International Treaty

To ensure that our solution reaches the highest pinnacles of government and society, we have developed an international forum for discussion, regulation, and innovation in the realm of marine ecosystems and fisheries protection. Currently, the UN Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea governs codifies conventional international law (EarthTrust). The Law of the Sea, or LOS, has been supplemented by other legislation, including the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. It is our vision to call another UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Preservation of the Oceans. This Convention would concern the introduction of a new agreement (treaty) among nations to meet the following objectives as defined by Mission 2011: end overfishing, preserve marine ecosystems, and develop alternative measures to meet the nutritional needs of the international populace.

Our solution attempts to address a global problem - a problem that will affect billions of people - so we need an implementation scheme that seeks international consensus. Therefore, we are proposing a treaty, as opposed to introducing a new intergovernmental body, specifically because the infrastructure to enact it already exists, thereby increasing the credibility of our solution and the probability of international implementation.

Provisions of the Treaty

The Agreement for the Introduction of Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Preservation of the Oceans will include the aquaculture, marine protected area, climate, environment, fishery management, technology, plans for future research, and additional international cooperation aspects of our solution. Some examples of treaty specifics include:

How to Introduce the Treaty

To implement this Treaty, a Convention of the United Nations must be called, upon which time member states will discuss and debate the merits of the Treaty until a consensus can be reached, as occurred in the Third Convention of the Law of the Sea (Koh).

The Argument for a new Treaty

The current Law of the Sea and other maritime legislation governing the international community is simply not effective enough: if it were effective, then the Mission 2011 class would have researched an alternate topic. The current version of the Law of the Sea has been in effect since the early 1980s, but global fish consumption has not decreased, and the ecological degradation to the oceans has only worsened. New action is necessary to save the globe's largest natural resource. The United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (in force as from 11 December 2001), which was passed at the United Nations Conference held from 1993-1995, calls for the conservation of fish stocks, one of our primary goals, through vague and insubstantial suggestions: Part II, Article V (an overview of the General Principles of the Agreement), calls for measures to "ensure long-term sustainability of... fish stocks," including protecting biodiversity, assessing the impacts of human activities and environmental factors, preventing overfishing, minimizing pollution and waste deposited in the oceans, adopting "conservation and management measures for species belonging to the same ecosystem or associated with or dependent upon the target stocks," collecting and sharing data on fish stocks in a "timely manner," promoting and conducting research to develop "appropriate" fishery technologies, and implementing and enforcing monitoring and surveillance measures to ensure compliance. This article and others like it in the Agreement and in LOS aim for the same general principles as Mission, but fail to require solid and definitive action.

Tommy T.B. Koh, President of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, said that the Law of the Sea was a "monumental achievement, second only to the Charter of the United Nations" (Koh). Our proposal is equally progressive in an age that may doubt the ability of the international community to take action---but it is possible, and even more importantly, it is necessary. 

Our solution is innovative, integrating the newest research, fresh perspectives in international governance, and a true desire to save the oceans. This treaty is unique in that it attempts to ensure the welfare of the oceans, not just the fisheries.

The Structure and Enforcement of the Treaty

Many regions of the world have regional fishing bodies (RFBs), which organize nations to work before a common goal of conserving fisheries. Although these groups have had limited success we would like to implement them into our plan with a significant change in their role. Currently RFBs have the ability to join the International Seabed Authority, under Part XI, Section 4, Article 156, and to sign the Law of the Sea, under Part XVII, Article 305 and Annex IX, Article 1, so to include them in the adoption of a new treaty can be considered already supported and lawful. RFBs are beneficial because they are much more specific than any single global organization. RFBS consist of a small number of countries that can better address their own regional issues, allowing for more efficient and precise decisions (Role of Regional Fishing Bodies, 1999).

At the moment there are 6 RFBs that are linked to the FAO, as well as many which are outside the discression of the FAO. This treaty calls for RFBs covering all portions of the ocean, under the discression of the FAO. This would be accomplished in one of two ways: additional RFBs could be created under the FAO to cover the regions not covered by the 6 existing ones, or existing non-FAO RFBs could be integrated to fill the positions. In any case, the purpose is to integrate more RFBs under a centralized purpose into the governing of the oceans (Role of RFBs, 1999).

RFBs, in general, have been ineffective in influencing the policies of their member states, despite the use of management and conservation "instruments"  allocated by the UN Fish Stock Agreement (Role of RFBs, 1999). Therefore, any RFBs integrated through the treaty will be determined by the history of management practices and effectiveness. Otherwise we would advocate the creation of new RFBs.

These RFBs would follow the guidelines already set by the conventions requiring any member nations to provide monitoring and enforcement in their waters. These RFBs would then act to control their regions in a way similar to how the United States fisheries have been run. Each RFB will have a scientific committee - to create an annual report on the state of the location and to set annual catch limits for the member nations to follow - and an economic committee to assist each country with the implementation of the provisions of the treaty.

Regional Tribunals will correspond to the RFBs and will be an intermediary for the Tribunal established by LOS. The intention is for the Regional Tribunals to settle disputes more quickly and efficiently because boards will be more familiar with the region's conflicts. If a member chooses to appeal the Regional Tribunal's decision, or if a conflict is inter-regional, then the case will go the Tribunal.

