The 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement marked a major step forward in the development of a comprehensive legal regime for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. While further efforts are needed to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Agreement, it has already had a profound impact on fisheries governance since it entered into force in 2001.

The 1995 Agreement, which builds on the relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, addresses problems relating to the management of high seas fisheries, as identified in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. According to Agenda 21, “there are problems of unregulated fishing, over-capitalization, excessive fleet size, vessel reflagging to escape controls, insufficiently selective gear, unreliable databases, and lack of sufficient cooperation among countries.” It called for action by States to cooperate in order to address “inadequacies in fishing practices.”


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