, for bath 1985 and 1986, twice the recommended total allowable catch, a result of the conflict over the sharing proportions.

No improvement. In general, one is forced to conclude that although there are some cases of successful management attributable to the simpler, more efficient regime of extended fisheries jurisdiction, there has been no generalized improvement in the state of exploitation of the resources in the Northeast Atlantic. The total catch during the 1978-83 period has fluctuated without discernible trend between 11 and 12 million tons. This lack of substantial progress is perhaps not surprising since about 80 per cent of the catch in this area comes from shared stocks still subject to international management. The prolonged period needed to develop an agreed fisheries policy for EEC countries has also contributed to the present situation.

The picture in the Northwest Atlantic is different.0 In the face of declining catch rates and stocks during the 1970s, a restrictive management policy was adopted as early as 1976-77 based on attaining maximum economic yield rather than maximum sustainable yield. With few exceptions Canada has maintained that policy and by 1982-83 had succeeded in building up stocks, particularly groundfish stocks, to the high levels of the 1960s. In contrast, cod stocks outside the 200 mile zone fished by foreign fleets and not subject to restrictive coastal state management have remained at a low level of abundance. The success of the resource restoration programme in the Northwest Atlantic can be attributed, at least in part, to a relatively simple management situation with a predominance of exclusive stocks and the fact that the principal coastal state, Canada, adopted a restrictive management policy at an early stage and adhered to it consistently. Whether Canada has made the best use in economic terms of the opportunities to improve and strengthen its fishing industry in the region is another question.

Like the Northeast Atlantic, the Northeast Pacific is characterized highly industrialized fisheries exploited by large distant water fleets. During the open access regime, however, there were fewer international fishery conflicts and those that did occur were less complicated than in the North Atlantic. Under the regime of extended fisheries jurisdiction, the dominant objective of the major coastal state, the United States, has been to reduce and control foreign fishing within the US zone. Management performance has on the whole been greatly improved for both international and national fisheries. Achievements include agreements on high seas fishing for salmon, expansion of joint management with Canada for halibut, control over the activities of foreign groundfish fleets, and the development of a considerable scale of joint venture fishing with foreign processing vessels. Some of these achievements have resulted in an improved state of resources, as in the case of halibut, where controls over foreign trawl fishing reduced the bycatch of juvenile and young fish. For the domestic ground fisheries as a whole, however, it seems doubtful whether the management system as it operates in practice is effective in maintaining the harvest at a sustained level.1 Stocks of king crab, snow crab, and deep sea shrimp have also been depleted.2 But other stocks reserved for national exploitation, such as cod, flatfishes, and herring, seem to be in an improved condition. This is perhaps more the result of the slow rate of development of coastal fisheries than of a consistent policy for the restoration of the resources.

In the Central and Southeast Pacific, trends in the state of exploitation of the major stocks have been affected and in part masked by the influence of the very strong environmental disruption caused by El Nino in 1982-83. There has been some recovery of the stock of California sardine, but this can hardly be ascribed to improved management induced by extended fisheries jurisdiction. Trends for the larger pelagic fisheries are difficult to identify. A recent increase in the much-reduced Peruvian anchovy stock may perhaps be related to improved cooperation in research and management in recent years.

In the productive Eastern Central Atlantic region, the depleted groundfish stocks in the north do not show any signs of recent recovery although foreign fishing is now being controlled by most coastal states.3 The large pelagic stocks of sardinellas, horse mackerel, and mackerel have also not shown much improvement from their somewhat overfished state, although the Moroccan sardine has responded to reduced foreign fishing and has increased in abundance. The situation in this region, as in other developing regions, is no doubt affected by the slow development of the national skills and systems for research, management, surveillance, and control, which are a prerequisite for effective management. Nevertheless there is evidence of increased concern to institute effective management, at both national and subregional levels, especially in the north of the region.

The Southeast Atlantic is a special case, since a large part of the shelf region, off Namibia, is not yet subject to extended fisheries jurisdiction and a multilateral management body (ICSAEF) is still operational in the area. The Namibian groundfish stocks have recently shown signs of a slight recovery but the clupeid stocks of anchovy and sardine are still depleted.4 If this picture is compared with the fate of the herring stocks in the Northeast Atlantic, it can be argued that the failure of any management action for the Namibian sardine stock is a consequence of the absence in practice of any extended fisheries jurisdiction.

