EEZ-adjacent distant-water fishing as a global security challenge: An international law perspective

Publikation: Arbeits- oder Diskussionspapiere und BerichteArbeits- oder Diskussionspapiere


This Hybrid CoE Working Paper uses the current tensions between China and Latin American coastal states to analyze the global security challenges posed by distant-water fishing (DWF) in high seas areas adjacent to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from the perspective of international fisheries law. It first provides an overview of the factual and political background, after which it discusses to what extent such large-scale fishing operations can be assessed through a security lens - highlighting the
growing literature on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as
a maritime security issue. Thereafter, the main part of this paper examines the role and function of the applicable frameworks of international fisheries law. On the one hand, it delves into the substantive requirements imposed by international fisheries law in relation to high seas fisheries in areas adjacent to EEZs off the western coast of Latin America, including the governance framework of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO). On the other hand, the analysis explores the applicable legal framework for fisheries law enforcement activities both on the high seas and in the EEZ, with a particular focus on the challenges and
restrictions that coastal states face with regard to the EEZ-adjacent activities of DWF fleets.
International law provides the framework for the distribution of rights and responsibilities between the states to which a fishing vessel is registered (the flag state), the states near whose EEZ the vessels are fishing (the coastal state), the states in whose ports the fish are unloaded (the port state) and any other interested states. However, fishing on the Hybrid CoE Working Paper 19 - 7 high seas just outside a coastal state’s EEZ is generally legal under international law and the primary responsibility for ensuring that vessels are not engaged in IUU fishing lies with the flag state. Accordingly, in instances where the flag state is unable or unwilling to fulfil this responsibility, the relevant regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO), in this case SPRFMO, has an important role to play in implementing relevant international legal obligations. However, as SPRFMO has yet to adopt detailed conservation and management measures (CMMs), such as catch limits, for the main target species of the Chinese DWF, the assessment of the legality of the activities of the Chinese DWF off the coast of Latin America is not straightforward, but depends on a full assessment of the factual evidence and circumstances of the individual case. This paper concludes that while international law does have an important role in establishing the framework for the regulation and enforcement of EEZ-adjacent high seas fisheries, this role should be enhanced through the strengthening of RFMO regulations and cooperation between RFMO members and other actors, such as NGOs, in enforcing these regulations.
VerlagThe European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats
Anzahl der Seiten40
ISBN (Print)978-952-7472-45-3
ISBN (elektronisch)978-952-7472-44-6
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.09.2022
Extern publiziertJa