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 7: The conservation of living resources on the high seas: constituent elements for compliance and enforcement

Simone Borg

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


As we have seen in Chapters 3 and 5, states may disagree on the constituent parameters of sustainability on any issue involving the exploitation of natural resources, but state practice endorses ‘sustainable use’ as the rationale of the law in regulating the conservation of natural resources. Therefore, the qualification to the freedom of fishing entails that any conservation measures that flag states may take should be conducive to sustainable exploitation of marine living resources. As discussed in the previous chapter, both compliance and enforcement measures are essential for conservation regimes to achieve their objectives and to remain effective. The major acts that breach the obligation to conserve living resources on the high seas can be summed up as follows: fishing for protected species, exceeding fishing quotas, under-reporting of catches, using illegal fishing gear, fishing in marine protected areas, fishing in closed seasons, fishing without authorization or permits from the flag state. The major compliance and enforcement tools are directed to prevent, deter and eliminate such illicit practices that are often popularly termed as IUU fishing. Flag states, port states and coastal states and, insofar as authorized by its Parties, even RFMOs, have different roles and obligations in ecuring compliance and enforcement on the high seas. There are, however, some measures that are common and may be considered as the constituent elements for compliance and enforcement regimes pertaining to the conservation of high seas living resources.

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