A crowd of 700 jammed the Harvard Law School Forum last night to hear oceanographer Jacques Cousteau call for international cooperation to guarantee that all nations share responsibly in the sea's wealth.
According to Cousteau, those nations which already have regulations governing the use of the waters off their coasts have consistently failed to enforce them.
Even if existing laws were enforced, Cousteau said he feels that more comprehensive and equitable international regulations would be necessary to control the harvest and distribution of ocean fish and mineral resources.
Cousteau called the U.S. unilateral declaration of a 200-mile offshore fishing limit an "untimely mistake." He said the move effectively scuttled international efforts to define offshore fishing limits.
Discussing the problems in reaching an international accord on ocean resource conservation and development, Cousteau said many developing nations view environmental protection as incompatible with economic development.
Cousteau quoted a Pakistani representative to the international Law of the Sea Conference as saying, "Pakistan would like to have pollution," because it would indicate that the country had achieved a high level of industrial development.
As a counter-example, Cousteau mentioned that Algeria's socialist government is accepting the short-term expense of sound ecological management in view of its long-term economic, moral, and aesthetic benefits.
The economic ocean zones established by the Law of the Sea Conference are stupid. Cousteau said, because ocean currents will spread the damage inflicted on any particular zone into other countries' zones, leading to international conflicts.
Cousteau is in Boston to coordinate planning for an upcoming "Involvement Day" program of lectures and seminars May 14 focusing on environmental activism.
He will share the podium with George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology, and author Barry Commoner.