Conservation on the High Seas
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Conservation on the High Seas

Harmonizing International Regimes for the Sustainable Use of Living Resources

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.
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Chapter 8: Conclusion

Simone Borg


The international community’s attempt to conserve high seas living resources has generated a vast body of rules that span across different sectors of international law. Identifying applicable sources is not a plain sailing exercise as one needs to determine which legal sources apply and also how these must be interpreted in the light of contemporary state practice with respect to particular situations, given the constant development and specialized nature of this branch of law. The chances of conflict and ambiguity in the law increase as more rules are generated. The discussion in the previous chapters identifies various situations which prompt the need for harmonization among applicable rules of international law. The first and possibly the most common is the lack of coherence between prior and subsequent norms addressing the same circumstances. A number of treaties regulating living resources on the high seas already existed before UNCLOS was concluded. The 1982 Convention built upon their provisions and codified customary rules applicable at the time. It qualifies the freedom of fishing subjecting it to the rights, duties and interests of coastal states, other participants in the fishery and to the interests of the international community. The Convention requires states to accommodate their different interests via cooperation but does not elaborate upon what should be done if cooperation fails. It does not have any provisions on compliance and enforcement, even if it establishes compulsory dispute settlement.

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