Policing the high seas:
straddling fish stocks and
highly migratory species
Any discussion of the topic of policing the high seas, particularly when it comes to the subject of the international law of fisheries, must of course start with the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). That treaty, which came into force on 16 November 1994 and now has 116 parties, drew some very clear markers in the world's oceans. The 200 nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ) separates the high seas from those waters that are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the coastal state.
Inside that 200 nm zone the coastal state has the exclusive authority to conserve and manage fisheries, subject to general obligations to prevent over-fishing and, where they exist, to allocate surplus fisheries to other nations. Outside the 200 nautical mile EEZ line, all nations have the right to fish, but this right is made subject to certain responsibilities and to general obligations to cooperate in the conservation and management of the fishery.
The EEZ regime as reflected in LOSC is now accepted as part of general customary international law. We should not forget that this is a significant achievement. It ended many years of quite bitter disputes about the extent of coastal states' rights to exercise jurisdiction over fisheries.
Unfortunately, the general obligations regarding conservation and management of fisheries in the Convention were not specific and