Institutional frameworks for fisheries governance

The institutional framework for fishery governance consists of the sets of principles rules, conditions, agreements, processes, mechanisms and organizations used for the development and management of fisheries. Its functioning and outcome are influenced by the set of ideas, values, beliefs and assumptions under which the people concerned operate. Since the 1950s, the institutional framework for fisheries has significantly changed, benefiting from a considerable evolution of mentalities and expectations and accumulation of experience.

At international level, the sets of rules are treaties, both multilateral and bilateral, and other non-binding instruments used by states. Central to these are the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. In addition, there are a large number of bilateral agreements and regional multilateral agreements which form part of the international set of rules governing fisheries. A range of other agreements not directly relating to fisheries, such as the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, have an important bearing on the governance of fisheries. For the national governance of fisheries, these sets of rules may take a number of forms, such as national legislation, local regulations or long-standing customary arrangements.

Numerous organizations have been established to implement these rules. At global level, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and UN Informal Consultative Process On the Law Of the Sea (ICP) address global fisheries issues among other responsibilities and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is competent for resolving conflict between States. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the UN specialized Agency with a global mandate for fisheries policy through its Committee on Fisheries (COFI). At regional level, a number of regional fishery bodies operate with mandates ranging from data collection and assessment to management. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have developed actively at both national and international level. At national level, specialised ministries for fisheries have been established, sometimes under ministries for agriculture or the environment. Fishers cooperatives, associations, lobbies, etc. have also developed contributing to a greater involvement of civil society in fishery governance.

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