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Law of the Sea Aspects of the Negotiations in the WTO to Harmonise Rules of Origin

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A major source of controversy in the protracted Rules of Origin negotiations at the World Trade Organization is the origin to be ascribed to fish taken from the exclusive economic zone. Participants' positions are polarised between views recalling the old great divide between coastal States and distant-water fishing States, one camp seemingly oblivious to the past 50 years' developments in international fisheries law, the other adhering rigidly to a position elevating origin to the status of one of the coastal State's sovereign rights, even though practical considerations make such a rule unworkable. It is concluded that the rules of origin issue does not lend itself to use as a proxy vehicle for advancing legal and policy interests in international fisheries, and a compromise solution is offered that may enhance international fisheries commissions' authority in managing their species. Some problematic aspects of the much less controversial origin rules on minerals recovered from the deep seabed are also considered.

Affiliations: 1: School of Law, University of Southampton, UK; Australian National University, Canberra

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