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The effective management of shared fish stocks stands as one of the great challenges towards achieving long-term sustainable fisheries. These resources account for as much as one-third of world marine capture fishery harvests. This paper explores the legal and economic aspects of the management of each of the several different categories of shared stocks, namely transboundary, highly migratory, straddling and discrete high seas stocks. In so doing, the paper draws heavily upon the results of the October 2002 Norway-FAO Expert Consultation on the Management of Shared Fish Stocks. The legal foundation for the management of shared stocks rests upon the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement. The economics of the issue point to the conclusion that, with few exceptions, effective cooperation between and among states is a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable resource management. Non-cooperative management leads almost invariably to overexploitation. Effective long-run cooperation demands that arrangements have the resiliency to withstand unpredictable shocks. This requires that the bargaining scope be as broad as possible. Effective cooperation also requires the full implementation of the FAO International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

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