Fisheries law

Fisheries law is an emerging and specialized area of law. Fisheries law is the study and analysis of different fisheries management approaches such as catch shares e.g. Individual Transferable Quotas; TURFs; and others. The study of fisheries law is important in order to craft policy guidelines that maximize sustainability and legal enforcement.[1] This specific legal area is rarely taught at law schools around the world, which leaves a vacuum of advocacy and research. Fisheries law also takes into account international treaties and industry norms in order to analyze fisheries management regulations.[2] In addition, fisheries law includes access to justice for small-scale fisheries and coastal and aboriginal communities and labor issues such as child labor laws, employment law, and family law.[3]

Another important area of research covered in fisheries law is seafood safety. Each country, or region, around the world has a varying degree of seafood safety standards and regulations. These regulations can contain a large diversity of fisheries management schemes including quota or catch share systems. It is important to study seafood safety regulations around the world in order to craft policy guidelines from countries who have implemented effective schemes. Also, this body of research can identify areas of improvement for countries who have not yet been able to master efficient and effective seafood safety regulations.

Fisheries law also includes the study of aquaculture laws and regulations. Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants. This body of research also encompasses animal feed regulations and requirements. It is important to regulate what feed is consumed by fish in order to prevent risks to human health and safety.

Fishery Lake Tondano
Fishery on Lake Tondano, Indonesia

Seafood Safety Regulations

U.S. Labeling of Genetically Engineered Salmon

On November 19, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AquaBounty Technologies’ application to sell the AquAdvantage salmon to U.S. consumers.[4] The possible introduction of genetically engineered salmon into the marketplace furthers discussion involving ethics, protection of the natural environment, international and domestic trade law, labeling practices, nutrition, and constitutional issues. As the FDA points out, nutrition labeling for raw produce (fruits and vegetables), fish, and genetically modified products, is voluntary.[5] Under section 403(a)(1) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FD&C Act"), a food is misbranded if its labeling is “false or misleading in any particular”.[6] Section 201(n) of the FD&C Act provides that labeling is misleading if it fails to reveal facts that are material in light of representations made or suggested in the labeling.[7] In regards to the AquAdvantage salmon, the FDA has stated:

"Based on our assessments of food derived from the AquAdvantage Salmon, we have determined that the term “Atlantic salmon” is the appropriate common or usual name for such food within the meaning of section 403(i) of the FD&C Act because AquAdvantage Salmon meets FDA’s regulatory standard for Atlantic salmon (Ref. 10) and the composition and basic nature of food from AquAdvantage Salmon does not significantly differ from its non-GE counterpart—non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. In addition, we have determined that food derived from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe and nutritious as food from other farm-raised Atlantic salmon. For these reasons, we have concluded that there is no material difference between food derived from AquAdvantage Salmon and food derived from other non-GE, farm-raised Atlantic salmon that is required to be disclosed in the labeling of food derived from AquAdvantage Salmon under the relevant provisions of the FD&C Act, as explained above."[8]

Canadian Labeling of Genetically Engineered Salmon

In 2014, Canada was a top-five producer of GM crops in the world, and is one of the largest players on the global market.[9] Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ("CFIA") carry joint responsibility for federally food labeling policies in Canada under the Food and Drugs Act ("F&D Act").[10] Under the F&D Act, GMOs are defined as “novel foods”. A novel food is allowed to enter the Canadian marketplace only after it has passed an assessment undertaken by various stakeholders. Health Canada is responsible for deciding all health and safety labeling policies for food products, such as special dietary needs or GM products, and ensuring that the products are safe for consumption.[11] The CFIA is responsible for the development of all non-health and safety food labeling regulations and policies and the enforcement of labeling legislation.[11] Standards are set by the CFIA so that Canadian food labels are truthful and not misleading.

Subsection 5(1) of the F&D Act states that “no person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety”. Food must be labelled only if there are changes in the food such as problematic allergens or a significant nutrient or compositional change. Health Canada has not released an official statement concerning the AquAdvantage salmon, but does state on its website: “after twelve years of reviewing the safety of novel foods, Health Canada is not aware of any published scientific evidence demonstrating that novel foods are any less safe than traditional foods. The regulatory framework put in place by the federal government ensures that new and modified foods can be safely introduced in to the Canadian diet”.[12]

See also


  1. ^ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fisheries Service, available at
  2. ^ Kevern L. Cochrane, A Fishery Manager’s Guidebook: Management Measures and their Application, Fisheries Technical Paper 424, available at
  3. ^ Robert Stewart, Oceanography in the 21st Century – An Online Textbook, Fisheries Issues, available at
  4. ^ FDA, AquAdvantage Salmon Approval Letter and Appendix (November 19, 2015), online: U.S. Food and Drug Administration <>.
  5. ^ FDA, Labeling & Nutrition, online: U.S. Food and Drug Administration <>.
  6. ^ 21 U.S.C. § 343(a)(1).
  7. ^ 21 U.S.C. § 321(n).
  8. ^ "Draft Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Food Has or Has Not Been Derived From Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon". Food. US FDA. November 19, 2015.
  9. ^ ISAAA, Beyond Promises: Top 10 Facts about Biotech/GM Crops in 2014, online: ISAA <>.
  10. ^ RSC 1985, c. F-27.
  11. ^ a b Government of Canada, Labelling of Genetically Engineered Foods in Canada, online: Canadian Food Inspection Agency <> Archived April 3, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Health Canada, Frequently Asked Questions – Biotechnology and Genetically Modified Foods, online: Food and Nutrition <>.
Bering Sea Arbitration

