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Interactions between International Law and Private Fisheries Certification

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 August 2017

Markos Karavias*
Affiliation:
Amsterdam Center for International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Email: M.Karavias@uva.nl.

Abstract

The management of fisheries at the international level is no longer the exclusive preserve of states and international organizations. The proliferation of private certification initiatives – the reach of which defies territorial boundaries – has heralded an era of transnational fisheries governance. Whereas the interactions between private standards and national regulation have attracted scholarly attention, the function of international law in the context of transnational fisheries governance is largely unexplored. This article maps the interactions between international fisheries law and the most prominent among private certification standards, namely the Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard and Guidance (MSC FSG). The article proposes a methodology to assess such interactions at the stage of norm development and argues that the interactions between the two regimes are multidirectional and complex. International law serves as a model for private standard setting and as a yardstick for private decision making. Conversely, the MSC FSG has acted as a model for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Ecolabelling Guidelines. Moreover, the MSC FSG may constitute a benchmark for resolutions adopted by regional fisheries management organizations. The MSC FSG, in incorporating international fisheries law, affirms the latter’s resilience as a global point of reference for the management of fisheries globally. Yet, at the same time, by prompting states to comply with their international obligations in order to secure market access for their fishing industry, the MSC FSG may be exposing the inability of international law to generate compliance autonomously.

Type
Articles
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2017 

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Footnotes

Research for this article was conducted within the framework of the Research Programme ‘Smart Mixes in Relation to Transboundary Environmental Harm’, funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The author would like to thank all members of the Programme, and especially Programme leaders André Nollkaemper and Michael Faure. All errors remain mine.

References

1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Status of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016: Contributing to Food Security and Nutrition for All (FAO, 2016), p. 2. This surge in fish consumption is especially notable in developing regions and low-income food-deficit countries, and it can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as improved distribution channels, growing demand linked to population growth, rising incomes, and urbanization.

2 Ibid., p. 4.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., p. 5.

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9 Tanaka, n. 7 above, p. 265. It is now accepted, with a measure of hindsight, that ‘fisheries conservation is probably the least successful part of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS, n. 57 below]: a triumph at best of hope over experience’: Birnie, P., Boyle, A. & Redgwell, C., International Law and the Environment, 3rd edn (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 704 Google Scholar. In the same vein, Churchill has highlighted that UNCLOS does not ‘sufficiently [recognize] the migratory nature of fish. Very few fish stocks are confined to the [Exclusive Economic Zone] EEZ of one state’. Nonetheless, when it comes to the conservation of marine resources in the EEZ, UNCLOS imposes upon coastal states obligations that are ‘too vague’ and which allow states ‘too much discretion’: Churchill, R., ‘10 Years of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: Towards a Global Ocean Regime? A General Appraisal’ (2005) 48 German Yearbook of International Law, pp. 81116 Google Scholar, at 108. Following the adoption of UNCLOS, a number of problems arose, which ‘brought to the fore shortcomings in the global fisheries regime provided by the [Convention]. The result was the adoption, during the first half of the 1990s, of a number of global instruments for regulating fishing activities’: Hey, E., ‘Global Fisheries Instruments Adopted in the Post-UNCLOS III Period’, in E. Hey (ed.), Developments in International Fisheries Law (Kluwer Law International, 1999), pp. 310, at 3Google Scholar.

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16 On the distinction between regulatory and non-regulatory private standards, see J. Morrison & N. Roht-Arriaza, ‘Private and Quasi-Private Standard Setting’, in Bodansky, Brunnée & Hey, ibid., pp. 498–527, at 498–9.

17 On the correlation between dissatisfaction with command-and-control approaches and the turn to supplementary market-based mechanisms, see Beyerlin, U. & Marauhn, T., International Environmental Law (Hart, 2011), p. 303 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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21 Gulbrandsen, L., ‘The Emergence and Effectiveness of the Marine Stewardship Council’ (2009) 33(4) Marine Policy, pp. 654660 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 654.

22 T. Ward & B. Phillips, ‘Ecolabelling of Seafood: Basic Concepts’, in Ward & Phillips (eds), n. 14 above, pp. 1–37, at 16.

