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“The Working Party concluded that many terms and concepts were used in fisheries management. Often these terms mean different things to different people. When this happens time is wasted in a preoccupation with the terms and concepts rather than a direct address of the issues” (Harden Jones, 1994).


The period since the Second World War has not only seen the increasing impact of human activities on a domain, the ocean, once thought impervious to such activities but, especially over the last two decades, a progressive development of our perception of oceanic processes as they affect man and living resources. A specialized vocabulary is evolving to deal with these issues, and some key terms are given here for those interested. The text as presented borrows freely from two other sources such as Dawson (1980), Harden Jones, (1994) and Gough and Kenchington (1995), to whom the reader is referred for more specialized fisheries vocabulary.

Age class:

All of the fish in a stock that are of a particular age, such as all of the 3-year olds (An age class is often referred to as a cohort, and the new age class enterring the fishable population in a given year are referred to as the recruits).

Artisanal Fisheries:

Small scale fisheries which on a global scale provide employment to many fishers, involve a modest capitalization per head, and provide fish largely for consumption (as opposed to reduction to meal and oil).


Biodiversity, or biological diversity, refers to the variety of life on earth. Three levels of biological organisation, genetic, species and ecosystem, are reflected in a widely used hierarchical three-tiered description of biological diversity” (Working Party on the Conservation of Biodiversity as it relates to Ecologically Sustainable Development). A slightly different definition is found in UN (1994), which also includes a brief section on definitions.


The total weight of all the fish in a stock or other group, added together (Gough and Kenchington, 1995)

Coastal Zone:

A definition developed by CSIRO is as follows: “the coastal zone extends seawards to 12 nautical miles offshore or to the 100 meter (sic) depth isopleth, whichever is the furthest from shore (except where overriding legislation is involved), and extends landwards to include all coastal lands, at least to the limit of those local government areas adjoining tidal waters”.

Common Property:

“Common property resources refer to resources held or used by all who choose to do so. The term is often used synonymously with “open access resources”. A resource is common property when it is not or cannot be owned or used by an individual or individual-like entity to the exclusion of others” (Dawson, 1980).


“The commonwealth; the body politic” (Dr. Johnson's Dictionary).

“In ecology any naturally occurring group of different organisms sharing a particular habitat interacting with each other particularly through relationships while being relatively independent of other groups” (Gilpin 1976). “A biotic community is any assemblage of populations living in a prescribed area of physical habitat; it is an organised unit to the extent that it has characteristics additional to its individual and population components … and functions as a unit through coupled metabolic transformations. It is the living part of the ecosystem” (Odum, 1971).


Experience with applying multispecies models in fishery management to date have been very limited and the problems encountered are of great complexity and constitute the present frontier in fisheries science, so that the application of these principles in management must be to some extent empirical. The immediate way forward in practical terms appears to be to recognize that areas of great biotic complexity or ‘interconnectedness’, such as coastal wetlands, coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangrove forests, need to be protected, not only because of their importance for habitat stabilization and storm protection, but because these and other habitats, such as estuaries, lagoons and narrow straits, are critical habitats or points of passage in the migration of some marine resources and, as such, need protection. It is precisely because of the complexity of marine systems and the difficulty of investigating and separating actions and reactions, that classical ‘impact assessment’ procedures have been less than successful, and this has led to the concept of the “precautionary approach” as applied to new human activities in the marine environment.


“The act of preserving; care to keep from perishing; continuance; protection” (Dr. Johnson's Dictionary).

“Conservation has been legally defined as the process of reaching a defined state of the resource (United Nations, 1958). An expansion of the definition has been proposed by Holt and Talbot (1978); conservation is seen as a component of management which, taking current and future values of the resources into consideration, regulates use to maintain the resource system in “desirable states”. It is then necessary to identify what the specific “desirable states” are. Conservation is often confused with preservation in its strictest sense, i.e. that of maintaining a pristine environment or non-utilisation of a resource. Rather it is preservation in the sense of preserving for future yields (Dawson, 1980).

“The management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations. Thus conservation is positive, embracing preservation, maintenance, sustained utilisation, restoration, and enhancement of the natural environment” (IUCN, 1980).

“In an ecosystem context, any approach to conservation needs to take into account the effects of fishing on not only the target species, but also dependent and related species. The group agreed that while there is a need to begin development of appropriate approaches to the conservation of ecosystems, the priority for completing this task is lower than for finfish stocks” (CCAMLR, 1988)

“In the fisheries context a precautionary approach to conservation would be to adjust fishing mortality (through input and output controls) so that the spawning biomass, and thus the population or stock fecundity of the species or species-group of interest, did not fall below the level normally associated with an average of interest, did not fall below the level normally associated with an average of interest, did not fall below the level normally associated with an average recruitment (and thus a year-class of medium strength) under average conditions for survival”. (Harden Jones, 1994).

Developed Fishery:

“A fishery operating at or near the level consistent with ecologically sustainable development and in accordance with a management plan” (from Harden Jones, 1994).

Developing Fishery:

“A fishery in which experimental or feasibility fishing is being undertaken to determine whether the resource can support a viable fishery consistent with ecologically sustainable development” (Harden Jones, 1994).


“The modification of the biosphere and the application of human, financial living and non-living resources to satisfy human needs and improve the quality of human life.”

“In the context of ecologically sustainable development, progress towards desirable results rather than growth itself.”

Develop/development and grow/growth have very different meanings: In Harden Jones (1994) these are distinguished: "to grow means to increase naturally in size through the addition of material through assimilation or accretion. To develop means to expand or realise the potentialities of; bring gradually to a fuller, greater or better state. In short, growth is quantitative increase in physical scale while development is qualitative improvement or unfolding of potentiality. An economy can grow without developing, or develop without growing, or both, or neither".


“Discards or discard catch refers to part of the gross catch not used in any way but is thrown back into the waters as whole fish or whole organisms (in the case of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles or mammals). This phrase is not to be confused with offal from the retained catch, which might also be thrown overboard. The term by-catch is used herein to define that part of the gross catch which is captured incidentally to the species towards which there is directed effort. Some, all or none of the by-catch may become the discard catch”(Saila, 1983).


Diversity indices are measures of evenness (variances of species' abundance distributions) and, in some cases, richness (the number of species in a system); they are therefore indifferent to species substitutions which may, however, reflect ecosystem stresses (such as may be due to high fishing intensity). The relative values of various diversity indices is still a matter of current ecological debate, since some perhaps give too much weight to dominant species, and others, likewise, to the presence of possibly occasional species in an ecosystem.

Indices based on the number of species in a given ecosystem may satisfactorily measure biodiversity (usually meaning the number of species in a given ecosystem), whereas those based on species' abundances may measure genetic diversity better. As our capacity to sample, to manage, and to develop sustainably, marine (and other) resources increases, the required effective measures of ecological, biological and genetic diversity will emerge as sharper management tools than they are at present.

Equilibrium yield:

The yield or catch that would in theory be taken every year by a certain amount of fishing effort, if the effort was kept steady year after year until the stock was “in balance” or “at equilibrium” with the total fishing effort exerted by the fleet. (We may note that this definition, although mathematically feasible and widely used by fish population scientists, in practise represents a dangerous concept: neither environment, recruitment or fishing effort are in equilibrium or at a "Steady State" as simple population theory would suggest. It may be precisely this assumption that leads to unprecautionary fisheries management!).


