nation convention designed to address the problem of overharvesting of pollock in the central Bering Sea (Balton, 2001). Although these are clearly steps in the right direction, it is premature at this stage to conclude that they will solve the problems arising from institutional interplay in the Bering Sea Region. CDQs do not provide a substitute in sociocultural terms for the existence of a strong cadre of local fishers, and the pollock stocks of the doughnut hole have yet to recover sufficiently to activate the management procedures established under the six-nation convention. Accordingly, there is a real danger that the innovations of the 1990s will be assessed in the future as responses that were too little and too late. In any event, it is clear that the growth of coastal state jurisdiction over marine resources and the subsequent emergence of (sub)national systems of sea use have triggered new forms of institutional interplay in this realm whose consequences have been costly not only for many individuals, but also for the welfare of small coastal communities in an area like Alaska.


Turn now to institutional interplay occurring at higher levels of social organization and, more specifically, to the hypothesis that the effectiveness of international environmental regimes—measured in terms of efficiency and equity as well as sustainability—is determined, in considerable measure, by the interplay between rules and decision-making procedures articulated at the international level and the political, economic, and social systems prevailing within individual member states. International regimes normally set forth generic rules applicable to all their members, leaving the implementation of these rules to be handled mainly by public agencies and actors located within individual member states.12 It follows that the effectiveness of these regimes depends on the performance of national institutions and is likely to vary substantially from one member state to another. Arrangements that perform well when there is a good fit between the provisions of international regimes and the political and economic systems of member states can fail miserably when the interplay between these arrangements is problematic. Following an account of the logic of this hypothesis, this section turns to brief illustrations of this type of interplay in the cases of regimes dealing with tropical timber in Southeast Asia and protected natural areas in the Circumpolar North and of regimes addressing the fisheries of the Barents and Bering Seas. As in the case of interplay between local and (sub)national institutions, similar dynamics occur in many other settings.

Competence, Compatibility, and Capacity

It is tempting to assume that once countries sign and ratify agreements establishing international regimes, they will proceed to carry out the obligations they

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