This research focuses on the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the southern ocean. The last decade has seen increasing attention to the problems caused by inadequate controls over high seas fishing. While non-compliance with fisheries regulations is not new, the 1990s brought the problems in managing high seas stocks, particularly highly migratory and straddling stocks, into sharp relief. More recently the problems of dealing with fishing operations that take place outside relevant management arrangements or outside effective control by flag states (so called flag of convenience FOC vessels), given the title illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing has attracted considerable attention. IUU fishing can take place in any fishery, and can as easily take place within a coastal states exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as in the high seas.
While Australia has current interests in demersal stocks in the the Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean, tuna fishing in the West-Central Pacific, and in the Patagonian toothfish fishery in sub-Antarctic waters, Australias only significant international fishery for a considerable period of time was the southern bluefin tuna (SBT) fishery. This fishery had a major influence on Australias international fisheries outlook. Australias focus on promoting the management of HMS in the negotiations that led to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) in 1995 was directly related to its experiences of the problems in managing the SBT stock.
Australia raised the problem of IUU fishing at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting in February 1999. At the FAO Ministerial Conference in Rome between 1011 March 1999 following COFI, FAO declared that it would develop a global plan of action to deal effectively with all forms of IUU fishing to be tabled at the next COFI meeting in February 2001. FAO was supported by from a number of member states, including Australia, Canada and the European Community, to develop an international plan of action for IUU fishing. As with other IPOAs the IPOA-IUU is voluntary, and elaborated within the framework of the Code of Conduct of Responsible Fisheries.
Australias commitment to action against IUU fishing provide important insights into the emergent trends in the high seas fisheries regime. This regime, and particularly current action to prevent, deter and elimate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing reflects broad-based concern over the implications of traditional freedoms of high seas fisheries. Action against IUU fishing, initiated by Australia, reflects the possibilities (and some of the constrainsts) provided by initiatives such as the UNFSA, itself centred on, but extending, the LOSC as well as those provided by the soft law approach established by the Code of Conduct . The establishment of the IPOA-IUU is an important element in the dvelopment of the high seas fishereis regime, but its negotiation reflects on-going tensions over traditional flag state responsibilities and emergent tools such as port state and trade-related measures.The establishment of the IPOA-IUU reinforces the role of regional arrangements and the importance of collaboration between members of RFMOs.
Authorised by the Interim Head of School, Social Sciences
16 August, 2011