Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Alexander Gillespie

This important and timely book provides a rigorous overview of the defining issues presently facing conservation at international level. The author provides detailed coverage of topics ranging from the classification of species right through to access and benefit sharing, drawing on his personal experience at intergovernmental level. Each question is examined through the prism of dozens of treaties and hundreds of decisions and resolutions of the key multilateral regimes, and the law in each area is supplemented by the necessary considerations of science, politics and philosophy – providing much-needed context for the reader.

Chapter 11: Incidental Capture

Alexander Gillespie

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, public international law


1. INTRODUCTION Incidental catch is one of the primary considerations leading to the endangerment of many species. In itself, this is not a new problem. What is new is the scale of the difficulties, and the clear agreement in international conservation law that measures must be adopted to confront it. In this regard, a number of measures with regards to the utilizations of indiscriminate technologies have been developed, and supplemented with policy options that make the unintended capture of non-targeted species unattractive. 2. INCIDENTAL CATCH Incidental catch, which is also known as ‘by-catch’ is a large problem in international environmental law generally. When associated with fisheries, the idea of ‘discards’ is often linked to this concept although, for the purposes of this work, by-catch is defined by the wider approach of the capturing of non-targets, not necessarily what is done with them. The driving consideration is that much of the current catch taken from the world’s oceans is unsuitable for human consumption. For example, in the Asia–Pacific region in 2007, of 40 million tons of captured fish, 29.5 percent was used for human food (often as cheap food when poor quality is caught), 9.8 percent for animal food (in line with the global figure of 25 to 30 percent of the total catch as animal feed), and 0.7 percent for discards. A crude estimate for the global total of incidental catch is that it could be more than 20 million tons each year, at around 23 percent of marine...

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