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First Advisor

David VanderZwaag


This thesis examines the management of marine living resources in international law. The thesis considers the development of the two principal approaches to fisheries management. The first approach is based upon maximising the yield of particular stocks, and is reflected in the content of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It has evolved out of fisheries management theory developed since the 1950s, and focuses upon extracting the maximum harvest of a particular stock while still permitting that stock's biological regeneration. The second approach uses the precautionary principle, and may include management directed at the entire ecosystem. This approach has derived from international environmental law over the last twenty years, and based upon risk assessment, where if an action is proposed, the onus is placed on the proponent to demonstrate that the risk of damage falls within established parameters. The thesis explores the juridical bases of these approaches and charts their development. It then seeks to compare the approaches on a number of criteria through the media of two international conventions, operating in analogous polar environments. The first of these arrangements is the Bering Sea "Doughnut Hole" Convention, designed to preserve the pollock stock in the central area of the Bering Sea, and the second is the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), designed to manage all the elements of the marine ecosystem of the Southern Ocean. The thesis concludes by rationalising the comparative analysis, and noting the difficulties common to both approaches in the area of compliance. It then proposes a number of mechanisms by which the management of stocks could be improved.