Washington International Law Journal


The world’s fish stocks are suffering from over-utilization. The earth’s oceans are subject to exploitation by all nation states and very little preservation. Because of the nature of the international legal regime of the Law of the Sea, enforcement of what conservation and management measures exist is challenging. Boundaries, ephemeral on land, are even more so on water, making rights allocation and management particularly difficult. Nevertheless, as fish stocks continue to decrease and it becomes clearer that oceans require more effective management, coastal states have begun to undertake more significant enforcement procedures corresponding to their rights in their exclusive economic zones established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In particular, Australia has recently implemented a series of measures aimed at improving the enforcement of fisheries regulations in its exclusive economic zone. Although the motive behind these measures is to attain more effective conservation and management of its living marine resources, Australia is pushing the boundaries of international law and must endeavor to ensure it acts in conformity with international law. In 1999, Australia amended its Fisheries Management Act to provide for the automatic forfeiture of any foreign vessel caught fishing illegally in its exclusive economic zone. Australia can and should interpret this provision to conform to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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