Tribunal throws lifeline to coastal states facing foreign vessel threats to fisheries

Date: April 2, 2015

Source: WWF

Countries facing depletion of their fisheries by foreign vessels have been thrown a lifeline, with an international tribunal ruling that countries can be held liable for not taking necessary measures to prevent illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing operations by their vessels in the waters of other countries.

The ruling is included in an Advisory Opinion issued today by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)on the application of the West African Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) – comprised of Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

            “No longer will we have to try to combat illegal fishing on a boat by boat basis”

European trawlers at Dakar harbour, Senegal © Jo Benn / WWF

WWF, which has long sought clearer definition of flag state obligations for vessels, supported the action and filed two Amicus Curiae (friend of the tribunal)  briefs during the deliberations.
“This is a very welcome ruling that could be a real game changer,” said WWF International Marine Programme Director John Tanzer.   “No longer will we have to try to combat illegal fishing and the ransacking of coastal fisheries globally on a boat by boat basis.”



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