In Southeast Asia there are conflicts between inshore and offshore fisheries and a complex problem of shared stocks that has only recently been touched upon. There are multilateral bodies for the promotion of fishery research and development in the area, but better management of shared stocks may perhaps only follow on the establishment of improved international mechanism for management. At the purely national level, however, there are encouraging indications of attempts to establish proper management systems, as for example in Malaysia.

Finally, in the Western Central Pacific, effort has reputedly been excessive in some of the fisheries.5 The management situation is complicated by the number of countries fishing in the area (27, of which 22 are coastal states), although by far the major fishing effort is by foreign distant water fleets. Although no agreement has yet been reached by the coastal states themselves on the need for management action and the type of action to be taken, with the exception of southern bluefin and some exclusively national stocks, the stage seems set for future management action. The centre piece is the negotiation of regional access agreements by coastal states, allowing for control over the total effort on the tuna stocks in the region. One such agreement has recently been concluded with the USA; it would cover fishing both inside and outside areas of coastal state jurisdiction. It seems likely that such regional agreements will be sought with other distant water fleets operating in the region, thus allowing for both economic and biological management of the fisheries in the future.

Concern for tuna. Management of tunas in other regions of the world continues to cause some concern. Although tunas account for only two to 2.5 million tons out of a world catch of almost 80 million tons, their high value and wide-ranging distribution have resulted in major international fisheries with high fishing pressures on some stocks and areas. Among international bodies dealing with tuna, only one, the InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) has been directly involved in management.6 Its work has recently been disrupted as a result of conflicts over the issue of coastal state sovereignty over highly migratory species. The conflict has caused the virtual collapse of the IATTC, which had been active since the 1950s. There have been several attempts to replace the Commission with a new international convention, but at the moment tuna stocks in the Eastern Pacific remain without agreed management. The general picture is now one of heavily exploited stocks (with the exception of skipjack), increasing difficulties, as a result of the extension of fisheries jurisdiction, in getting access to the detailed catch data needed for stock assessment, and a dearth of institutional arrangements through which management and allocation problems can be addressed. Until the debate over the sovereignty issue is finally resolved and new institutional structures emerge from the present uncertainties, there can be little hope for improvement.

Signs of a resolution of the tuna jurisdiction conflict in favour of recognition of coastal state sovereign rights are apparent in the new multilateral treaty agreed upon last April between certain Pacific Island States and the United States. The treaty also provides an indication of the way in which tuna management may be structured in the region in the future. Basically, this would involve management decision-making by the Pacific Island coastal states through the medium of the Forum Fisheries Agency, with the cooperation of fishing nations through the medium of regional access agreements.

While the new regime introduced by the Law of the Sea Convention has undoubtedly improved the fisheries management potential for stocks exclusive to single national jurisdictions, it has left basically unsettled the problem of the management of shared stocks, which varies in importance from region to region. In the Northeast Atlantic, for example, shared stocks account for more than 80 per cent of the total exploitable fish resources. In the other northern areas of high fishing pressure, the Northwest Atlantic and the North Pacific, the proportion of shared stocks is considerably less and the problems are correspondingly less important. In other areas, such as the Eastern Central Atlantic (from Morocco to Guinea-Bissau), the Southeast Atlantic (from Gabon to the Republic of South Africa), the Patagonian shelf, the East China Sea and Yellow Sea, the shared stock issue is potentially important. Unfortunately, the Law of the Sea Convention offers little guidance on the shared stock problem.

Given the lack of agreed and tangible guidelines, one of the first tasks has been to agree upon the principles to be followed in determining share allocations. Historical fishing patterns, though an obvious solution, have not proved a useful approach in the Northeast Atlantic for a number of reasons. First, with the extension of national jurisdiction the number of parties sharing the fisheries has decreased. Secondly, for some stocks, fishing activities have in the past been concentrated on a few established fishing grounds only within the wider area of distribution of the fish. Finally, there were also objections of principle against basing such important decisions merely on fishing patterns over recent years. The harvestable portion of a fishery resource represents only one component of a resource complex that includes reproductive, recruiting, and at times also special growth phases. The whole resource complex is itself dependent on the system of production at lower trophic levels in the sea. The geographical area of these different phases does not necessarily coincide with that of the fishable part of the population. As a matter of principle it would seem unreasonable not to take into consideration these factors when allocating access to a resource.

