REVERSING THE BURDEN OF PROOF
ICES, in its work on deep-sea fisheries, constantly reaffirms the sustainability principle, and marries it to another principle: that of reversing the burden of proof. ICES has repeatedly demanded that “no new fisheries for deep-sea fish should be allowed until it can be demonstrated that they are capable of being sustainable.” It should fall to the fishing fleet or operator to prove that their activities are sustainable before fishing begins.
Paul Dayton was to first to apply the principle of reversing the burden of proof to fisheries management. He highlighted the perverse logic in the management of fisheries resources: unlike resource exploitation on land, fishing was seen as a right and not a privilege. “Policies cannot be expected to be implemented until the burden of proof is placed on exploiters of public marine resources to prove that they do not cause damage rather than simply assuming this to be the case until demonstrated otherwise. Similar commercial use of land resources requires extensive environmental impact studies and is carefully regulated.”
The idea of reversing the burden of proof underlies all UN resolutions governing deep-sea fisheries, particularly resolutions 61/105 and 64/72.
Paul K. Dayton, Reversal of the Burden of Proof in Fisheries Management. Science, 6 February 1998, Vol. 279 (5352): 821.