Originally used in salmon fisheries, but progressively more widely for other resources, to mean that percentage of fish which escape the fishery to reach the spawning grounds (i.e. the spawning stock).

Fishing effort:

The amount of fishing (often expressed on an annual basis) in units of (usually) boat days on the ground, or even in more detailed units such as number of trap hauls, or trawl hauls. Effort levels may be nominal: reflecting the simple total of effort units exerted on a stock in a given time period, or may be calibrated. For purposes of stock assessment, an attempt is usually made to calibrate effort so that it measures the pressure exerted on the stocks, in which case it may be referred to as fishing intensity. Hence an attempt is made to determine the fishing power of units in the fleet by looking at their relative CPUE (catch per unit of effort) in order to determine their relative impact on the stock.

The fishing effort, after ‘fishing power calibration’ may be expressed in ‘standard units’ summed over all types of fishing gear/boat types fishing the stock; these standard units are equivalent to a certain rate of fishing mortality, which latter is the fundemental quantity that fisheries managers need to control. We may note that hidden increases in fishing power due to technological improvements (radar, depth sounders, increased fishermen skills as well as improved gear and horse power/capacity of vessels all can increase fishing mortality rate by increasing the fishing power, even if the nominal fishing effort level remains constant).

Ghost Fishing:

The accidental and random capture of aquatic species by fish netting (usually gill netting) that has been lost or thrown into the sea, usually by fishermen, and which floats and is transported by the currents. Such captures leads to needless destruction of marine fishes, mammals, birds and turtles, in particular.


The concept that oceanic processes are directly coupled with short and long-term changes in the atmosphere makes the linkage between meteorology and oceanography a scientific frontier that requires priority attention before global modelling of living systems, climate change etc., can make major progress, and before forecasting of fishery yields, tsunamis, mariner's weather forecasts etc. can be improved.

With respect to the ‘Theory of Fishing’ as it applies to marine fisheries, the late 1970s and the 1980s have seen dramatic changes in perception, with a decline in reliance on stable-equilibrium, single-species approaches, in which factors intrinsic to the population (such as spawning stock size), were given precedence over a consideration of multispecies interactions in the context of a variable environment. The major priority remains, namely, how to exert controls on fishing effort or on access to resources with finite capacity to support exploitation, but it is clear that calculations of sustainable yield need to take into account linkages within the food web and the impacts of heavy fishing on other components than those harvested.

The importance of interconnectedness is evident in other respects also. Thus, the need for closer integration of research in oceanography, marine living resources, economics and sociology of coastal communities, and the broad range of human activities located in the coastal zone, and an interdisciplinary approach to research. A parallel interconnectedness is needed between government departments concerned with marine affairs and, at an international level, between UN and non-governmental agencies.


The environment in which the fish live. It includes everything that surrounds and affects its life: the temperature and depth of water, and kind of seabed. The term can even be extended to include the local food supply, predators and polluting effects. (A fishery is not usually thought of as part of a fish's habitat however).

Maximum Economic Yield (MEY):

“The sustainable yield for a particular stock that, in theory, should give the greatest difference between the value of the fish and the cost of catching them; that is, the best profits” (Gough and Kenchington, 1995).

Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY):

The greatest sustainable yield for a particular stock. In theory, this catch will be sustainable year after year. (Gough and Kenchington, 1995).

It should be noted that MSY occurs at a higher level of fishing mortality than MEY, and despite being the only technical reference point mentioned in the 1982 Convention for the Law of the Sea, is no longer considered a safe target for management for two main reasons: because it is not optimal in economic terms, and because overshoots inevitably occur which are difficult to reverse (Caddy and Mahon, in press).


The death of fish. The proportion of the fish dying each year is called the “mortality rate”. Scientists express mortality as an exponential rate (see Gulland 1983 for an example): The instantaneous rate is typically referred to by the symbol Z, and scientists attempt to split this overall rate into deaths caused by fishing (F) and all the rest (largely deaths due to predation by other fish or disease (M).


This term is generally used to mean the inorganic ions in sea water essential for maintaining the productivity of phytoplankton. The two most important and commonest ones are nitrate and phosphate, although other related ones (e.g. nitrite and ammonium) play some part. Silicate and carbonate are often considered to be nutrients, although their role is mainly in skeleton formation of certain phytoplankton (and microzooplankton) groups. From the point of view of sustainable development, our understanding of the relationship between the amount of each nutrient in the sea water and the productivity of that sea water remains poor, except perhaps at the limits: nitrate and phosphate in too low concentrations prevent phytoplankton production; and in great excess, likewise, but for other physiological and biochemical reasons. In between, their abundance leads to eutrophication, which is discussed in some detail in the present paper, and which is generally regarded as prejudicial to satisfactory resource exploitation and management. It is moreover significant that, although phytoplankton blooms are usually associated with eutrophication (and particularly with high phosphate levels), they also occur in certain times and places in which phosphate levels are very low. It is not possible, with our present understanding, to decide what optimum concentrations might be at a given time and place.


This means catching such a high proportion of one or all age classes in a fishery as to reduce the stock's biomass, spawning potential and future catches, to below safe levels.

Precautionary approach:

In cases of high uncertainty about critical areas or species, in particular, and to avoid potentially irreversible changes, the precautionary principle has been advocated in recent years to make development conditional upon scientific proof of its harmlessness. The uncontrolled widespread application of such an approach may, however, conflict with food security considerations.

The precautionary approach to regulating the impact of man's activities on natural systems has been adopted in situations where toxic materials are introduced into the marine environment, and is clearly appropriate under circumstances in which the impact of a particular action is clear-cut, or at least is unlikely to have any positive aspects. However, this approach has also been suggested as providing criteria for deciding whether or not, before starting a new fishery, the fishery or type of fishing method used is likely to have damaging effects on ecosystems or on particular species of catch or by-catch, notably, in the latter case, marine mammals and turtles. The validity of applying the principle needs to be considered carefully on a case-by-case basis, and compared with the main alternative strategy: pilot-scale fishing trials at a low level of removal, with scientific observers aboard the fishing vessel.


Understanding of ocean productivity has been revolutionized by increased knowledge of the role of microplankton, dissolved organic substances and marine bacteria, including the discovery of an alternative source of bacterial synthesis of organic molecules along the mid-ocean ridges. Perhaps of most relevance to sustainable development is the fact that the productivity of most oceanic environments is severely limited by nutrients, trace elements and certain organic compounds; hence our growing realization of the importance of the role of near-shore environments, including the intertidal and supralittoral zones (marshes and wetlands) and riverine inputs, where these substances are generated or run off into coastal waters, in the production of commercial fish species of the continental shelf. The importance of near-shore productivity, especially in the tropics, is only now being translated into a greater concern with the maintenance of these critical habitats, and with the control of the discharge of excess quantities of such substances into coastal waters, where they may produce serious negative effects on the sustainable use of near shore environments and resources. Productivity in phytoplankton is a measure of the amount of carbon in the sea water that is converted into living matter in a given volume of that water in a given amount of time (usually measured as milligrammes of chlorophyll a and converted, on the basis of experimental evidence, to mg carbon/m3/day). Although this parameter of productivity has been long accepted, it retains many unsatisfactory features, notably that it cannot be measured in situ ex vitro. Moreover, the patchiness of phytoplankton, still poorly assessed in the sea, continues to cast doubt on the usefulness of point values. However, our understanding of the mechanisms by which phytoplankters dispose the several forms of chlorophyll and other photosynthetic pigments in their cells so as to be able to extract the maximum amount of energy from the actual light spectrum available in situ has also increased considerably in recent years; it significantly qualifies the meaning of simple productivity measurements even if carried out in vitro in situ.

