Fisheries Management by International and Regional Authorities

The issue of management and supervision of fisheries is extremely complex. Regional authorities are primarily responsible for attempting to regulate the sector. For its part, the FAO has been requesting the adoption of an international convention for many years.

Currently the most comprehensive legal tool pointing countries towards the environmentally friendly use of bio-aquatic resources is the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. But the code, adopted in 1993, is not binding, even though some parts are based on rules pertaining to international law. To find out more, see the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, available in many languages.

In general, attempts to regulate the fishing industry have proved extremely disappointing, or in some cases disastrous. Driven by purely economic considerations, some countries have been striving for decades to prevent the establishment of fishing quotas based on scientific recommendations. One example of a resounding failure is ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), an inter-governmental organization based in Spain, which has been accused of completely ignoring its own scientific advisors and acting to encourage rather than combat the extinction of Atlantic bluefin tuna.