Conservation on the High Seas

Conservation on the High Seas

Harmonizing International Regimes for the Sustainable Use of Living Resources

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Simone Borg

This timely book discusses various international norms that qualify the right, which all states have to access and exploit living resources in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, in order to promote the conservation of such species.

Chapter 5: The main constituent elements of conservation regimes for living resources on the high seas

Simone Borg

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


Chapters 3 and 4 demonstrate that the obligation to conserve living resources on the high seas has generated a cohort of international norms which take into account a number of variables. These include diverse geophysical and ecological characteristics of the oceans as well as disparities in fishing and fishing efforts between one area of the high seas and another. Additionally, the applicable norms address both marine biodiversity in general, and the diverse needs of particular species, because of behavioural and biological characteristics, their commercial value or other considerations. The discussion in the previous chapters highlights the importance of the dynamic nature of the law that led to an intensive build-up of treaty norms intended to fi ne-tune the general obligation for states to take conservation measures. We have seen that these treaties enjoy wide membership and so they have influenced state practice but that some states have continued to persist in their objections regarding certain conservation measures and methods adopted by the international community at large. Furthermore, gaps in international law still exist, as in the case of the conservation of sedentary species beyond national jurisdiction. This successive accretion of rules may leave the user baffled by the complex nature of the applicable international legal framework. Systematic integration of this plurality of general and specialized norms indicates the need for a harmonization exercise, which elicits the major constituent elements emerging therefrom.

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