The enforcement of this treaty to deter IUU practices is two-fold: disputes and suspicions of illegal activity are settled through the Tribunal system, while international enforcement to deter IUU fishing is the responsibility of member states. This Treaty calls for the implementation of regulatory fleets (similar to the U.S. Coast Guard) to patrol the EEZ of a member State. The treaty encourages the strict enforcement - enabled by GPS tracking - through boat confiscation and freezing of assets. On the high seas, it is any member State's responsibility to report illegal activity to the Tribunals of other member States. If a non-member is found to be defying the regulations outlines by this treaty or other UN laws relating to the seas, then it is the responsibility of each member State to stop all commercial agreements with this party (as per the aforementioned provisions of the treaty).

Because States are not permitted to trade with or allow unsustainable flag-hopping ships (ships that fish using unsustainable methods under other flags to avoid breaking this treaty) to fly their flag, any ship found to break this agreement will be possessed by the member State. The State may freeze the assets of the offender until the ship and catch are rendered. The State may then sell the seized vessels and materials or use them as it sees fit.


Nations with any interest in preserving a resource that billions of people depend on daily will be obligated to sign this document, as it is the only measure currently capable of addressing the global crisis. This treaty is modeled after science and policy currently being researched and implemented all over the world. In most cases, this Treaty simply improves upon the actions already being taken by states in an attempt to progress existing initiatives.

Additional incentive for member states to join is trade and economic benefits. Precedent shows that major fishing states, such as Japan, Russia, China, the European Commission, Iceland, Indonesia, India, the Maldives, and Malaysia (the United States is preparing to vote on the ratification of the LOS), support UN efforts to preserve the oceans. If these states also sign this Treaty agree to refrain from trade in illegally caught or unsustainably caught fish, which encourages nations with economic interests to sign.

Also important to consider is that proposed treaties are debated and modified in Convention, allowing for more international consensus. The Third Convention on Law of the Sea took nine years to complete but made history nonetheless(Koh).

Support and Precedent

Though one of the primary goals of the Mission 2011 team has been developing creative incentives to encourage maximal international support, we are also prepared to acknowledge that full compliance is unrealistic and most unlikely. Skeptics may claim that without support of a few key states, such as the United States, Japan, or China, the organization would fail, as the International Court of Justice has. There is evidence, however, to suggest that if public awareness and education campaigns are successful, that we could effectively achieve the aims of the organization without the support of a given nation. After the U.S. government rejected the Kyoto Protocol, considered by many to be a "death warrant"(Borger, 2001), the individual states and cities in America responded with force: nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are currently leading the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is developing a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions that they hope other states will join (RGGI, About RGGI); California recently passed the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, which will require major industries to cut emissions 25% by 2020 (Doerr, 2006); and the mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels, has made "climate change a cornerstone of his administration," reducing Seattle's emissions 8% below 1990 levels (Cornwall, 2007). Nickels also hosted a global-warming conference of U.S. mayors in mid-October and has succeeded in getting more than 650 mayors from across the states to take the pledge to reduce emissions (Cornwall, 2007). Clearly, political support on the national level is not the deciding factor in an initiative's efficacy. We hope to achieve the same public fervor and rally of support as yet one more means to our end: saving the oceans.

Our solution is also similar to legislation passed in the UN and individual countries. Past UN legislation regarding the oceans has experienced success: the Law of the Sea made history when 119 members signed the very first day, more than any other agreement in the history of the UN (Koh); and the Fish Stocks Agreement, though boasting less signatories, has achieved the support of major fishing nations from across the globe, including the Bahamas, Saint Pierre and Miquelon (via France), Greenland (via Denmark), Faeroe Island (via Denmark), Iceland, Portugal, Japan, Maldives, Kiribati, Montserrat, and Tonga (NMFS, 2006). Additionally, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (amended in 2007) of the United States, outlines many of the same provisions as the proposed Treaty, and also clearly supports ratified UN agreements: Section 606 states that, "The President shall utilize appropriate assets of the Department of Defense, the United States Coast Guard, and other Federal agencies to detect, monitor, and prevent violations of the United Nations moratorium on large-scale driftnet fishing on the high seas for all fisheries under the jurisdiction of the United States and, in the case of fisheries not under the jurisdiction of the United States, to the fullest extent permitted under international law" (P.L. 95-265, 2007).

Though our plan proposes measures unprecedented in UN agreements (such as our international tax plan and the firm stance on halting trade of IUU fish), there have been several cases of past radical movements to save the environment, primarily the removal of lead from gasoline, the sharp decrease in CFCs to preserve the ozone layer, and the introduction of dolphin-safe tuna.

There is also evidence to suggest that world powers, such as the United States, would support the hard restrictions against flags of convenience and unsustainable (including IUU) fish: Section 603 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act states, "The United States, or any agency or official acting on behalf of the United States, may not enter into any international agreement with respect to the conservation and management of living marine resources or the use of the high seas by fishing vessels that would prevent full implementation of the global moratorium on large-scale driftnet fishing on the high seas, as such moratorium is expressed in Resolution 46/215 of the United Nations General Assembly" (P.L. 94-265, 2007).

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