Making Fishery Agreements Work
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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.
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Chapter 3: Fisheries Management in the Barents Sea

Geir Hønneland


This chapter outlines the empirical setting of our case of post-agreement bargaining, in terms of biology, and legal and institutional arrangements. We start with a brief description of the main fish stocks of the Barents Sea – the economic assets which attract the interest of fishers from many countries, and which the coastal states aim to manage sustainably for future generations. Primary focus is on the three stocks that have been managed jointly by Norway and the Soviet Union/Russia since the 1970s: cod, haddock and capelin. We also take a quick look at the fisheries: Who takes part? How are fishing operations conducted? Then follows an outline of the legal setting of these fisheries. What does the law of the sea say about fisheries jurisdiction, and what are the implications for management of the Barents Sea fisheries? Thereafter I provide overviews of the Norwegian and Russian systems for fisheries management. The chapter ends with a more detailed introduction to the bilateral management regime between the two countries, with emphasis on the working form of the Joint Commission, and the thematic issues that have predominated since it was established in the mid-1970s.1 THE FISH RESOURCES The Barents Sea abounds in fish stocks of a wide range of species. The reason for this abundance is the rich plankton production in these waters, providing food for large stocks of pelagic fish – that is, fish living in the upper layers of the open sea. The pelagic fish stocks of the Barents Sea, first and foremost...

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