The term production is often used to mean simply the biomass generated by the population or ecosystem; it is commonly measured as an amount of carbon in living tissue in the water column under a given area of sea surface (usually measured as grammes of chlorophyll a, for phytoplankton, or grammes of wet or dry weight, for zooplankton etc., and converted, also on the basis of experimental evidence, to g C/m2; since only the mass of the organisms is of interest, the actual volume of sea occupied is, for such purposes, usually irrelevant). For phytoplankton and, effectively, most of the zooplankton, however, the water column ends at the bottom of the photic zone (that in which enough sunlight penetrates for phytosynthesis to occur). The term production is also used more loosely, in fisheries, to mean the catch delivered for human use, or, in fish processing, the amount of product, both for a specified period of time (e.g. year).


The fact that oceanic environments, their variability and natural fluctuations in resource affect man and his activities has long been recognized. The reverse is now also proving to be the case, with human impacts becoming ever more evident. Likewise, although it has always been clear that the environment affects the biota, the impact that can be caused by exotic organisms introduced into an environment, or explosions in the abundance of native species, such as the crown-of-thorns starfish, can also affect the physical environment.


An area where fishing is not allowed, or a consequence of a particular exploitation pattern or method which allows escapement or survival of critical life history stages.


Pollution and fishing lead to qualitative and quantitative changes, particularly in semi-enclosed aquatic systems that are an inevitable consequence of human interference. To meet the requirements for sustainable development as specified below, it is essential to ask whether the system would be able to return to some predefined ‘original state’ if this stress were removed; if, for example, future generations decided to use aquatic systems in some completely different fashion. The question of whether a return to some ‘original state’ is realistic is a controversial one. Natural systems are subject to evolutionary pressures, including extinctions, although these are usually considered to occur on an evolutionary time scale. One might note that overfishing has resulted in relatively few species extinctions in the open marine environment, although, particularly in combination with environmental change, it has been implicated in major changes in species dominance and has particularly serious effects on long-lived species and those with limited areas of critical habitat. Environmental impacts of man, if pronounced, particularly on limited areas of critical or semi-enclosed seas, may provoke more serious long-term effects than ‘commercial extinction’: the fate of species fished to a level where commercial returns are too low to justify an aimed fishery. For example, high seas overfishing of salmon can reduce populations to a low level, but obstruction of the home estuary would render the population extinct.


As noted above, the oceans are far from being a homogeneous environment, and a better appreciation of the different time and space scales for various processes appears essential for understanding interconnectedness (see herebelow). Scales may vary from microscale, in seconds and micromillimetres, for understanding the production of phytoplankton and bacteria, to days and 100s of kilometres, for fish recruitment, to years and thousands of kilometres for the Southern Oscillation (encompassing the entire equatorial and South Pacific). This latter, for example, explains the interconnectedness of the El Niño upwelling phenomenon off Peru (which drives the single largest production system for pelagic fish) and drought cycles in Australia. This perception has led to renewed emphasis on incorporation of spatial elements into a synthesis in which geographical information is the key to defining sensitive marine areas and critical habitats, and setting priorities for their appropriate use. The multiple use aspect of marine environments proves to be a major problem here and has led, in the case of coastal zones, to mapping the distribution of human activities and to the application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to these areas: an application that needs to be extended farther offshore.

Stability and Variability:

In the aquatic environment, sustainability does not necessarily imply constancy: thus, the overall yield may not change markedly as fishing becomes intense, but the relative abundance of species will change, generally in the direction of promoting short-lived species at the expense of longer-lived species. Stability is a reflexion of the ability of all the characteristic variables of a population/ecosystem to return to initial equilibrium values following a disturbance that displaces that equilibrium. (The system is locally stable if the return is in response to local perturbations, and globally stable if it is in response to all possible perturbations; perturbations with a negative effect constitute stress, whereas those with a positive effect constitute subsidy).

Particularly since the 1960s, short-term variations in resource abundance due to environmental fluctuations are recognized as important for assessment and management. These variations are a source of uncertainty and cost to fishery management authorities and industry and can lead to optimistic fleet expansions during good years that result in overfishing, overcapitalization and underemployment in subsequent average-to-poor years. Ideally, annual changes in abundance should be predicted, which still requires combining environmental analysis with resource abundance data from surveys and fishery statistical systems, but the ability to make good predictions, even 1–2 years in advance, has so far proved possible for only a few resources.

The effects of natural climatic fluctuations on living marine resources have also long been appreciated, as has the need to control the type and amount of fishing, but the modification of the theory of fishing, first developed between the two World Wars to take into account the effects of natural environmental change on the productivity of stocks, has been much more recent and still continues. For example, only recently has the extent to which human activities other than fishing may affect marine resources and their optimal usage been appreciated.


A population of fish of one species taken as a whole. It may refer to a genetically isolated population, but more usually in stock assessment, refers to in operational terms, to the population of a species found in a given area, which can effectively be managed as a unit.


Human impacts on living marine resources are perceived to be no longer confined to the effects of fishing, but also to include active effects on the environment within which fisheries take place, in addition to the effects of climate. The problem is fundamentally a methodological one, that of distinguishing between two types of causes that have been largely synchronous in their effect on marine systems; namely, the development of industrial fishing capacity, particularly since the Second World War, and the largely synchronous development of the industrial-agricultural complex and its downstream effects on aquatic, including coastal marine, ecosystems. Together with population growth and littoralization (in particular, the development of coastal resorts and international tourism), these factors all affect coastal aquatic environments, directly or indirectly, and have shown a degree of synchrony in their development that makes a separation of their effects difficult.

One approach that seems to offer an insight is to regard most excessive human impacts as different forms of stress on the aquatic system: thus, pollution and overfishing both show parallels, notably a reduction in complexity of the ecosystems involved, reduced efficiency of nutrient cycling, increased amplitude of population fluctuations and, often, a replacement of large, long-lived species by smaller, short-lived species.

Trace elements:

These are elements (such as iron, copper and zinc) present in trace quantities in sea water which are essential for the effective functioning of many physiological and biochemical processes, hence for growth, reproduction etc. The relationship between trace elements and nutrients in promoting or restraining growth in phytoplankton is still poorly understood and impedes our understanding of production and productivity.



