Washington International Law Journal


Jon K. Goltz


The enclave of international waters in the central Sea of Okhotsk, called the "peanut hole," is surrounded by the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone ("EEZ") of the Russian Federation. Since 1991, distant water fishing nations ("DWFNs") have been fishing in the peanut hole in a manner that Russia claims is detrimental to the straddling pollack fish stock that exists both in Russia's EEZ and in the enclave. To prevent destruction of the pollack fishery, Russia imposed a moratorium on all fishing in the enclave; the moratorium is not universally observed. The United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks has produced a Draft Agreement which proposes improved procedures for creating international agreement on conservation and management regimes for straddling fish stocks, primarily by requiring compatibility of measures taken within and beyond the EEZ. The Draft Agreement also provides for enforcement by flag states, dispute resolution, and cautious management in the event of scientific uncertainty. Russia and DWFNs fishing in the peanut hole should accede to the draft agreement because it avoids a Russian-imposed moratorium and provides a practicable framework for preserving the pollack fishery.

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