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Strengthening Regional Fisheries Management Organisations

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With the development and entry into force of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement in 1995, the international community made a commitment to strengthen Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), established to deal with the management of shared high seas resources. This study takes stock of the changes made in RFMOs, highlighting a gradual process of improvement that has translated into significant success stories.  While there is no single recipe for this process, ensuring that the fundamental building blocks are in place to help create and maintain the economic and political momentum for change is important. Altering the underlying economic incentives may help to better align the interests of member countries, allowing coalitions for change to develop within the membership. The study and its analysis is built on evidence from a range of case studies of RFMOs, most notably the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CSBT), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).

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Executive Summary

With the development and entry into force of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) in 1995, the international community made a commitment to strengthen, where needed, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). Since then, RFMOs have been under increasing pressure to better manage the fisheries resources under their control. The expectations placed on RFMOs have grown over the past decades alongside a proliferation of international hard and soft law and there continues to be widespread concern over the performance of RFMOs. This is reflected in calls in international fora such as the United Nations and the FAO for improvements in the way in which RFMOs operate.

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