CARPASComission Asesora Regional de Pesca para el Atlantico Sudoccidental
CCAMLRCommission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
CECAFCommittee for Eastern Central Atlantic Fisheries
CEPTFACouncil of the Eastern Pacific Tuna Fishing Agreement
CEUCommission of the European Union
CITESConvention on International Trade in Exotic Species
COFICommittee on Fisheries (of FAO)
CPPSComision Permanente del Pacifico Sur
DMSPDimethylsulphonium propionate
DOALOSDivision of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea Office (of UN)
EEZExclusive Economic Zone
ENSOEl Niñ-Southern Oscillation
ESCAPEconomic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
EUEuropean Union
FAOFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FFAFisheries Forum Agency
GEMSGlobal Environment Monitoring System
GESAMPJoint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (of IMO-FAO-UNESCO-WMO-WHO-IAEA-UN-UNEP)
GFCMGeneral Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (of FAO)
GIPMEGlobal Investigation of Pollution in the Marine Environment (of IOC-UNEP)
GISGeographic Information System
GLOSSGlobal Sea-Level Observing System (of IOC)
GOOSGlobal Ocean Observing System (of IOC)
HABHarmful Algal Blooms (of OSLR of IOC-FAO)
HISMAHigh Seas Management Authority
IAEAInternational Atomic Energy Agency (of UN)
IATTCInter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
IBSFCInternational Baltic Sea Fishery Commission
ICCATInternational Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna
ICESInternational Council for the Exploration of the Sea
ICLARMInternational Centre for Living Aquatic Resource Management
ICSEAFInternational Commission for the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries
ICSEMInternational Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea
ICSPROInter-secretariat Committee on Scientific Problems Relating to Oceanography (of UNESCO-FAO-IMO-WMO-UN)
ICSUInternational Council of Scientific Unions
ICZMIntegrated Coastal Zone Management
IGBPInternational Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (of ICSU)
IGOSSIntegrated Global Ocean Services System (of IOC-WMO)
IMOInternational Maritime Organization
INPFCInternational North Pacific Fisheries Commission
IOCIntergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (of UNESCO)
IOFCIndian Ocean Fishery Commission (of FAO)
IPCCIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (of WMO-UNEP)
IPFCIndo-Pacific Fishery Commission (of FAO)
IPHCInternational Pacific Halibut Commission
IREPInternational Recruitment Programme (of OSLR of IOC-FAO)
IUCNWorld Wildlife Conservation Organization (formerly International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)
IWCInternational Whaling Commission
JKFCJapan-Republic of Korea Joint Fisheries Commission
JSFCJapan-Soviet Northwest Pacific Fisheries Commission
LMELarge Marine Ecosystem
MABMan and the Biosphere Programme (of UNESCO)
MAFFMinistry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (UK)
MARPOLInternational Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
MBPMaximum Biological Production
MCBMarine Catchment Basin
MCBSFMixed Commission for Black Sea Fisheries
MCSMonitoring, Control and Surveillance
MEYMaximum Economic Yield
MSYMaximum Sustainable Yield
NAFONorth Atlantic Fisheries Organization
NASCONorth Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization
NEAFCNortheast Atlantic Fisheries Commission
NGONon-Governmental Organization
OAPOOrganizacion Atunera del Pacifico Oriental
OCAPACOceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Centre (of UNEP)
ODASOcean Data Acquisition Systems and Devices (of IMO-IOC)
OECSOrganization of Eastern Caribbean States
OLDEPESCAOrganizacion Latinoamericana de Desarrollo de la Pesca
OSLROcean Science in Relation to Living Resources (of IOC-FAO)
OTECOcean Thermal Energy Conversion
PCBPolychlorinated Biphenyl
PICESNorth Pacific Marine Science Organization
PSCPacific Salmon Commission
SARPSardine-Anchovy Recruitment Project (of OSLR of IOC-FAO)
SEAFDECSoutheast Asian Fisheries Development Center
SPCSouth Pacific Commission
TACTotal Allowable Catch
TCDCTechnical Co-operation amongst Developing Countries
TEMATraining, Education and Mutual Assistance in the Marine Sciences (of IOC)
TRODERPTropical Demersal Recruitment Project (of OSLR of IOC-FAO)
TURFTerritorial User Rights of Fishermen
UNUnited Nations
UNCEDUnited Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNCLOSUnited Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea
UNDPUnited Nations Development Programme
UNEPUnited Nations Environment Programme
UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
URIUniversity of Rhode Island (USA)
WBWorld Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development)
WCRPWorld Climate Research Programme (of ICSU-WMO)
WECAFCWestern Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (of FAO)
WHOWorld Health Organization
WMOWorld Meteorological Organization
WWFWorld Wildlife Fund for Nature




The following summaries provide some background information on the roles of key organizations and fishing commissions working in relation to some aspect of living marine resources, their environment and management. For further detailed information on the latter, the reader is referred to reports by Savini (1991) and Marashi (1993).

1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO has three major departments focussed on resources: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Within the Fisheries Department there are three main divisions: Fishery Resources; Fishery Industries; and Fishery Policy and Planning.

The Fisheries Department has always placed international focus on the development of fishery science and technology and the transfer of this knowledge to developing countries, through expert technical assistance and fishery research and development projects, the latter calling on a variety of sources of international and donor funding.

With this transfer, a growing degree of self-sufficiency and cooperation is being established in many countries of the developing world, so that, in more recent years, the Department has moved steadily forward with other forms of assistance in the management of fisheries (notably training and development programmes and the organization of intergovernmental and expert consultations).

This trend has been accentuated by the fact that, as knowledge and understanding of the management of fishery resources grew, so did the number of questions requiring an answer, and it was clear from early on that to answer them went beyond the Department's human, financial and physical resources. This is also why technical consultations have increased in number and scope, while direct technical assistance has come to rely less on major international funding, and more on greater national self-help, with the assistance of specialists made available through FAO. This trend has led, in effect, to a more widely-based approach to issues relating to fishery resources, encompassing, as far as possible, consideration of the marine resource and its relationship with environment, its response to fishing, the demand for fish and fish products, the socio-economic role of the fishery and the legal and administrative constraints on fishing, fish processing and marketing.

The FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development (Rome, 1984) marked the integration of FAO's long experience in world fisheries into an overall Strategy for Fisheries Management and Development (FAO, 1986b); the Conference also adopted a series of Programmes of Action, in which broad principles for the sustainable use and protection of marine resources and their habitat were outlined.

At its eighteenth session, in 1989, the FAO Committee on Fisheries reviewed the prospects for capture fisheries, and expressed serious concern about the growing risks and effects of environmental degradation. It urged FAO, through the above-mentioned Programmes of Action, to give higher priority to the monitoring and prevention of environmental degradation in the context of fisheries and aquaculture, and to promote international collaboration to this end. The Organization was also instructed to contribute actively to promoting international agreements on biological/genetic diversity, fisheries and other environmental matters.

The FAO Conference (Rome, 1989), at its twenty-fifth session, decided that the Organization should intensify its inter-disciplinary work so as to integrate environmental considerations into all relevant FAO activities, and give higher priority to the prevention of environmental degradation affecting agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as a result of inappropriate activities in these sectors. The Conference also decided that FAO should strengthen its co-operation with other organizations of the UN System in these fields.

The recommendations of the UN Conference on Environment and Development relevant to fisheries (see section 7.3, above) were incorporated into FAO's Medium-term Programme in Fisheries (1994–1995) by the Committee on Fisheries at its twentieth session (Rome, March 1993), and are summarized in FAO (1992b, 1993g). More recently (See text) emphasis has been placed on development of an International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Development.

To bring the Department's experience, knowledge and information to bear on regional fishery problems, FAO has created several regional subsidiary bodies, each of which focuses on a particular region and on particular circumstances, with greater or lesser success (depending largely on Member State interest in each region). These bodies are briefly discussed below; the date in parenthesis after each acronym is the date of entry into force. The effectiveness of regional fishery bodies and conventions is discussed in section 7.5, although some of the main constraints of each FAO regional body are taken up in the present section.