The Bering Sea Arbitration of 1893 arose out of a fishery dispute between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States in the 1880s. The United States Revenue Cutter Service, today known as the United States Coast Guard, captured several Canadian sealer vessels throughout the conflict. Diplomatic representations followed the capture of the first three ships and an order for release was issued by the British imperial government (then still in charge of foreign affairs for the Dominion of Canada), but it did nothing to stop the seizures and none were released. This led to the U.S. claiming exclusive jurisdiction over the sealing industry in the Bering Sea, and that led to negotiations outside of the courts. The award was given in favor of the British, however, and the Americans were denied exclusive jurisdiction. The British were awarded compensation for the damage that had been inflicted on their vessels, and the American sealing zone remained as it was prior to the conflict (60 miles).

Canada–France Maritime Boundary Case

The Canada–France Maritime Boundary Case was a 1992 dispute between Canada and France that was decided by an arbitral tribunal created by the parties to resolve the dispute. The case established the extent of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the French territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Cod fishing in Newfoundland

Cod fishing in Newfoundland was carried out at a subsistence level for centuries, but large scale fishing began shortly after the European discovery of the North American continent in 1492, with the waters being found to be preternaturally plentiful, and ended after intense overfishing with the collapse of the fisheries in 1992.

Common Fisheries Policy

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the fisheries policy of the European Union (EU). It sets quotas for which member states are allowed to catch each type of fish, as well as encouraging the fishing industry by various market interventions. In 2004 it had a budget of €931 million, approximately 0.75% of the EU budget.When it came into force, the Treaty of Lisbon formally enshrined fisheries conservation policy as one of the handful of "exclusive competences" reserved for the European Union, to be decided by Qualified Majority Voting. However, general fisheries policy remains a "shared competence" of the Union and its member states. Thus decisions are still made primarily by the Council of the European Union, as was the case previously.

The common fisheries policy was created to manage fish stock for the European Union as a whole. Article 38 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which created the European Communities (now European Union), stated that there should be a common policy for fisheries.

Exclusive economic zone

An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a sea zone prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from its coast. In colloquial usage, the term may include the continental shelf. The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nmi limit. The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a "sovereign right" which refers to the coastal state's rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.

Fish market

For the Sydney station, see Fish Market tram stop.

A fish market is a marketplace for selling fish products. It can be dedicated to wholesale trade between fishermen and fish merchants, or to the sale of seafood to individual consumers, or to both. Retail fish markets, a type of wet market, often sell street food as well.

Fish markets range in size from small fish stalls, such as the one in the photo at the right, to the great Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, turning over about 660,000 tonnes a year.The term fish market can also refer to the process of fish marketing in general, but this article is concerned with physical marketplaces.

Fisheries management

Fisheries management is the activity of protecting fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible, drawing on fisheries science, and including the precautionary principle. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management means to implement the rules, which are put in place by a system of monitoring control and surveillance. A popular approach is the ecosystem approach to fisheries management. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are "no clear and generally accepted definitions of fisheries management". However, the working definition used by the FAO and much cited elsewhere is:

The integrated process of information gathering, analysis, planning, consultation, decision-making, allocation of resources and formulation and implementation, with enforcement as necessary, of regulations or rules which govern fisheries activities in order to ensure the continued productivity of the resources and the accomplishment of other fisheries objectives.

Fisheries science

Fisheries science is the academic discipline of managing and understanding fisheries. It is a multidisciplinary science, which draws on the disciplines of limnology, oceanography, freshwater biology, marine biology, conservation, ecology, population dynamics, economics and management to attempt to provide an integrated picture of fisheries. In some cases new disciplines have emerged, as in the case of bioeconomics and fisheries law.

Fisheries science is typically taught in a university setting, and can be the focus of an undergraduate, master's or Ph.D. program. Some universities offer fully integrated programs in fisheries science.

Fishing license

A fishing license (US), fishing licence or fishing permit is a regulatory or legal mechanism to control fishing. Licensing is one mechanism of fisheries management and may be required for either commercial or recreational fishing.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is an international issue around the world. Industry observers believe IUU occurs in most fisheries, and accounts for up to 30% of total catches in some important fisheries.Illegal fishing takes place when vessels or harvesters operate in violation of the laws of a fishery. This can apply to fisheries that are under the jurisdiction of a coastal state or to high seas fisheries regulated by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMO). According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, illegal fishing has caused losses estimated at US$23 billion per year, with about 30% of illegal fishing in the world occurring in Indonesia alone.Unreported fishing is fishing that has been unreported or misreported to the relevant national authority or RFMO, in contravention of applicable laws and regulations.

Unregulated fishing generally refers to fishing by vessels without nationality, vessels flying the flag of a country not party to the RFMO governing that fishing area or species on the high seas, or harvesting in unregulated areas.

The drivers behind illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are similar to those behind many other types of international environmental crime: pirate fishers have a strong economic incentive – many species of fish, particularly those that have been over-exploited and are thus in short supply, are of high financial value.

Such IUU activity may then show a high chance of success – i.e. a high rate of return – from the failure of governments to regulate adequately (e.g. inadequate coverage of international agreements), or to enforce national or international laws (e.g. because of lack of capacity, or poor levels of governance). A particular driver behind IUU fishing is the failure of a number of flag states to exercise effective regulation over ships on their registers – which in turn creates an incentive for ships to register under these flags of convenience.

Since no one reports catches made by pirates, their level of fishing cannot be accurately quantified.

Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

The Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), commonly referred to as the Magnuson–Stevens Act (MSA), is the legal provision for promoting optimal exploitation of U.S. coastal fisheries. Enacted in 1976, it has since been amended in line with sustainability policy.

Regional councils of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determine when a stock is overfished, and apply both regional and individual catch limits. The NMFS has implemented the Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI), which measures key stocks according to their overfishing status and biomass levels.

Marine reserve

A marine reserve is a type of marine protected area that has legal protection against fishing or development. As of 2007 less than 1% of the world's oceans had been set aside in marine reserves. Benefits include increases in the diversity, density, biomass, body size and reproductive potential of fishery and other species within their boundaries.As of 2010, scientists had studied more than 150 marine reserves in at least 61 countries and monitored biological changes inside the reserves. The number of species in each study ranged from 1 to 250 and the reserves ranged in size from 0.006 to 800 square kilometers (0.002 to 310 square miles). In 2014, the World Parks Association adopted a target of establishing no-take zones for 30% of each habitat globally.

Merchant Shipping Act 1988

The Merchant Shipping Act 1988 c.12 was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom. It aimed to prevent foreign fishing fleets from fishing in British territorial waters. In the Factortame case, its provisions in Parts I and II, Registration of British Ships, were disapplied by the House of Lords when they were found to conflict with European Community law and the Common Fisheries Policy. Part II dealt only with fishing vessels and was found to be repugnant by the European Court of Justice. The subsequent definition of British Ships is found in the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.


Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish from a body of water at a rate that the species cannot replenish in time, resulting in those species either becoming depleted or very underpopulated in that given area. Overfishing has spread all over the globe and has been present for centuries.

Overfishing can occur in water bodies of any sizes, such as ponds, rivers, lakes or oceans, and can result in resource depletion, reduced biological growth rates and low biomass levels. Sustained overfishing can lead to critical depensation, where the fish population is no longer able to sustain itself. Some forms of overfishing, such as the overfishing of sharks, has led to the upset of entire marine ecosystems.The ability of a fishery to recover from overfishing depends on whether the ecosystem's conditions are suitable for the recovery. Dramatic changes in species composition can result in an ecosystem shift, where other equilibrium energy flows involve species compositions different from those that had been present before the depletion of the original fish stock. For example, once trout have been overfished, carp might take over in a way that makes it impossible for the trout to re-establish a breeding population.

Pacific Salmon Commission

The Pacific Salmon Commission is a regulatory body run jointly by the Canadian and United States governments. Its mandate is to protect stocks of the five species of Pacific salmon. Its precursor was the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission, which operated from 1937 to 1985. The PSC enforces the Pacific Salmon Treaty, ratified by Canada and the U.S. in 1985.

Royal fish

Under the law of the United Kingdom, whales and sturgeons are royal fish, and when taken become the personal property of the monarch of the United Kingdom as part of his or her royal prerogative.

Slot limit

A protected slot limit is a tool used by fisheries managers to regulate the size of fish that can legally be harvested from particular bodies of water. Usually set by state fish and game departments, the protected slot limit prohibits the harvest of fish where the lengths, measured from the snout to the end of the tail, fall within the protected interval. For example, on a body of water where there is a protected slot limit on largemouth bass between 12 and 16 inches, largemouth between 12 inches and 16 inches may not be harvested. In this example largemouth bass less than 12 inches and greater than 16 inches may be removed from the water and kept for personal use in accordance with local fishing regulations.

Slot limits are based on the principle that bass populations exhibit different habitat requirements during different phases of their life histories. Slot limits focus on protecting one segment of the life history which can influence overall fishing success.A minimum landing size is a similar regulation in other areas.

State v. Elliott

State v. Elliott, 616 A.2d 210 (Vt. 1992), is a decision of the Vermont Supreme Court holding that all aboriginal title in Vermont was extinguished "by the increasing weight of history." The Vermont Supreme Court has clarified that its holding in Elliott applies to the entire state.

Territorial waters

The term territorial waters is sometimes used informally to refer to any area of water over which a state has jurisdiction, including internal waters, the territorial sea (see below), the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and potentially the continental shelf. In a narrower sense, the term is used as a synonym for the territorial sea.


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