The coastal states of the Northeast Atlantic requested ICES, early on under the new regime of extended jurisdiction, to prepare a detailed description of the geographical distribution of the stocks during these various phases and of the fishing operations themselves as a basis for negotiations on the share proportions to be used when allocating access to shared stocks.

For highly migratory species, the problems of shared resources are in principle even more difficult. In practice, however, there are at present not many tuna stocks in the world under management schemes in which biologically based sharing formulae would form an integral part. The distribution of access to and benefits from these stocks has, up to new, been based mainly on historical and present fishing patterns. In the Eastern Pacific, for example, quotes for yellowfin tuna were originally allocated on the basis of historical fishing activity, though with some quotas reserved for coastal states under the Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Fishing Agreement adopted as an interim replacement for the IATTC Convention any permanent regime for the Eastern Pacific Ocean tuna fisheries would include equitable guaranteed quotas for coastal states based on, among other criteria, the concentration of the tuna resources. The agreement counterproposed by other Latin American coastal states provides no immediate objective criterion for allocation of resource shares. It would give pre-eminence to the establishment of national quotas by the individual coastal states, leaving open future negotiations on resource allocation among those coastal states. In either case, the issues will become of increasing importance in the future.

In the Southwestern and Central Pacific no regionwide biologically based management measures have yet been applied. In any event the predominance of the foreign distant water fleets in the region and the regional approach adopted to access licensing make the problems of allocation more tractable. The distribution of financial benefits from regional access agreements have up to now been based for the most part on the geographical location of actual fishing operations.

The continued problems of open access posed by shared stocks constitute a significant flaw in the otherwise much simpler regime based on coastal state jurisdiction. The issue has complicated the efficient establishment of the new regime and threatens its future execution, to an extent probably not foreseen the UNCLOS negotiations. It is perhaps not surprising that of the concrete examples given of improvement management, most have arisen in situations with a predominance of exclusive stocks.

The problem of shared stocks also raises the issue of institutional arrangements required for international management. As expected, the extension of fisheries jurisdiction has caused a shift away from multilateral fisheries commissions to more restricted and for the most part bilateral commissions, providing forums for an ongoing process of negotiation and agreement. In the Northeast Atlantic this has resulted in a management system that functions more efficiently and in a more timely fashion than the previous NEAFC regime.7 The main reason is that fewer parties are now involved in the negotiations. The change is probably symptomatic of management regimes for coastal fisheries throughout the world, at least in so far as fisheries bodies with real management powers are concerned. Even with regional fisheries bodies having only a recommendatory role with respect to management and general functions of coordination and development promotion, such as the FAO regional fisheries bodies, there has been a movement toward the establishment of management forums with membership restricted to coastal states, in recognition of the new sovereign rights of those states. For research, stock assessment, and purely advisory functions, multilateral regional organizations in which both coastal states and significant noncoastal fishing interests are directly or indirectly represented remain the most effective and preferred form.

One striking consequence of the extension of national fisheries jurisdiction has been the increasing interest shown by regional economic and political groupings in the management and development fisheries. Examples, in addition to the European Community, are the South Pacific Forum, which in 1979 set up its own regional Forum Fisheries Agency; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is becoming increasingly involved in fisheries matters; the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which recently established a regional fisheries desk; the Caribbean Economic Community (CARICOM), which is embarking on a programme for the development of a common fisheries policy; and SELA (Sistema Econa Latina Americana), which has recently established its own fisheries agency, OLDEPESCA. The movement is hardly surprising, given that the extension of jurisdiction has now brought marine fisheries within the mainstream of coastal states' economies.

In summary, the picture of fisheries management almost a decade after the extension of fisheries jurisdiction is still unclear. Quantitatively, there have not been many concrete examples of improved management reflected in improved stocks directly attributable to the changes in the legal regime. There have been some failures and a number of missed opportunities. But there have been some successes. And more important, there does appear to be a growing awareness in both developing and developed countries of the need for fisheries management and an increasing commitment to plan for and carry out that management. The results cannot yet be measured objectively. But the importance of the change in thinking in fisheries circles should not be underestimated. To obtain concrete results will take time, but it does seem that the process has already begun.

