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 5: Post-agreement Bargaining at Individual Level

Geir Hønneland


We now move away from the negotiation venues of the Joint Commission and its Permanent Committee to the fishing fields of the Barents Sea; from meetings between Norwegian and Russian scientists and civil servants to encounters between Norwegian Coast Guard inspectors and Russian fishers. These meetings take place on the open sea, when inspectors board the fishing vessels to check catches, fishing gear, holds and documentation, such as the catch log. All this takes several hours, so there is plenty of time to discuss matters related to the inspection as well as other things. There is also radio communication between Coast Guard vessels and the fishing fleet. Well into the 1990s, the Coast Guard had Russian interpreters on its staff, but in recent years the Russian captains’ command of English has improved to such an extent that interpreters are considered unnecessary. The Coast Guard carries out fishery inspections on behalf of the Ministry of Fisheries, and inspection data are fed into the quota control performed by the Directorate of Fisheries. But the Coast Guard is more than a watchdog: it is also responsible for search and rescue; it occasionally assists the fishing fleet in changing of crew, transport of material and ice-breaking; it can provide medical assistance and other services connected with the wellbeing of the seafaring community. In short, it is the state’s representative in these vast areas1 – it takes two days for a fishing vessel to get from Svalbard to the mainland. This chapter provides accounts of the...

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