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The Barents Sea Loophole Agreement: A "Coastal State" Solution to a Straddling Stock Problem

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In May 1999 Iceland, Norway and Russia signed an agreement (the "Loophole Agreement") designed to resolve a six-year dispute over unregulated fishing by Icelandic vessels for straddling stocks in an enclave ("the Loophole") of high seas in the central Barents Sea. The Agreement, which gives Iceland fishing rights in the Norwegian and Russian EEZs in return for ceasing fishing in the Loophole, is an example of direct co-operation between coastal and high seas fishing states over the management of straddling fish stocks on the high seas which the 1995 UN Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks envisages as a possible alternative to management through a regional fisheries organisation. The article explains why the parties have chosen this model rather than utilising the existing regional fisheries organisation or establishing a new regional fisheries arrangement; and compares the Loophole Agreement with arrangements for some other high seas enclaves.

Affiliations: 1: Cardiff University

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