1.1 FAO regional fishery bodies

The General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM; 1952) is concerned not only with fishery development and mangement in the Mediterranean itself, but also with the fisheries of the Black Sea. Since fishery management requires national fishery policy development and application, and the necessary co-operation with other countries, the GFCM has no statutory power to impose any specific fishery management regulation in its region; it therefore emphasizes establishment of an adequate scientific basis for the recommendations on fishery management that it makes to its Member States. These recommendations are elaborated by expert technical consultations (often at a sub-regional level) and by special committees of the Council, for approval by the Council and submission to Member States (presently, all the countries of the region except those of the former Soviet Union).

The Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC; 1967) covers a much vaster area, (from the Persian Gulf/India/Bay of Bengal, in the north, to the Antarctic Convergence, in the south, from the coast of eastern Africa to the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia and Australia, including Tasmania, in the east). Most of its Member States are developing countries with mainly artisanal/subsistence fisheries and, on the whole, no serious ocean-wide problems of overfishing have yet developed. However, the Indian Ocean tuna and whale resources, in particular, have been subject to high fishing pressure by vessels from countries outside the region. While the IOFC continues its efforts to deal with some important local (sub-regional) fishery problems, a separate Indian Ocean Tuna Commission is picking up work on issues particular to these resources.

The Indo-Pacific Fishery Commission (IPFC; 1948) also covers a vast area, from the eastern boundary of the IOFC (with slight overlap) to 180°W, but only north to 45°N. The IPFC's main concern is the development of the fisheries of the large number of small island States (notably, Indonesia, the Philippines, Fiji, Western Samoa, Kiribatu, Tonga and many others). The predominance of Japanese fisheries and the appreciable Russian, Korean and Taiwanese fisheries in this area are also an important concern of the IPFC.

There is no FAO regional fishery body in the eastern Pacific, mainly because there are other, non-FAO, sub-regional fishery bodies well established and active there (see 7. below).

The Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC; 1973) has to deal primarily with the development of fisheries in the small island countries of the Caribbean region. It is younger than the aforementioned FAO regional bodies and still has to build up experience of the Member States to use it as a fishery development and management mechanism. The problems of coordination are not helped by the strong polarities in the region, notably those opposing relatively large continental countries and relatively small island countries, and, likewise, Spanish, French-, Dutch to English-speaking traditions contribute to a rich cultural heritage, and lead to subgroupings of countries with common backgrounds, but also contribute to the fragmentation of international co-operation in this region, where international communication systems are still relatively poorly developed, is common in a number of fields unrelated to fisheries. Moreover, the fishery resources themselves are also often fragmented, with stocks sometimes being limited to single islands.

The Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF; 1967) covers the Atlantic from approximately 40°W to the African coast between the Strait of Gibraltar (about 36°N) and Gabon (about 6°S). Its particular problem is the mix of inshore artisanal/subsistence fisheries, on the one hand, and the large-scale offshore pelagic fisheries (notably for sardine), mainly off the coasts of Mauritania and Morocco, and the Gulf of Guinea trawl (demersal) fishery, on the other hand. Once again, the great range of problems and circumstances of the component fisheries makes a single (i.e., sub-regional or regional) fishery development and management approach difficult to implement, although considerable progress has been made in this direction.

FAO also has three important and relatively successful inland regional fishery bodies (the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission; the Committee on Inland Fisheries of Africa; and the Comité de Pesca para América Latina).

Regarding co-operation with other UN bodies, with respect to living marine resources, FAO collaborates particularly with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (of UNESCO; see section 2) in a programme of Ocean Science in Relation to Living Resources (OSLR). Among the objectives of this programme is the study, through international co-operation, of the mechanisms of recruitment in fish populations (International Recruitment Programme - IREP); particular attention has so far been given to recruitment in sardine-anchovy systems (Sardine-Anchovy Recruitment Project - SARP) since these two types of pelagic fish usually co-exist and interact closely with each other, and to recruitment in tropical demersal communities (Tropical Demersal Recruitment Project -TRODERP). Another main objective of OSLR is the study of algal blooms, their genesis and their role in coastal pelagic ecosystems (Harmful Algal Blooms - HAB). These projects have since been consolidated under one element of OSLR: Ecosystem Dynamics and Living Resources; the other being Support to the Global Ocean Observing System (see section 2).

FAO also collaborated closely with the UN Environment Programme in the development of a Marine Mammal Action Plan. (See also section 3.1).

2. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (of UNESCO) plays a key role in defining the physical, chemical and biological factors underlying marine resource use, and in promoting international co-operative investigation and data collection on marine resources and environment. It also promotes Training, Education and Mutual Assistance in the Marine Sciences (TEMA) in oceanography and marine biology. The IOC provides a context for improving understanding of the links between the oceans and climate, and between the oceanic environment and the biological components supporting food chains leading to fisheries, through its efforts to develop a Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), to which the now well established International Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS) and the Global Sea-level Observing System (GLOSS) are the present mainstays. WMO is participating actively in the development of GOOS, as it already does in IGOSS. IOCs Global Investigation of Pollution in the Marine Environment (GIPME), in which UNEP, IMO, IAEA and FAO also participate, concentrates on chemical pollution, but is nevertheless relevant to the sustainable development of marine resources because of the effects of pollutants on marine organisms.

The IOCs International Bathymetric Charts (as well as the longstanding General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans), being prepared on a regional basis, are also relevant, because of the role of coastal water characteristics in determining overall limits to biological productivity. A long-term view of IOC's work in the context of sustainable development is given in IOC (1991).

3. United Nations (UN)

The UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) played a key role in focussing the awareness of the international community on the role of the human race in the modification of the environment. The Conference set out (Principles 7 and 21) “a general obligation for states to preserve the marine environment”. A great many subsequent legislative actions may be traced back to this recommendation.

The second major UN international consultation particularly relevant to the scope of the present document, was the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which provided the necessary legal framework for progress in management of most marine resources; this framework was the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has been referred throughout this paper. In a comprehensive manner, this calls on each coastal State to promote the objective of optimal utilization of the living resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in the pursuit of its right to determine the allowable catch of the living resources therein. The significance of the Convention for rational fishery management, hence sustainable development, is given in more detail in Annex IV.

A major milestone in rational use of living resources was the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio in 1992, where the Convention on Biological Diversity (UN 1994, see Annex VIII) was opened for signature, and entered into force on 29 December 1992. This covers the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and equitable sharing of benefits from genetic resources. In that it provides safeguards for local and traditional uses of these resources, it has obvious fisheries implications, especially with regard to the conservation of critical habitats and endangered species.

More recently, another major United Nations Conference has been underway in New York on “Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks”, which has been addressing those issues not fully covered by the 1982 Convention relating to resources that lie across the boundary between Exclusive Economic Zones and the high seas, or migrate through multiple jurisdictions. The conclusions of this Conference are not finalized at the time of writing, but together with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries being developed by FAO, promise to provide a strong framework for fisheries management in the future.

3.1 UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Although the scope of this Programme is far wider than that of fishery development, one of its main concerns is the state of the marine environment and the impact of human activities on them and on their resources, including therefore fishery resources. The Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Centre (OCAPAC) is UNEP's main instrument for meeting this concern. It covers the ocean environment for the UNEP Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS). OCAPAC works closely with the other UN intergovernmental bodies, notably with FAO and IOC, and major non-governmental bodies concerned with ocean affairs, generally in the context of the ten UNEP Regional Seas Action Plans.

On the basis of existing agreements aimed at preventing marine pollution from land-based sources, in 1985 UNEP prepared the Montreal Guidelines, which are basicallya non-binding checklist of basic provisions that governments may select, adapt or elaborate, as appropriate, to meet the need for reducing adverse impacts on the marine environment.

