The growing realization that the living resources of the ocean were not inexhaustible together with the practical implications of that conclusion have had profound effects on the manner in which we view the oceans and its resources. If the oceans and their resources were truly unlimited the imperative for management systems would be removed. However, as time passed technology associated with resource exploitation and utilization improved and human population, with attendant needs and expectations, increased. Evidence of declines in availability of the ocean’s living resources was increasingly noted. The possibility that ocean resources were limited had to be considered.
Further, technological and demographic factors also resulted in a growing number of conflict of use situations, as will be seen in this chapter. Given the political reality of a world of independent sovereign states, entities which could act as they pleased in areas beyond the territorial jurisdiction of other states, along what general lines might the management of ocean areas develop? In a variety of fora, both governmental and nongovernmental, attention was given to emerging management problems.
At least five approaches could be taken to respond to emergent needs. First, the status quo might be maintained. But it was becoming apparent to a growing number of observers that the division of ocean space into very narrow territorial seas and high seas was dysfunctional. The association of the cannon-shot rule with the territorial sea underscored the territorial sea’s origin in considerations of security against attack and invasion, but over time the nature of the threat which coastal states faced extended to other matters such as the need for resource protection. The status quo increasingly appeared to be untenable given trends in fisheries catch.
Second, the territorial sea could be left with narrow limits and the fisheries beyond such waters could be governed through a system of international agreements and arrangements. Baden-Powell, Colombos and the eminent French international law experts Gilbert Gidel and Paul Fauchille, for example, were of the view that this was the appropriate response to fisheries