The international regime governing marine fisheries
in The law of the sea
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Fish from the sea have long been an important source of food for many human communities. The degree to which this will continue depends on how well marine fisheries are managed. However, various biological and socio-economic factors mean that such management is not easy, as the beginning of this chapter explains. The chapter continues by analysing the array of treaties and soft law instruments that attempt to provide for effective fisheries conservation and management, both within and beyond national jurisdiction. This body of law includes: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; the UN Fish Stocks Agreement; the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Compliance and Port States Measures Agreements; measures adopted by regional fisheries management organisations and arrangements; various UN General Assembly resolutions, especially those concerning high seas drift-net fishing and vulnerable marine ecosystems; the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; and the FAO’s International Plans of Action, notably that on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. The chapter demonstrates that this substantial body of measures has failed to prevent the unsustainable exploitation of around one-third of all fish stocks; the adverse impact of the fishing industry on species other than fish, including dolphins, turtles and seabirds; and the damage caused by fishing gear to vulnerable and ecologically important habitats. Various reasons for this failure are suggested.

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