The last decade for pesticides?

by David Barkin

[David Barkin is research director, Ecodevelopment Centre, Mexico City, and Full Professor of Economics, Universidad Auta Metropolitans, Xochimilco Campus. The research on which this article is based was conducted as part of the research programme of the Ecodevelopment Centre an institutional member of the Mexican Council for Science and Technology.]

Reliance on pesticides constitutes a fundamental part of prevailing agricultural technology. But increasingly, research by agronomists, plant breeders, and biotechnologists is offering new options which are bath more profitable and ecologically less pernicious. As these new technologies are developing, and pesticide technology is waning, it is not surprising to see a lively struggle among chemical companies, farmers, and the public over the use of pesticides. At present, restrictions on the use of pesticides are increasingly common and more effectively enforced in recognition of the dangers to workers in the fields and factories, to consumers, and to the environment.

The challenge to agriculturists concerned about practising a sustainable agriculture is to develop alternative approaches to pest control which reduce or eliminate the dangers of contamination and persistence in the environment inherent in the use of noxious agrochemicals, while limiting problems of infestation and resistance among potential pests. Concurrently, for the greatest number of the world's farmers - the smallholders of the Third World - the search for alternatives is not simply a response to dangers or restrictions: it is a necessity born of the lack of the economic wherewithal to implement the chemical approach to pest management.

When the high economic, human, and resource costs of pesticide dependency are considered alongside the growing problems, the case in support of a concerted effort to develop and implement new approaches to pest control becomes compelling. The World Bank recognized this need in its 1985 guidelines for project support: "Sound pest management should aim to reduce dependence on chemical pesticides through the establishment of economic control thresholds and through the use, wherever possible, of agronomic and related practices which reduce the severity of pest attacks." Thus, after a brief discussion of the pesticide problem, this article will focus on the constructive alternatives to the use of pesticides already available to enhance agricultural productivity. These alternatives take several different approaches: changing cultivation patterns to reduce the problem of infestation through crop rotation and biological controls; the introduction of integrated, non-chemical pest management programmes; and new forms of delivery of chemicals less pernicious to people and their environment.

The pesticide problem. Pesticides are lethal by definition. To be effective, they must be toxic. In some cases, they are specific to one organism, but in most they are deadly to a range of flora or fauna. Since the Second World War, the use of pesticides in agriculture has reshaped economic and social development. Their introduction and dissemination facilitated the opening of new regions to cultivation and the transformation of others to new crops. The impact was particularly dramatic in tropical and subtropical areas, where commercial agriculture often destroyed natural settings and traditional models of diversified cultivation.

Pesticides also offered a solution to another problem: how to incorporate the complex ecologies of diverse micro-environments into a more homogeneous pattern of resource management. Smallholder agriculture, which still predominates in most of the world, evolved from the complex interaction between human selection of plants for domestication and the environments in which cultivation occurred. Modern society has modified this interaction between culture, biology, and environment. Pesticides constitute a particularly powerful class of agents of such transformations. Their introduction into agriculture offered the possibility of simplifying cultivation practices by reducing the number of exogenous variables that had to be manipulated by the producer. By defining a broad variety of flora and fauna as "pests" and eliminating or suppressing them with synthetic substances, modern agriculturists did not have to acquire the broad base of knowledge and wide variety of techniques which the "traditional" cultivator inherited. Thus, pesticides accelerated the pace of monocropping, which in turn was part of rural insertion into the internationalized production system.

These transformations are viewed with favour among a substantial part of the commercial and research communities in agriculture. In contrast, those concerned about the welfare and survival of the world's small farmers have been concerned that the high costs of pesticides has made them inaccessible for most smallholders. In the long run, however, this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, for even the fervent supporters of pesticides are beginning to recognize their drawbacks and to reassess the value of the traditional farmers' techniques. The pesticides are toxic not only to the creatures they are intended to attack. They also strike other living organisms, including the workers who manufacture and apply them and the ultimate consumers of the food products. And they accumulate in the soil and water, thereby posing a growing threat into the future. An additional problem stems from the fact that pesticides can kill off the natural predators of the "pests", so that the applicators find themselves in a vicious circle, requiring more chemicals to control the growing scourge. Still worse from the point of view of the commercial farmer, their effectiveness is diminishing with time as the targets develop resistance to their toxicity, rendering the chemicals useless.

