GoJIL Vol. 13, No. 1 (2023)
Compulsory Settlement of EEZ Fisheries Enforcement Disputes under UNCLOS: “Swallowing the Rule” or “Balancing the Equation”?
While there is a widely held view that disputes concerning fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are largely exempt from the compulsory jurisdiction of courts and tribunals as a result of far-reaching exceptions in Part XV of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC), this is not the case for all EEZ fisheries disputes. This article examines the specific question of disputes concerning the enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations in the EEZ, and considers how the Part XV framework has been—or could be—used and interpreted for the compulsory settlement of EEZ fisheries enforcement disputes. It examines the obligation of prompt release established in Article 292, the option to exclude compulsory jurisdiction with respect to law enforcement activities concerning EEZ fisheries by written declaration under Article 298(1)(b), and the opportunity to bring disputes concerning EEZ fisheries enforcement within the scope of compulsory jurisdiction under Article 297(1) by characterising them as relating to the freedom of navigation or the protection and preservation of the marine environment. Framing its enquiry by reference to the question posed in this special issue, the article argues that, rather than “swallowing the rule” of compulsory jurisdiction, the jurisdictional scheme established for EEZ fisheries enforcement disputes helps to “balance the equation” and support the effectiveness of Part XV in protecting the compromises that are embodied in the LOSC.
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