Chapter 7 Fisheries and Areas beyond National Jurisdiction: Advancing and Enhancing Cooperation

In: New Knowledge and Changing Circumstances in the Law of the Sea
Richard Barnes
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This Chapter advocates how the proposed agreement for areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ agreement) could advance and improve international fisheries management. Although the question of inclusion of fisheries in the agreement is a political one, inclusion is desirable from a conservation perspective. Arguably, existing legal rules and institutions also support inclusion. Given the importance of addressing the impact of fishing on biodiversity in ABNJ, I argue that we should focus less on why, and more on how the proposed agreement can address fisheries. As a review of the negotiation process shows, there are some indications of how fisheries can be included, at least indirectly. However, there are also some potential impediments to be overcome. Political objections aside, the main impediment is that the proposed agreement “should not undermine existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies”. This is a significant impediment because in fisheries management existing regimes have developed well-established, if not comprehensive, mandates. I propose three ways of addressing concerns that mandates could be undermined: conflicts and compatibility clauses, the careful use of general principles, and developing mechanisms for enhanced cooperation. Each contributes to a more integrated governance regime without threatening existing mandates and institutions.

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