3.2 UN Development Programme (UNDP)

The UN Development Programme promotes the socio-economic development of the developing countries. It does so using funds provided by the UN Member States, through national, regional and inter-regional development projects. These projects are usually of several years' duration. A small percentage of them are in the fishery sector; mostly in inland fisheries where they are associated with rural development as a whole. FAO executes or supervises such projects in the marine sphere, as do other UN Specialized Agencies, and in recent years, UNDP has broadened the base of its executing agencies, including a greater involvement of national entities and experts.

3.3 Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS)

The Office of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea was created by amalgamating the former Ocean Economics and Technology Branch with the more recent Office of the Under-Secretary-General for the Law of the Sea and was later made a Division. This Division is concerned with a wide range of ocean affairs, of a socio-economic and legal nature; notably, problems of sea-bed mineral exploration and exploitation, the follow-up of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (and the ratification of the resultant Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the harmonization of relevant national legislation in the light of the Convention, much of which was being incorporated into national law and State practice in many countries, even before the Convention comes into force (November 1994).

DOALOS also prepared guidelines for a high-seas legal framework which will be taken into account in the development, by FAO, of a Code of Conduct on Responsible Fishing called for by the Cancún Declaration (see section 7.2, above).

4. International Maritime Organization (IMO)

The IMO is concerned more or less exclusively with shipping: safety of navigation; safety (of seamen and others) at sea; protection of the marine environment from discharges of wastes, pollutants and hazardous substances from ships (including garbage-dumping vessels).

IMO is the depository and secretariat of the global London Convention which regulates the dumping into the sea of wastes and the international Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78).

IMO is also concerned with mobile offshore drilling units, the safety of fishing vessels and training of fishermen. The IOC collaborates closely with IMO in the marine pollution aspects of IMO's programme of work. More recently, IMO, through the work of its Marine Environment Protection Committee, has focussed on the definition of Sensitive Sea Areas.

5. World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

The relation of WMO to fisheries is through its marine meteorological services. Fishing vessels, suitably equipped, can receive weather and sea-state information through the Global Telecommunication System. The long-term objective is to provide all commercial shipping and fishing vessels with real-time (or near-real-time, i.e., within a few hours) information relevant to a vessel's projected track, with advice on appropriate course changes to avoid bad weather (i.e., to save fuel and perhaps time). WMO co-operates with IMO in this field.

In a much more general sense, WMO, through the WMO-ICSU World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), is concerned directly with global climate change (see section 5.10) and this provides a basis for evaluating possible long-term changes in fishery resources. UNEP and IOC participate directly in the WCRP.

6. Other UN Agencies

The activities of some other UN Agencies may have some more or less direct relation to certain aspects of fisheries.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publishes checklists of fishes and promotes marine science in general (notably, but not exclusively, through IOC; see section 2. above). The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme, among other activities of much wider scope, seeks to reveal whole ecosystem linkages and to promote the creation of marine (as well as terrestrial) biosphere reserves.

The World Health Organization (WHO) works closely with FAO, through the Codex Alimentarius, on the protection of food, including fish, from all forms of contamination and deterioration (FAO/WHO, 1993).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is particularly concerned with, inter alia, the contamination of the marine environment and organisms by radio-active substances in the sea.

In co-operation with European Investment Bank and in consultation with other UN Agencies, the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known informally as the World Bank - WB) unveiled in 1990 a new, more environmentally-conscious approach to investment in marine resource development. An example of this approach is the Environmental Programme for the Mediterranean, an action-oriented programme that incorporates the development of environmental awareness in investment projects for the region. Likewise, the World Bank, with the co-operation of FAO, UNDP and CEC, also carried out the Study of International Fishery Research Needs, which has been referred to earlier (see section 6, above).

7. Inter-Agency Co-operation

Several examples have already been given in the foregoing sections, on inter-agency co-operation. This co-operation is generally on a programme basis and sometimes at the regional level through their regional subsidiary bodies. Therè are, however, two principal mechanisms for more general inter-agency co-operation.

The UNESCO-FAO-IMO-WMO-UN Inter-Secretariat Committee on Scientific Programmes Relating to Oceanography (ICSPRO), to meetings of which UNEP and IAEA have nearly always sent active observers, is a mechanism for exchanging information on agency programmes of mutual interest and, as far as possible, for improving co-operation and for co-ordinating actions.

The IMO/FAO/UNESCO-WMO/WMO/IAEA-UN/UNEP Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution(GESAMP) produces, inter alia, overview reports on the state of the marine environment, such as those published in 1982 (GESAMP, 1982) and 1990 (GESAMP, 1990).

8. Some non-UN, International Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played a key role in developing environmental awareness with respect to marine resource and environmental issues. They are too numerous to deal with individually; however, the former International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), now formally titled World Wildlife Conservation Organization (with the same acronym, however), can be mentioned as having played a key role outside the UN system. Its World Conservation Strategy (IUCN-UNEP-WWF, 1980) drew the world community's attention to the urgent need for action to conserve habitats and resources. The Strategy has been particularly influential in promoting the concept of sustainable development.

9. Non-UN Regional Bodies

There are numerous other regional fishery bodies, some being concerned with a particular species or groups of species, others being concerned with fisheries in a particular region. They all have similar general purposes: to assist their members to manage fisheries for which they have been mandated and to provide advice on fishery development in the regions for which they have responsibility. Some have statutory powers, others have only advisory powers. Some may also assist their Member State fishery institutions in such fields as gear development, fishery training, fish-product development, improvement of fishery statistics, and the evaluation of resources (Savini, 1991).

The best known (and the list is far from being exhaustive) are (with the acronym and location of the Secretariat, if known, in parenthesis) given in the following three sub-sections.

9.1 Bodies with regional responsibilities

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO, Dartmouth, NS, Canada); the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC, London, UK); the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission (IBSFC, Warsaw, Poland); the Mixed Commission for Black Sea Fisheries (MCBSF, the location of the Secretariat is in the current Chairman's home country and changes frequently); the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission (INPFC, Vancouver, BC, Canada); the Eastern Pacific Tuna Fishing Organization (OAPO, from Organización Atunera del Pacífico Oriental, not yet in force); the Council of the Eastern Pacific Tuna Fishing Agreement (CEPTFA, not yet in force); the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Fisheries Commission (JKFC; no Secretariat); the Japan-Soviet Northwest Pacific Fisheries Commission (JSFC, no Secretariat); the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS, from Comisión Permanente del Pacífico Sur, Santiago, Chile; in fact, CPPS covers the southeast Pacific only, and all forms of maritime wealth, including fisheries, although the latter are important); the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA, Hoiniara, Solomon Islands); the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; CCAMLR has somewhat broader responsibilities than those strictly required for fisheries).

9.2 Bodies responsible for particular species

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC, La Jolla, California, USA; the IATTC covers the eastern Pacific and concerns itself also with billfish fisheries); the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT, Madrid, Spain; ICCAT also concerns itself with billfish fisheries in its area, which also includes the Mediterranean Sea); the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC, Seattle, Washington, USA); the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC, Vancouver, BC, Canada); the International Whaling Commission (IWC, Cambridge, UK); the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO, Edinburgh, UK).

