International Fisheries Law

  • Valentin J Schatz and Arron N Honniball
  • Oxford Bibliographies in International Law

  • 2020

International fisheries law is a broad field of international law within which significant state practice, instruments, and relevant fora are found at the global, regional, subregional, bilateral, and national level. For the purposes of this bibliography, the analysis of international fisheries law is limited to the law governing marine capture fisheries (other fisheries law definitions may include the regulation of aquaculture or inland fisheries). This bibliography also primarily approaches fisheries law as a matter of fisheries conservation and management under the international law of the sea. The two main treaties of global application which reflect its foundational framework are the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA). As a starting point, one should consult the maritime zones established under UNCLOS and customary law, whereby the distribution of rights and obligations among the various capacities of states differs per maritime zone. As fish do not respect legal boundaries, special rules of international law that emphasize cooperation and management between states must be adopted and adapted for shared fish stocks such as transboundary fish stocks, straddling fish stocks, and highly migratory fish stocks. In addition, various treaties of global application dealing with specific issues exist, such as the 1993 Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (Compliance Agreement) and, most recently, the 2009 Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA). This global treaty framework is complemented by various global non–legally binding instruments, most of which were adopted under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). On the regional level, countless multilateral and bilateral fisheries treaties have been concluded, and the field remains highly dynamic. Notably, many fisheries are nowadays managed by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and Arrangements (RFMO/As) or bilateral fisheries commissions. As a thematically defined field of law, international fisheries law is not restricted to the rules governing conservation and management of marine fisheries, but may equally raise, among other issues, questions of general international law of the sea such as jurisdiction and maritime law enforcement operations, international environmental law, international trade law, international human rights law, and international dispute settlement.

More information