Alternatives to pesticide technology. Until recently, most of the critical literature on pesticide use has called for an end to synthetic pesticides, with few proposals for alternatives. However, many researchers have now begun to study the techniques used by farmers in confronting pest problems during the generations before the advent of synthetic chemical compounds; others have documented the use of modern methods.

In the following sections, some examples will be discussed as part of a review of the directions of current and future work in this area.

a) Changing cultivation practices and patterns. One of the most widely recognized sources of concern in agriculture is the potential damage from plagues associated with intensive cultivation of a single commercial crop in a concentrated area. This problem is particularly serious in the cultivation of cotton, which demands more insecticides than any other single crop. In most regions it shows a typical pattern in which exclusive reliance on chemicals works well over a short period (from 5 to 15 years), only to require increasing dosages and more frequent applications as the pests gain resistance, until they can no longer be controlled economically, if at all. Several different strategies, involving a combination of methods, have been used to confront the problem. The experience in Peru in the 1950s is particularly illustrative of an effective eclectic approach. There, cotton cultivation was threatened by declining yields as a result of the reduced efficacy of the synthetic chemicals. Instead of attempting a different range of chemicals, the enlightened authorities banned the use of synthetic organic pesticides, reintroduced beneficial insects, and "mandated the adoption of certain cultural practices, such as early maturing varieties, establishing deadlines for planting, and destroying crop residues". As a result of this programme, primary pest outbreaks declined dramatically in intensity and cotton yields rose 30 per cent over previous levels.

The inclination to combat plagues with synthetic chemicals is so ingrained that alternative approaches are often strongly resisted by scientists and planters alike. Thus, when the United Fruit Company found that its Costa Rican plantations were infested by two insects, it immediately resorted to the aerial and ground application of insecticides. Continued problems with insects were met with more intensive applications without success. The original group of entomologists was subsequently replaced by others who called for a drastic reduction in the use of synthetic agents. Only after some 15 years of work and experiments with smaller applications were the ecologically oriented entomologists able to convince the company to take "a bold step" of stopping all insecticide spraying. Within two years, the pest problem disappeared. The success of the programme was enhanced by the proximity of nearby forests that provided refuge for the natural enemies of the pests during the years of intensive applications of pesticides, offering evidence of the importance of environmental diversity in a programme of ecological control.

Diversified ecologies and cultivation patterns and practices are well suited to the nutritional and other needs of smallholder populations. For example, the highly productive chinampa system, developed by the pre-Columbian populations of Mexico, "incorporates interplanting of crops in unusually sophisticated ways, mimicking the natural conditions of the humid rainforest and thereby controlling for moisture, nutrients, light absorption, and pests." In the highland areas of Mexico interplanting and varietal selection for resistance to pests and weather variation are all elements in the traditional agricultural system. Fortunately, these practices persist in spite of the onslaught of modern technology, especially in those regions where commercial agriculture has not been sufficiently profitable to draw people from the security of their traditional approaches to food production.

More research is needed on diversified cropping systems. But even with our rudimentary knowledge, it is apparent that such systems offer great potential for minimizing the damage from pests while also enhancing agriculture's ability to meet the world's food needs and improve the incomes of small farmers.

b) Integrated pest management. A different approach to pest control in cotton, using "trap crops", has also been proven as a means to reduce pesticide use. A programme in Nicaragua demonstrated the effectiveness of preceding the regular planting season with the introduction of small plots which would be used to attract pest populations, especially the boll weevil, where they could be attacked by intensive applications of insecticides as part of a broader "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM) programme. The programme "reduced subsequent pesticide applications by 30 per cent and produced a cotton yield nearly 15 per cent higher" than in fields using traditional chemical approaches to pest control. This was complemented by "dense seeding to obtain a high plant population resistant to damage by soil pests, and scouting at three- to four-day intervals by trained field aides to monitor the growth and development of the cotton plants and determine the status of pests and activity of natural enemies." This approach requires "area-wide implementation for success because key pests are widely distributed and highly mobile over the cottongrowing area."1 "But unlike certain self-perpetuating biological pest controls, IPM for cotton requires constant vigilance.... The system requires, beyond good design, adequate education and rewards for human organisms that keep it running."