9.3 Other related bodies

There are a few regional bodies that have rather broad mandates to study living marine resources and the effect of human exploitation of them. One notable example is ICES (The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Copenhagen, Denmark), for which a broad mission statement is given in the box below. They are not limited always to fisheries or may concentrate on only one or two aspects of fisheries. Some are a major source of scientific advice to fishery managers, ministries etc. of their member countries. The following are other well known organizations, but the list is not exhaustive:

The International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM, Manila, Philippines); the Southeast Asian Fishery Development Centre(SEAFDEC, Bangkok, Thailand); the International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea (ICSEM, Monaco); la Organización Latinoamericana de Desarrollo de la Pesca (OLDEPESCA, Lima, Perú); the South Pacific Commission (SPC, Noumea, New Caledonia; it is not be confused with the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific - see, above); the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES, Sydney, BC, Canada).

Broad Terms of Reference of an International Body Promoting Research and Advice in Fisheries Resources

The International Council for the Exploration of thè Sea, hereinafter called “the Council”, (1) exists to: a) promote and encourage research and investigations for the study of the sea, particularly related to the living resources thereof; (b) draw up programmes required for this purpose and to organize, in agreement with its Contracting Parties, such research and investigations as may appear necessary; (c) publish or otherwise disseminate the results of this work; and (d) provide scientific information and advice to Member Country governments and the regulatory commissions which they have established; and (2) seeks to establish and maintain working arrangements with other international organizations which have related objectives and cooperate, as far as possible, with such organizations.




Because of its all-embracing character, the text of the Law of the Sea Convention the text given in UN (1983) covers practically all human activities in the marine environment, and influences institutional thinking and practice in a wide range of spheres. At the same time, our concern is primarily with the use of living marine resources, where the 1982 Convention provides the corner stone for actions by States in their conservation and management. Without providing a substitute for referring to the full text, this annex therefore reproduces frequently used sections of the Convention particularly relevant to the subject of the present document.

Part V of the Convention is where the definition of the Exclusive Economic Zone sets the scene for issues relevant to management and conservation of living marine resources:


Article 55 - Specific legal régime of the exclusive economic zone

The exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal régime established in this Part, under which the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of this Convention.

Article 56 - Rights, jurisdiction and duties of the coastal State in the exclusive economic zone

  1. In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has:

    1. sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the sea-bed and of the sea-bed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;

    2. jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to:

      1. the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;

      2. marine scientific research;

      3. the protection and preservation of the marine environment;

    3. other rights and duties provided for in this Convention.

  2. In exercising its rights and performing its duties under this Convention in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have due regard to the rights and duties of other States and shall act in a manner compatible with the provisions of this Convention.

  3. The rights set out in this article with respect to the sea-bed and subsoil shall be exercised in accordance with Part VI.

Article 57 - Breadth of the exclusive economic zone

The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

The next series of key Articles introduce the provisions for managing resources of EEZ's:

Article 61 - Conservation of the living resources

  1. The coastal State shall determine the allowable catch of the living resources in its exclusive economic zone.

  2. The coastal State, taking into account the best scientific evidence available to it, shall ensure through proper conservation and management measures that the maintenance of the living resources in the exclusive economic zone is not endangered by over-exploitation. As appropriate, the coastal State and compe tent international organizations, whether subregional, regional or global, shall co-operate to this end.

  3. Such measures shall also be designed to maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield, as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors, including the economic needs of coastal fishing communities and the special requirements of developing States, and taking into account fishing patterns, the interdependence of stocks and any generally recommended international minimum standards, whether subregional, regional or global.

  4. In taking such measures the coastal State shall take into consideration the effects on species associated with or dependent upon harvested species with a view to maintaining or restoring populations of such associated or dependent species above levels at which their reproduction may become seriously threatened.

  5. Available scientific information, catch and fishing effort statistics, and other data relevant to the conservation of fish stocks shall be contributed and exchanged on a regular basis through competent international organizations, whether subregional, regional or global, where appropriate and with participation by all States concerned, including States whose nationals are allowed to fish in the exclusive economic zone.

Article 62 - Utilization of the living resources

  1. The coastal State shall promote the objective of optimum utilization of the living resources in the exclusive economic zone without prejudice to article 61.

  2. The coastal State shall determine its capacity to harvest the living resources of the exclusive economic zone. Where the coastal State does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall, through agree ments or other arrangements and pursuant to the terms, conditions, laws and regulations referred to in paragraph 4, give other States access to the surplus of the allowable catch, having particular regard to the provisions of articles 69 and 70, especially in relation to the developing States mentioned therein.

  3. In giving access to other States to its exclusive economic zone under this article, the coastal State shall take into account all relevant factors, including, inter alia, the significance of the living resources of the area to the economy of the coastal State concerned and its other national interests, the provisions of articles 69 and 70, the requirements of developing States in the subregion or region in harvesting part of the surplus and the need to minimize economic dislocation in States whose nationals have habitually fished in the zone or which have made substantial efforts in research and identification of stocks.

  4. Nationals of other States fishing in the exclusive economic zone shall comply with the conservation measures and with the other terms and conditions established in the laws and regulations of the coastal State. These laws and regulations shall be consistent with this Convention and may relate, inter alia, to the following:

    1. licensing of fishermen, fishing vessels and equipment, including payment of fees and other forms of remuneration, which, in the case of developing coastal States, may consist of adequate compensation in the field of financ ing, equipment and technology relating to the fishing industry;

    2. determining the species which may be caught, and fixing quotas of catch, whether in relation to particular stocks or groups of stocks or catch per vessel over a period of time or to the catch by nationals of any State during a specified period;

    3. regulating seasons and areas of fishing, the types, sizes and amount of gear, and the types, sizes and number of fishing vessels that may be used;

    4. fixing the age and size of fish and other species that may be caught;

    5. specifying information required of fishing vessels, including catch and effort statistics and vessel position reports;

    6. requiring, under the authorization and control of the coastal State, the conduct of specified fisheries research programmes and regulating the conduct of such research, including the sampling of catches, disposition of samples and reporting of associated scientific data;

    7. the placing of observers or trainees on board such vessels by the coastal State;

    8. the landing of all or any part of the catch by such vessels in the ports of the coastal State;

    9. terms and conditions relating to joint ventures or other cooperative arrangements;

    10. requirements for the training of personnel and the transfer of fisheries technology, including enhancement of the coastal State's capability of undertaking fisheries research;

    11. enforcement procedures.

Article 63
Stocks occurring within the exclusive economic zones of two
or more coastal States or both within the exclusive economic
zone and in an area beyond and adjacent to it

  1. Where the same stock or stocks of associated species occur within the ex clusive economic zones of two or more coastal States, these States shall seek, either directly or through appropriate subregional or regional organizations, to agree upon the measures necessary to co-ordinate and ensure the conservation and development of such stocks without prejudice to the other provisions of this Part.

  2. Where the same stock or stocks of associated species occur both within the exclusive economic zone and in an area beyond and adjacent to the zone, the coastal State and the States fishing for such stocks in the adjacent area shall seek, either directly or through appropriate subregional or regional organiza tions, to agree upon the measures necessary for the conservation of these stocks in the adiacent area.

Article 64 - Highly migratory species

  1. The coastal State and other States whose nationals fish in the region for the highly migratory species listed in Annex I shall co-operate directly or through appropriate international organizations with a view to ensuring conser vation and promoting the objective of optimum utilization of such species throughout the region, both within and beyond the exclusive economic zone. In regions for which no appropriate international organization exists, the coastal State and other States whose nationals harvest these species in the region shall co-operate to establish such an organization and participate in its work.

