Making Fishery Agreements Work

Making Fishery Agreements Work

Post-Agreement Bargaining in the Barents Sea

Geir Hønneland

Why do people obey the law? And why do states abide by their international commitments? These are among the questions raised in this important book. The setting is the Barents Sea, home to some of the most productive fishing grounds on the planet, including the world’s largest cod stock. Norway and Russia manage these fish resources together, in what appears to be a successful exception to the rule of failed fisheries management: stocks are in good shape, institutional cooperation is expanding and takes place in a constructive atmosphere. The author argues that post-agreement bargaining helps activate norms and establish standard operating procedure that furthers precautionary fisheries management.

Chapter 4: Post-agreement Bargaining at State Level

Geir Hønneland

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, environment, environmental law, environmental management, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


59 fishery management bodies frequently proposed new management measures – and the Russians routinely accepted them. But then, around the turn of the millennium, Russian rhetoric changed: Norway’s initiatives in the Barents Sea were now largely dismissed as being initiated in order to harm Russia; at least, that was what representatives of the Russian fishery management system told the Russian public. Nevertheless, it proved possible to reach compromise between the two countries on several issues, notably the setting of the TAC. These events are explained in more detail below. I first provide a chronological presentation of each thematic case. This is mainly an account of events as seen from the Commission itself, although I briefly discuss whether its presentation of reality is valid: Was Russian overfishing in the early 1990s actually eliminated? Were TACs brought in line with the precautionary approach during the 2000s? Here I do not provide a full overview of scientific recommendations, established TACs and actual catches each year (see Hønneland, 2006; Stokke, 2010a, forthcoming), but more episodic accounts of central clusters of events during the 1990s and 2000s. My objective is not to document the history of the Joint Commission, but to present the cases in which post-agreement bargaining has been most prevalent. Then a section on bargaining dynamics follows. Here the focus is not on the outcomes, but on the processes that led to them. What form did Norway’s negotiation efforts take? How were the Norwegian initiatives perceived by the Russians? In the final section,...

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