The Pacific Basin, with an area of 177 million km2, constitutes 35% of the earth’s surface making it easily the largest feature on the globe (and 21% larger than the earth’s total land surface). It has also become a region of increasing economic importance. It has been stated, for example, that “the rapid industrial growth in the countries of eastern and southeastern Asia has transformed the Pacific Basin into the world’s most dynamic region in terms of economic and social development” (Benjamin & Hewett, 1982). Data presented by Crawford (1981) for 1976 showed that the nations of the Pacific Basin had a population of 668·1 millions (or 16.5% of the world total) with a total gross national product of $U.S. 2·69×1012. The population is expected to rise to 26% of the world total by the year 2000 (Philpott, 1982). In terms of marine resources, the Pacific region has about 54% of the estimated world fish reserves and contributes about 54% of the world catch (Philpott, 1982). Of course, hydrocarbons remain the principal offshore resource in this region (Hedberg, Moody & Hedberg, 1979; U.N. Ocean Economics and Technology Branch, 1981; Curlin, 1984; Ives, 1984; Siddayo, 1984) but this is beyond the scope of this article. Wijkman (1982) has estimated that the oceans now produce products with 5% of world income. The importance of the Pacific Basin in global terms cannot, therefore, be doubted. In this respect, it is worth recalling the comment of J.M.Hay (U.S. Secretary of State 1898-1905) that “the Mediterranean is the ocean of the past, the Atlantic is the ocean of the present, but the Pacific is the ocean of the future”.