  2. The provisions of paragraph 1 apply in addition to the other provisions of this Part.

Article 65 - Marine mammals

Nothing in this Part restricts the right of a coastal State or the competence of an international organization, as appropriate, to prohibit, limit or regulate the exploitation of marine mammals more strictly than provided for in this Part. States shall co-operate with a view to the conservation of marine mammals and in the case of cetaceans shall in particular work through the appropriate interna tional organizations for their conservation, management and study.

Article 66 - Anadromous stock

  1. States in whose rivers anadromous stocks originate shall have the primary interest in and responsibility for such stocks.

  2. The State of origin of anadromous stocks shall ensure their conservation by the establishment of appropriate regulatory measures for fishing in all waters landward of the outer limits of its exclusive economic zone and for fishing provided for in paragraph 3(b). The State of origin may, after consultations with the other States referred to in paragraphs 3 and 4 fishing these stocks, es tablish total allowable catches for stocks originating in its rivers.

    1. Fisheries for anadromous stocks shall be conducted only in waters landward of the outer limits of exclusive economic zones, except in cases where this provision would result in economic dislocation for a State other than the State of origin. With respect to such fishìng beyond the outer limits of the exclusive economic zone, States concerned shall maintain consultations with a view to achieving agreement on terms and conditions of such fishing giving due regard to the conservation require ments and the needs of the State of origin in respect of these stocks.
    2. The State of origin shall co-operate in minimizing economic dislocation in such other States fishing these stocks, taking into account the normal catch and the mode of operations of such States, and all the areas in which such fishing has occurred.

    3. States referred to in subparagraph (b), participating by agreement with the State of origin in measures to renew anadromous stocks, particularly by expenditures for that purpose, shall be given special consideration by the State of origin in the harvesting of stocks originating in its rivers.

    4. Enforcement of regulations regarding anadromous stocks beyond the ex clusive economic zone shall be by agreement between the State of origin and the other States concerned.

  3. In cases where anadromous stocks migrate into or through the waters landward of the outer limits of the exclusive economic zone of a State other than the State of origin, such State shail co-operate with the State of origin with regard to the conservation and management of such stocks.

  4. The State of origin of anadromous stocks and other States fishing these stocks shall make arrangements for the implementation of the provisions of this article, where appropriate, through regionai organizations.

Article 67 - Catadromous species

  1. A coastal State in whose waters catadromous species spend the greater part of their life cycle shall have responsibility for the management of these spe cies and shall ensure the ingress and egress of migrating fish.

  2. Harvesting of catadromous species shall be conducted only in waters land ward of the outer limits of exclusive economic zones. When conducted in exclu sive economic zones, harvesting shall be subject to this article and the other provisions of this Convention concerning fishing in these zones.

  3. In cases where catadromous fish migrate through the exclusive economic zone of another State, whether as juvenile or maturing fish, the management, including harvesting, of such fish shall be regulated by agreement between the State mentioned in paragraph 1 and the other State concerned. Such agreement shall ensure the rational management of the species and talce into account the responsibilities of the State mentioned in paragraph 1 for the maintenance of these species.

Article 68 - Sedentary species

This Part does not apply to sedentary species as defined in article 77, paragraph 4.

Management and conservation of resources that do not fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of coastal States are dealt with under Section 2 of Part VII “HIGH SEAS”.


Article 116 - Right to fsh on the high seas

All States have the right for their nationals to engage in fishing on the high seas subject to:

  1. their treaty obligations;

  2. the rights and duties as well as the interests of coastal States provided for, interalia, in article 63, paragraph 2, and articles 64 to 67; and

  3. the provisions of this section.

Article 117 - Duty of States to adopt with respect to their nationals measures
for the conservation of the living resources of the high seas

All States have the duty to take, or to co-operate with other States in taking, such measures for their respective nationals as may be necessary for the conser vation of the living resources of the high seas.

Article 118 - Co-operation of States in the conservation and management of
living resources

States shall co-operate with each other in the conservation and management of living resources in the areas of the high seas. States whose nationals exploit identical living resources, or different living resources in the same area, shall enter into negotiations with a view to taking the measures necessary for the con servation of the living resources concerned. They shall, as appropriate, co operate to establish subregional or regional fisheries organizations to this end.

Article 119 - Conservation of the living resources of the high seas

  1. In determining the allowable catch and establishing other conservation measures for the living resources in the high seas, States shall:

    1. take measures which are designed, on the best scientific evidence avail able to the States concerned, to maintain or restore populations of har vested species at levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield, as qualifled by relevant environmental and economic factors, including the special requirements of developing States, and taking into account fishing patterns, the interdependence of stocks and any generally recommended international minimum standards, whether subregional, regional or global;

    2. take into consideration the effects on species associated with or depen dent upon harvested species with a view to maintaining or restoring populations of such associated or dependent species above levels at which their reproduction may become seriously threatened.

  2. Available scientific information, catch and fishing effort statistics, and other data relevant to the conservation of fish stocks shall be contributed and exchanged on a regular basis through competent international organizations, whether subregional, regional or global, where appropriate and with participa tion by all States concerned.

  3. States concerned shall ensure that conservation measures and their imple mentation do not discriminate in form or in fact against the fishermen of any State.

Article 120 - Marine mammals

Article 65 also applies to the conservation and management of marine mammals in the high seas.

The concluding sections reproduced here relate to a particular class of marine areas which, as we have seen, are particularly liable to human impacts:


Article 122 - Definition

For the purposes of this Convention, “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” means a gulf, basin or sea surrounded by two or more States and connected to another sea or the ocean by a narrow outlet or consisting entirely or primarily of the territorial seas and exclusive economic zones of two or more coastal States.

Article 123 - Co-operation of States bordering enclosed or semi-enclosed seas

States bordering an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea should co-operate with each other in the exercise of their rights and in the performance of their duties under this Convention. To this end they shall endeavour, directly or through an appropriate regional organization:

  1. to co-ordinate the management, conservation, exploration and exploita tion of the living resources of the sea;

  2. to co-ordinate the implementation of their rights and duties with respect to the protection and preservation of the marine environment;

  3. to co-ordinate their scientific research policies and undertake where appropriate joint programmes of scientific research in the area;

  4. to invite, as appropriate, other interested States or international organi zations to co-operate with them in furtherance of the provisions of this article.

Other Articles have some relevance to the present document but are not reproduced here for lack of space. These are given under the following headings,and can be referred to in UN (1983):

Article 143Marine scientific research
Article 145Protection of the marine environment


Article 193Sovereign rights of States to exploit their natural resources
Article 194Measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment
Article 196Use of technologies or introduction of alien or new species

(Section 2: Global and Regional Co-operation)

Article 200Studies, research programmes and exchange of information and data
Article 201Scientific criteria for regulations

(Section 4: Monitoring and Environmental Assessment)

Article 206Assessment of potential effects of activities
Article 207Pollution from land-based sources

(MARINE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH - Section 1: General Provisions)

Article 238Right to conduct marine scientific research
Article 239Promotion of marine scientific research
Article 240General principles for the conduct of marine scientific research

(Section 2: International Co-operation)

Article 242Promotion of international co-operation
Article 243Creation of favourable conditions
Article 244Publication and dissemination of information and knowledge

(Section 3: Conduct and Promotion of Marine Scientific Research)

Articles 245–257(Thirteen Articles covering various aspects and marine areas)

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