Widespread acceptance of UNCLOS is necessary for it to be successful in resolving current overfishing disputes
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As national governments debate the merits of joining UNCLOS III, international conflicts over fishing rights continue to develop throughout the world. Of particular note are: 1) disputes in the Spratly Islands of southeast Asia; 2) negotiations between Japan and South Korea over the Islets of Takeshima; 3) negotiations between China and South Korea involving shared waters; and 4) conflicts over conservation practices between Canada, Spain, and the United States. These disputes illustrate some of the issues that need to be settled to solve the overfishing problem. In each instance, agreements are being worked out in accordance with UNCLOS III. Unfortunately, although UNCLOS III provides the framework to begin resolving these disputes, a great deal of uncertainty surrounding international fishing regulation continues.n185 In many instances who has the power to dictate fishing rights and territory remains unclear.n186 In some cases, fishing practices that lead to unhealthy depletion of fish stocks continue unchecked.n187 In other instances, temporary solutions are implemented, but the future still is unknown. Widespread acceptance of UNCLOS III would provide the necessary structure to resolve these tenuous situations.
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.