Netherlands Polar Data Center

Project - Participation, Allocation and the Ecosystem Approach in Polar Fisheries


Worldwide excess fishing capacity, steadily increasing demand for fish products, and declining catches in marine fisheries are all expected to lead to increased interest in new or under-utilized fishing opportunities. The polar regions may present such opportunities due to, among other things, impacts of climate change and lack of alternative, commercially viable, fishing opportunities.
Expansion of existing polar fisheries and commencement of new polar fisheries are constrained by a considerable lack of scientific knowledge and data on target species as well as on impacts of fisheries on non-target species and the broader ecosystem. The abovementioned socio-economic considerations, however, may lead to less strict adherence to the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF). If polar fisheries are allowed to expand in existing fishing areas or commence in new areas, access must be strictly regulated to avoid over-exploitation. This can be achieved by making access to high seas fisheries conditional on participation in the relevant regional fisheries management bodies and by allocating fishing opportunities within them.
In light of these potential developments and challenges, the envisaged research will examine the formal rules and practices of polar fisheries management bodies in the context of relevant international law, focusing on three main areas: (i) participation in polar fisheries management bodies; (ii) allocation of fishing opportunities in polar regions; and (iii) the EAF in polar fisheries. The research will, among other things, verify the consistency of polar rules and practices with overarching international law, develop recommendations to strengthen international law, and ascertain entitlements of the Netherlands.

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