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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Modernising the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)

Prior to the mid-1990s, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) acted primarily as a forum for consultation in fisheries management issues rather than for adopting conservation and management measures. In fact, only two recommendations had been agreed within NEAFC up to 1995: a minimum mesh size for capelin (1984) and a minimum mesh size for blue whiting (1986). Since the mid-1990s, however, NEAFC has undergone a series of policy changes, culminating in the adoption of a new Convention in 2006 (which is applied provisionally as it has yet to enter into force). This case study reviews the recent changes that have been undertaken in NEAFC, focussing on the process of policy change, the factors underlying the push for change, obstacles to change and how they were addressed, and the key lessons learned from the NEAFC experience.

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