where no EEZ claim has been made, several states instead claim an exclusive fishery zone. A significant proportion of these states border the Mediterranean Sea which has witnessed a dearth of EEZ claims.
The Mediterranean littoral states are not opposed to the EEZ concept in principle, but have been dissuaded from making EEZ claims because of ‘a twofold economico-geographic reason’. The geographical part of this reason relates to the fact that the physical dimensions of the Mediterranean preclude any coastal state from claiming an EEZ out to 200 nm from its baselines. The economic dimension refers to the the relatively unproductive nature of the Mediterranean from a fisheries perspective. Fishery zones have also been claimed by several states on behalf of their dependent territories.
Nearly 70 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are in trouble and urgently in need of conservation. Catches have collapsed in the Black Sea; less than 200 000 tonnes of fish were landed in 1991, compared to 1 million tonnes in the late 1980s. Stocks of bottom-living fish in the East China and Yellow Seas have fallen to between one-fifth and one-tenth of their highest levels. Other crisis areas include the Northwest and Northeast Atlantic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the Central Baltic, the Gulf of Thailand and the Western Central Pacific. Nearly all the inland fisheries of Asia and Africa also show signs of overexploitation.
Attempts to manage marine fisheries have generally failed. Instead conflicts have grown as stocks have fallen. Developed country fleets have clashed over fisheries in both the Northwest and Northeast Atlantic while large-scale commercial fleets are at odds with small-scale artisanal fishermen off many developing countries.
The international fishery commissions, established under the auspices of FAO (the first in 1948), have broadened the scope of management options and included many developing countries, but have so far had little success other than trying to impose quotas and regulate fishing gear and boat size. But they provide the mechanisms for sustainable fisheries management if countries would show the necessary cooperation and political will.
The third UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which came into force in 1994, enables coastal states to establish exclusive economic zones, usually stretching 200 miles from their shores, where they have complete control of resources – providing a new opportunity for better regulation. In 1994 work started on drafting a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries under the auspices of FAO, offering hope – if it is observed – of a new era in fisheries management.
International fishery commissions
(*FAO fishery body)
North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES)
International North Pacific Fisheries Commission (INPFC)
Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)
Council of the Eastern Pacific Tuna Fishing Agreement (CEPTFA)
Eastern Pacific Tuna Fishing Organization (OAPA)
South Pacific Permanent Commission (CPPS)
South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
South Pacific Commission (SPC)
Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
North Atlantic Salmon Commission (NASCO)
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM) *
Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) *
Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) *
Regional Fisheries Advisory Commission for the Southwest Atlantic (CARPAS)
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
International Commission for the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries (ICSEAF)
International Whaling Commission (IWC)
Latin American Organization for the Development of Fisheries (OLDEPESCA)
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
Commission for Inland Fisheries of Latin America (COPESCAL) *
European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC) *
Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA) *
Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR)