Harmonizing International Regimes for the Sustainable Use of Living Resources
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 4: Specialized conservation measures for particular species on the high seas
Although most conservation obligations under UNCLOS were organized on the basis of jurisdictional zones, the 1982 Convention and other international regimes devise norms that target the conservation of particular species which, at some point during their life cycle, may occur on the high seas. This reflects the recent trend for international regimes to adopt measures based on an ecosystem approach, which UNCLOS supports under its articles 61 and 119. A conservation regime that is tailor-made to address particular species is essential for a number of reasons. States have diverse interests over different species; these are dictated by national socio-economic needs and cultural attitudes. Some species have a higher commercial value and are therefore more subject to over-exploitation, whilst others are more vulnerable to over-harvesting or for being taken as bycatch because of their behavioural characteristics. All these realities have influenced the evolution of international law to develop conservation norms from a species-based perspective. In this context, UNCLOS distinguishes between the following different types of living marine resources: straddling, highly migratory, anadromous, catadromous species, and marine mammals. All of these species may occur on the high seas and hence they are subject to the freedom of fishing. Another separate group of living marine resources that are referred to under UNCLOS are the sedentary species, which are considered to be an integral art of the resources of the continental shelf and are specifically excluded from the EEZ regime. There is no mention of sedentary species under the UNCLOS high seas regime.
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