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The Jurisprudence of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Relating to Fisheries: Is There Much in the Net?

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This paper provides a comprehensive survey of all matters related to the jurisprudence of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea relating to fisheries. An overview of the main provisions of the LOSC on the matter serves as an introduction. The author then expounds on the scope of the Tribunal's jurisdiction relating to fisheries in great detail while differentiating between its jurisdiction to deal with the substance of fisheries disputes on the one hand and provisional measures as well as prompt release orders on the other hand. He concludes that while the Tribunal theoretically has jurisdiction to deal with fisheries disputes not only arising from the LOSC and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement but also from over 20 other treaties, it has so far rarely been called on to do so. Nevertheless, the Tribunal has made a not insignificant impact on international fisheries law. This becomes obvious in the course of the following analysis of its jurisprudence on these matters. Before turning towards his final remarks, the author considers the prospects for the development of the Tribunal's fisheries jurisprudence. He concludes that it is difficult to predict the extent to which the Tribunal may be asked to resolve fisheries disputes and thus given an opportunity to develop its jurisprudence, but points out both that States have historically been reluctant to refer fisheries disputes to binding third-party settlement and that there are considerable jurisdictional obstacles to the Tribunal hearing fisheries disputes.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of International Law, School of Law, University of Dundee, United Kingdom


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