The End of the Viarsa Saga and the Legality of Australia's Vessel Forfeiture Penalty for Illegal Fishing in Its Exclusive Economic Zone

By Blakely, Laurence | Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, June 2008 | Go to article overview

The End of the Viarsa Saga and the Legality of Australia's Vessel Forfeiture Penalty for Illegal Fishing in Its Exclusive Economic Zone


Blakely, Laurence, Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal


Abstract: 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.

I. INTRODUCTION

In December 2007, the infamous Uruguayan-flagged longline fishing vessel Viarsa I finally came to rest on the shores of Mumbai and is presently standing-by to be demolished and sold as scrap in the Indian ship-breaking yards.1 Viarsa I was the object of one of the longest hot pursuits in history, and one so sensational that it was the subject of a widely successful novel by a journalist for the Wall Street Journal.3 In August 2003, the Australian Fisheries and Customs patrol vessel Southern Supporter chased Viarsa I for twenty-one days over almost 4,000 nautical miles, through an iceberg-strewn stormy Southern Ocean in the middle of winter.4 Having detected Viarsa I allegedly violating fisheries regulations in Australia's exclusive economic zone ("EEZ"), Southern Supporter initiated hot pursuit, finally catching up with Viarsa I in the South Atlantic Ocean and escorting her back to Australia.5 Although the crew was eventually acquitted of all criminal charges by an Australian jury because evidence of the violation was only circumstantial,6 the Commonwealth still confiscated the vessel as forfeited, pursuant to section 106A of the Fisheries Management Act ("FMA").7 The owners of the vessel challenged this forfeiture in Australian courts, as allowed by the FMA.8 Four years later, the Federal Court of Western Australia finally dismissed the Viarsa I owner's application challenging this forfeiture,9 enabling the Australian Fisheries Management Authority ("AFMA") to initiate the dismantling process and bring to a close the Viarsa saga.10

The saga, however, may yet continue. It remains unclear whether Australia's forfeiture provision, section 106A of the FMA, is consistent with international law. Although the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ("LOSC") does not specifically address whether forfeiture is an allowable method of enforcement of a coastal state's fisheries regulations, in its most recent case, the Tomimaru, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, ("ITLOS"), recognized the issue without resolving it.12 Presiding ITLOS Judge Rudiger Wolfrum, in his statement to the Plenary of the United Nations General Assembly in December 2007, described the Tomimaru case as raising questions concerning "the confiscation of a vessel and the relation between national and international rules."13 Judge Wolfrum noted on behalf of ITLOS that, although the Law of the Sea Convention makes no reference to confiscation provisions, "many States have provided for measures of confiscation of fishing vessels in their legislation with respect to the management and conservation of marine living resources. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The End of the Viarsa Saga and the Legality of Australia's Vessel Forfeiture Penalty for Illegal Fishing in Its Exclusive Economic Zone
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.