International fisheries law is no longer driven by the clash of interests between coastal and distant-water fishing States, but is increasingly about how States in existing international fisheries, mostly with some degree of responsibility for their depletion, are striving to exclude newcomers. The residual freedom of fishing on the high seas is an obstacle to regulation by international commissions since States outside are not bound by treaties to which they are not party—which in turn creates a disincentive for States inside to accept the necessary restraints. Rules to limit entry to international fisheries are therefore now needed, and articles 8 and 17 of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement come close to this, but their transformation into custom (or that of regulations adopted by fisheries commissions into objective regimes) so as to bind non-parties is being stunted by commissions' self-serving views on what cooperation with them by new entrants to the fisheries entails for the latter. The result is that the modern arguments for exclusion of newcomers bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the discredited 1950s abstention doctrine. This article suggests why those arguments are now meeting little resistance, despite being advanced by States collectively unwilling even to restore depleted stocks to the biomass corresponding to their maximum sustainable yield, as the doctrine would have required (and the current law also does).