U.S.-Soviet Talks On Bering Sea Adjourn With No Moratorium Agreement
Apr. 23, 1988
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A week of U.S.-Soviet talks on the Bering Sea fishery that included discussion of a possible ban on fishing in the so-called ''doughnut hole,'' ended Friday with only a promise of additional meetings.
''It was a good first meeting,'' said Edward Wolfe, the State Department's ambassador for oceans and fisheries who headed the U.S. delegation. ''We agreed this was going to be an exploratory meeting and we exchanged views.''
Wolfe said no agreement was reached on a fishing moratorium in the ''doughnut hole,'' a 4,500-square mile area in the center of the Bering Sea that is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.
Wolfe declined further comment, adding only that such a fishing ban was discussed.
''We will continue to discuss this issue,'' said Wolfe, adding that he would brief members of Congress next week.
The two sides agreed to meet again in Moscow later this spring.
Wolfe said the Soviet Union shares U.S. concerns that foreign trawlers may be overfishing the ''doughnut hole'' and that could cause a decline in the catch in the American and Soviet fishing zones that surround the area.
The catch by foreign vessels, including those from Japan, South Korea, China and Poland, has risen from roughly 200,000 metric tons in 1984 to more than 1 million metric tons in 1987.
According to a joint statement issued after the negotiations ended, both sides agreed to ''develop further cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union and the exercise of their rights and duties under international law to coordinate conservation and management'' of fishing in the Bering Sea.
Earlier this year, the Senate overhwelmingly approved a resolution calling on the State Department to negotiate a fishing moratorium in the ''doughnut hole.''
The Senate vote came in the wake of the videotapping by American fishermen of seven Japanese trawlers fishing illegally in U.S. waters off Alaska.