Similar techniques have been used elsewhere with striking success. Brazilian agricultural researchers sought help from US colleagues in controlling infestations in soybeans. National research organizations and international sources joined to create a programme which defined "economic thresholds" below which the presence of pests could be tolerated without a decline in yield or seed quality. Only when infestations exceeded this level would minimal dosages of non-persistent pesticides having the least detrimental effect on natural enemies be applied. As a result of the IPM programme, pesticide applications on soybeans decreased by 80-90 per cent between 1975 and 1982.

A beetle infestation of coconut palm, a major source of the world's edible oil with multiple other uses in the tropics, inspired a group of FAO scientists to develop a biological control programme based on the use of a lethal virus that attacked the larvae. The disease, which caused millions of dollars of damage annually, was identified in 1953. By 1979 the problem had been controlled to such an extent that the programme was terminated.

Another case of biological controls is the fight against the mealybug, which affects cassava planting among subsistence producers in Africa. Initially, in spite of the fact that cassava is a fundamental part of the diet of millions, it was ignored by the international agricultural community because it was not an important cash or food crop in the temperate zones. But when pests began to cause widespread devastation, the search for some natural enemy became urgent. As a result of a coordinated international effort, scientists were able to find a wasp that was a particularly effective natural enemy of the mealybug. The success of this project has been held back by the difficulty of propagating the wasp as fast as required in the many African countries which are "desperately waiting for releases". Another problem with this biological agent, as with most others, is that it is "very cheap to maintain, but extremely expensive to develop and initially distribute. Since there is no long-term potential for profit, multinational corporations will rarely, if ever, invest in this type of control.... The case serves to underline the need for generous investments by governments, and the high return, in human terms, such investments can yield."

The potential benefits of IPM are not limited to the developing countries. Even among the highly commercialized fruit and vegetable growers of the US state of Florida, the use of biological agents is widely accepted as an environmentally more benign approach to pest control. Although some of these agents are being created with genetic engineering techniques most of them are likely to be found naturally occurring.

c) New forms of pesticide delivery. The agrochemical companies are developing new strategies to meet the criticisms of chemical pesticides and to defend their markets. The groundwork for this move has been set with the gradual assimilation of many independent seed companies by transnational corporations active in other agricultural input markets. With this integration, the companies have been modifying seeds through varietal selection and genetic manipulation to make the crops more resistant to certain pests and also to induce resistance to certain chemicals which can then be applied to control the spread of other plagues affecting that crop.6

This technology is most advanced in the area of developing herbicide tolerant plant crops using a patented "aroA gene" "which permits more widespread and frequent use of herbicides for post-emergent weed control while reducing the need for pre emergent application".'' Although industry spokespeople argue that this will reduce the need for tillage (as part of a change in grain technology in dryland farming) and therefore lower groundwater contamination, a commentator pointed out that this innovation will lead to greater herbicide use and therefore more releases of toxic substances and accumulation in the environment.

Another approach is to bundle seeds in a "cocoon" package including appropriate (proprietary) chemicals to assure the timed release of fertilizers and pesticides appropriate for specific environmental conditions. Advocates say that with this specific targeting, smaller doses of synthetic chemicals will be required, while the profits of the chemical companies will be greater.

The handwriting on the wall. Although pesticides continue to be used as part of the struggle for higher productivity, increasing pressures from groups concerned with the environment will combine with the economic logic of the profit equation to push farmers and researchers to search for alternative ways to handle pest control problems. At present, technology is not always contributing to progress in this direction. For example, herbicide use is increasing with the "minimum tillage" movement. But there is increasing recognition of the need to promote techniques to raise productivity without using environmentally damaging chemicals and practices. With this understanding, alternatives to the prevailing models of "modern" and "commercial" cultivation practices are being adopted along with other approaches to pest control. Many of these involve a belated appreciation of the wisdom of "traditional" farming systems.

It remains to be seen whether industry responses to the criticisms of present pesticide technologies are effective approaches to confront the economic and environmental problems. The companies themselves see the handwriting on the wall: present pesticide practices have proved to be socially unacceptable, technologically inefficient, and economically unsound, and alternative solutions must be developed for a more sustainable agriculture.