GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 1 (2011)
Conflicts over Protection of Marine Living Resources: The 'Volga Case' Revisited
Non-traditional maritime security concerns have become more important than ever in the post-Cold War era. Naval forces of most developed countries are more concerned about these threats than conventional war. One of the main maritime security issues for many countries in the world is illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the marine area. With these burgeoning issues comes the potential for a large number of disputes involving international law. In early 2002, a long-line fishing vessel under a Russian flag - the Volga, was detained by Australian authorities a few hundred meters outside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Australia’s Heard and McDonald Islands in the Southern Ocean. The vessel was reportedly engaged in illegal fishing. This incident gave birth to litigation in international and Australian courts. Apart from these cases, Russia also announced separate litigation against Australia for violation of Articles 111 and 87 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Considering the outcome of these cases, this article critically examines the characteristics of litigation as a strategy for pacific settlement of disputes over marine living resources. Using the Volga Case as an example, this article explores some issues related to the judicial settlement of disputes over marine living resources. This article demonstrates that the legal certainty of winning a case may not be the only factor influencing the strategy for settlement of an international dispute.
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