23 The fishery or Unit of Assessment (UoA) is defined as a target species captured using a specific fishing method in a geographical area.

24 The supply chain certification, which follows up on the fishery certification, is governed by the ‘MSC Chain of Custody Standard: Default Version’, Version 4.0, 20 Feb. 2015, available at: https://www.msc.org/documents/scheme-documents/msc-standards/msc-default-coc-standard-v4.

26 Ibid., p. 6.

27 Sutton, M., ‘Harnessing Market Forces and Consumer Power in Favour of Sustainable Fisheries’, in T. Pitcher, P. Hart & D. Pauly (eds), Reinventing Fisheries Management (Springer, 1998), pp. 125136 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 133.

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29 MSC, ibid.

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31 See Martin, W., ‘Marine Stewardship Council: A Case Study in Private Environmental Standard-Setting’ (2014) 44(2) Environmental Law Reporter News & Analysis, pp. 1009710101 Google Scholar, at 10098.

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33 C. Roheim & J. Sutinen, ‘Trade and Marketplace Measures to Promote Sustainable Fishing Practices’, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Issue Paper No. 3, May 2006, p. 18, available at: http://www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/113442.pdf.

34 MSC, n. 28 above.

36 Peters, A., Koechlin, L. & Fenner Zinkernagel, G., ‘Non-State Actors as Standard Setters: Framing the Issue in an Interdisciplinary Fashion’, in A. Peters et al. (eds), Non-State Actors as Standard Setters (Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 132 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 4, note that ‘[s]tandard setting by non-state actors has so far not been explicitly treated in international legal scholarship’.

37 Marrakesh (Morocco), 15 Apr. 1994, in force 1 Jan. 1995, available at: https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/17-tbt_e.htm.

38 Ibid.

39 See Wouters, J. & Geraets, D., ‘Private Food Standards and the World Trade Organization: Some Legal Considerations’ (2012) 11(3) World Trade Review, pp. 479489 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 486.

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44 Ibid.

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46 Eberlein, B. et al., ‘Transnational Business Governance Interactions: Conceptualization and Framework for Analysis’ (2014) 8(1) Regulation and Governance, pp. 121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

47 Ibid., p. 2.

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49 Ibid.

50 Ibid., p. 340.

51 Secondary law of international organizations comprises the acts produced by those organizations. Such acts derive their legal effect from the founding treaty of the international organization in question, which allocates competence to the organization to pass said legal acts: see Benzing, M., ‘International Organizations or Institutions, Secondary Law’, in R. Wolfrum (ed.), The Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Law (Oxford University Press, 2014), available at: http://opil.ouplaw.com/home/EPIL Google Scholar.

52 FAO Doc. C95/20 (Rev.1), 29 Sept. 1995, available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/v9878e/v9878e00.htm.

53 Sutton, M., ‘The Marine Stewardship Council: New Hope for Marine Fisheries’ (1996) 19(3) NAGA: The ICLARM Quarterly, pp. 1012 Google Scholar, at 12.

55 CCRF, n. 52 above, Art. 1.2.

56 Ibid., Art. 2(c) & (j).

57 Montego Bay (Jamaica), 10 Dec. 1982, in force 16 Nov. 1994, available at: http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm.

58 New York, NY (United States), 4 Aug. 1995, in force 11 Dec. 2001, available at: http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_fish_stocks.htm.

59 CCRF, n. 52 above, Art. 1.1.

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61 MSC FSG, n. 25 above, p. 6.

62 Ibid., p. 66.

63 Ibid., p. 67.

64 Ibid., p. 68.

65 Ibid., p. 69

66 Ibid., p. 14. In this respect, see Agnew, D.J. et al., ‘The MSC Experience: Developing an Operational Certification Standard and a Market Incentive to Improve Fishery Sustainability’ (2013) 71(2) ICES Journal of Marine Science, pp. 216225 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

67 Birnie, Boyle & Redgwell, n. 9 above, pp. 590–1.

68 Ibid.

69 OECD, Environmental Requirements and Market Access (OECD, 2006), p. 254 Google Scholar.

70 The reactions of states to the MSC FSG are documented in Gulbrandsen, n. 21 above, p. 657, R. Willmann, K. Cochrane & W. Emerson, ‘FAO Guidelines for Ecolabelling in Wild-Capture Fisheries’, in Ward & Phillips (eds), n. 14 above, pp. 58–80, at 59.

