Year

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security

Abstract

International fisheries organisations have been in existence since 1902.1 Their emergence over the years was not on the basis of a logically consistent and overall design, but on when States identified the need for international cooperation in the management of fisheries. The introduction of international fisheries organisations may therefore be characterised as piecemeal and as ad hoc responses to specific concerns such as the need to obtain the best scientific information on a fishery, the management and status of shared stocks, and cooperation between fishing States. Heightened international concerns arising from overfishing and the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activity gave impetus to the work of international fisheries organisations and led to the negotiation of international fisheries instruments built upon the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea2. The adoption of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement3 was pivotal in improving international coordination in the establishment and responsibilities of regional and subregional fisheries management organisations and arrangements.4 As international and regional fisheries organisations have evolved to address concerns, it is posited that international law has in parallel evolved in response to necessities and crises in fisheries.

Given the pace of decision-making and activity of regional fisheries organisations, it is useful at this juncture to take stock of their influence and interaction on distinct areas of international law. By doing so, one can take stock of the trends influenced by these organisations. This thesis is devoted to assessing the practice of tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and their individual and collective influence on international law. The practice of tuna RFMOs may in fact be challenging and at the same time influencing changes in the implementation of “traditional” international law precepts such as the sovereignty of a port State over its ports, the primacy of flag State jurisdiction, non-flag State enforcement on the high seas, the sovereign rights of a coastal State in exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing living resources within its exclusive economic zone, and the sources of international law.

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