PICs: Conflicts between resource use policy and international obligations, treaties and relations.
The countries of the Pacific regulate their international relations through regional and global agreements. These obligate the countries to work together and adopt common strategies. There are numerous agreements related to sustainable development and protection of the environment, the most important umbrella agreements on the environment being the South Pacific Regional Environment Program and Agenda 21.
While the countries in the Pacific may agree on the policies outlined in these agreements, they seldom follow them in practice. One reason for this is that the agreements are not understood by the management-level people in the government or the private sector. Fishers, Loggers, Miners or Public Works employees, for example, will seldom have any understanding of the relation between their actions and Agenda 21 or the Biodiversity Convention.
Assistance given by outside funding agencies has resulted in policy conflicts. In addition to the citation box above concerning PNG coastal plans, Vanuatu provides a valuable insight into the issue of sustainability and international assistance.
International labour agreements can cause conflicts when, for example, migrant workers enter the workforce. Mining, forestry, tourism, and business developments created through international assistance or as bilateral trade agreements may conflict with social harmony, employment opportunities and small business development for local people. Conflicts also arise when resources are shared by more than one country. Migratory fishes, such as Tuna, are the prime example in the Pacific. Potential conflicts in this area have been moderated by the formation of the Forum Fisheries Agency, a regional intergovernmental agency that mediates migratory fisheries in the Pacific sub-region.
Bilateral fishing conflicts are uncommon between Pacific island nations because they are widely separated. Australia, however, has had resource conflicts with Indonesia over the deepwater snapper fishery of the Timor Sea (Ramm 1995) and with PNG over the Torres Straits sea cucumber fishery (Lokani 1995).