Sustainable Fisheries: Multi-Level Approaches to a Global Problem

Simplistic or Surreptitious? Beyond the Flawed Concept(s) of IUU Fishing

Andrew Serdy

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874219.ch11

In this chapter, the author has been asked to suggest directions in which the next stage of development of international fisheries law might lead. This is no easy task because there is a clear contrast between the situation now (2010) and in the first half of the 1990s when the last major international fisheries law conference was taking place: the United Nations (UN) Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks at which the eponymous 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA; UN 1995) was negotiated. At that time, the collapse of the Atlantic cod (also known as northern cod) Gadus morhua stock off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and of the walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma in the Bering Sea Doughnut Hole was driving home the fact that the basic legal framework applicable to international fisheries under Articles 63, 64, and 116–119 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS; UN 1982) was proving inadequate to ensure the outcomes at which it was ostensibly aimed. At the risk of oversimplification of that framework, in essence it requires States participating in international fisheries to cooperate so as to maintain stocks at, or restore them to, the biomass generating the maximum sustainable yield (BMSY). Nowadays, although the fisheries are on the whole in a possibly even more precarious state than ever, it is not possible to lay this easily at the door of inadequacies in UNFSA. True, the particular circumstances of its genesis has meant that it does not cover so-called discrete high seas stocks (those which never venture into any State’s exclusive economic zone [EEZ]). Such stocks, however, are relatively few in number (Churchill and Lowe 1999) and there is another treaty that does apply to them. Usually known, after the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under whose auspices it was negotiated, as the FAO Compliance Agreement (FAO 1993), it in part duplicates UNFSA, though not necessarily in respect of boats shorter than 24 m.