Access and Benefit Sharing in International Law
Chapter 4: Seas and oceans
The Law of the Seas has essentially evolved out of European practices recognising a ‘freedom of the seas’ subject to limited territorial claims by coastal states. In recent times the First UN Conference on the Law of the Sea held in 1958 led to various agreements, including the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas. The concern at the time was about potential over-exploitation of the fishing stock and the need to conserve resources for the future: Considering that the development of modern techniques for the exploitation of the living resources of the sea, increasing man’s ability to meet the need of the world’s expanding population for food, has exposed some of these resources to the danger of being over-exploited. Considering also that the nature of the problems involved in the conservation of the living resources of the high seas is such that there is a clear necessity that they be solved, whenever possible, on the basis of international cooperation through the concerted action of all the States concerned.
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