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5. Discrete high seas stocks

There is very little that one can, at this stage, say about these stocks. They might best be described as the “orphan” fish stocks of the ocean.

In legal terms, the resources are covered by the 1982 UN Convention Articles 116(a), 116©, 117-120. States exploiting such stocks are admonished to cooperate for the purposes of conserving the resources. No mechanism for cooperation is suggested.

These articles proved to be inadequate for the conservation of straddling and highly migratory stocks. One has no justification whatsoever for assuming that these articles will prove to be any more adequate for the conservation of discrete high seas stocks. If cooperative resource management arrangements, focused on these resources alone, were established, one could look forward, with confidence, to an intractable “free riding” problem.

Without an effective mechanism for cooperation, we can anticipate that the discrete high seas stocks fisheries will play themselves out as competitive fisheries games, with the to be expected destructive consequences. It may be that a solution could be found in extending the mandate of RFOs to cover these resources, but this is, of course, pure speculation at this stage.

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