UNCLOS regime adequate for protecting fisheries stocks in the Arctic
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Without venturing into the intricacies of how an RFMO for the Arctic Ocean might be established and operated, the point is that the United States, Russia, and the other Arctic states are familiar with the challenges of managing sustainable fisheries and the consequences of failing to act proactively. Furthermore, all eight Arctic states have ratified the Fish Stocks Agreement, a strong indication “that all eight states have already accepted the principles established by [UNCLOS] that includes the enforcement of regional fisheries agreements in the high seas.”92 In short, cooperation among the Arctic states, including Russia, seems more likely than conflict on fisheries issues. The real question may be whether those states allocate sufficient resources to the enforcement of whatever regime is put in place.
U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will boost efforts to manage fishing populations in multiple ways. First, UNCLOS provides a clear legal framework for resolving disputes between countries over fishing rights, as for example the disputes between the U.S. and Canada. Secondly, becoming a party to UNCLOS gives the U.S. Coast Guard more legal tools to enforce existing regulations within the U.S. EEZ. Finally, by aceeding to UNCLOS the U.S. will be able to better lead on cooperative solutions to the global problem of overfishing.