71 FAO Guidelines for the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries, 2005, revised in 2009, available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1948e/i1948e08.pdf.

72 Gulbrandsen, n. 21 above, p. 657.

73 Willmann, Cochrane & Emerson, n. 70 above, p. 79; Martin, n. 31 above, p. 10098.

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75 FAO Guidelines, n. 71 above, Guideline 2.1.

76 Ibid., Guideline 42 (emphasis added).

77 Ibid., Guidelines 28–29.

78 Ibid., Guideline 30.

79 Ibid., Guideline 31.

80 Santacoloma, P., ‘Nexus between Public and Private Food Standards: Main Issues and Perspectives’, in A. Meybeck & S. Redfern (eds), Voluntary Standards for Sustainable Food Systems (FAO, 2014), pp. 1123 Google Scholar, at 20.

82 Intertek/Moody International, ‘Pole and Line Skipjack Fishery in the Maldives’, Public Certification Report, Version 5, Nov. 2012, p. 119, available at: https://fisheries.msc.org/en/fisheries/maldives-pole-line-tuna/@@assessments.

83 Ibid.

84 Ibid.

85 Ibid., p. 120.

86 Ibid., p. 119 (emphasis added).

87 Art. V 2(c) of the Agreement for the Establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, Rome (Italy), 25 Nov. 1993, in force 27 Mar. 1996, available at: ftp://ftp.fao.org/Fi/DOCUMENT/iotc/Basic/IOTCA_E.pdf.

88 See M.S. Adam, R. Sharma & N. Bentley, ‘Progress and Arrangements for Management Strategy Evaluation of Indian Ocean Skipjack Tuna’, paper submitted to the 15th Working Party of Tropical Tuna, 23–28 Oct. 2013, IOTC-2013-WPTT15-33.

89 Report of the 18th Session of the IOTC Scientific Committee, Doc. IOTC–2015–SC18–R[E] (2015), p. 28.

90 Cf. the default reference points, MSC FSG, n. 25 above, pp. 153–6.

91 Brownlie, I., ‘Legal Effects of Codes of Conduct for MNEs’, in N. Horn (ed.), Legal Problems of Codes of Conduct for Multinational Enterprises (Kluwer, 1980), pp. 3943 Google Scholar, at 42.

92 See Schachter, O., ‘The Decline of the Nation State and its Implications for International Law’ (1997) 36(7) Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, pp. 723 Google Scholar, at 8–12; more generally, Strange, S., The Retreat of the State (Cambridge University Press, 1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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102 See Gulbrandsen, n. 74 above, pp. 86–7.

103 Friedrich, n. 60 above, p. 359.

104 Meidinger, E., ‘Competitive Supragovernmental Regulation: How Could It Be Democratic?’ (2008) 8(2) Chicago Journal of International Law, pp. 513534 Google Scholar, at 530.

105 Gulbrandsen (n. 74 above, p. 87) speaks of a ‘mutual reinforcement of legitimacy’.

106 The reasons cited for this mixed picture often relate to the high costs of certification, lack of technical capacity, and the degree of organization, as well as the fact that the MSC process does not square with the complexity of small-scale fishing in the developing South: Ponte, S., ‘The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Making of a Market for “Sustainable Fish”’ (2012) 12(2–3) Journal of Agrarian Change, pp. 300315 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 310.

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108 Kalfagianni and Pattberg speak of the ‘regulatory effects’ of the MSC: Kalfagianni, A. & Pattberg, P., ‘Global Fisheries Governance beyond the State: Unraveling the Effectiveness of the Marine Stewardship Council’ (2013) 3(2) Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, pp. 184193 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 190–1.

109 Pauwelyn, J., Wessel, R. & Wouters, J., ‘When Structures Become Shackles: Stagnation and Dynamics in International Lawmaking’ (2014) 25(3) European Journal of International Law, pp. 733763 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 762.

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