Potential Climate Change Litigation under the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement

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Potential Climate Change Litigation under the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement: Dr. Wil Burns

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Potential Climate Change Litigation under the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement

  1. 1. A Voice for the Fish?: Climate Change and Potential Actions under the UN Fish Stocks Agreement Dr. Wil Burns, Santa Clara University School of Law Southwestern Law School Canada Summer Abroad Program June 6, 2008
  2. 2. ROADMAP <ul><li>Define “straddling stocks” and “highly migratory species” and examples </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the potential impacts of climate change on straddling and highly migratory fish stocks; </li></ul><ul><li>Outline the history of the Fish Stocks Convention and provisions germane to a cause of action for climate change impacts; </li></ul><ul><li>Briefly discuss potential barriers to such an action. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Highly Migratory Species Bluefin Tuna Pomfret Marlin Mackerel Saurie
  4. 4. Straddling Stocks Pollock Atlantic Cod Atlantic Halibut Hake
  5. 5. Pteropods
  6. 6. <ul><li>Article 5 </li></ul><ul><li>In order to conserve and manage straddling fish stocks and </li></ul><ul><li>highly migratory fish stocks, coastal States and States </li></ul><ul><li>fishing on the high seas shall, in giving effect to their duty </li></ul><ul><li>to cooperate in accordance with the Convention: </li></ul><ul><li>(a) adopt measures to ensure long-term sustainability of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and promote the objective of their optimum utilization </li></ul><ul><li>(d) assess the impacts of fishing, other human activities and environmental factors on target stocks and species belonging to the same ecosystem or associated with or dependent upon the target stocks </li></ul><ul><li>(f) minimize pollution . . . [emphasis added] </li></ul><ul><li>(g) protect biodiversity in the marine environment </li></ul>Conservation Provisions: UNFSA
  7. 7. UNCLOS, Article 287 <ul><li>1. When signing, ratifying or acceding to this Convention or at any time thereafter, a State shall be free to choose, by means of a written declaration, one or more of the following means for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention: </li></ul><ul><li>(a) the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea established in accordance with Annex VI; </li></ul><ul><li>(b) the International Court of Justice; </li></ul><ul><li>(c) an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII; </li></ul><ul><li>(d) a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII for one or more of the categories of disputes specified therein. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Responsibility/Liability - UNFSA <ul><li>Article 35 </li></ul><ul><li>States Parties are liable in accordance </li></ul><ul><li>with international law for damage or loss </li></ul><ul><li>attributable to them in regard to this </li></ul><ul><li>Agreement. </li></ul>
  9. 9. UNFCCC: Preamble <ul><li>Recalling also that States have, in accordance </li></ul><ul><li>with the Charter of the United Nations and the </li></ul><ul><li>principles of international law . . . the </li></ul><ul><li>responsibility to ensure that activities within </li></ul><ul><li>their jurisdiction or control do not cause </li></ul><ul><li>damage to the environment of other States or of </li></ul><ul><li>areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction . </li></ul><ul><li>(emphasis added) </li></ul>
  10. 10. UNCLOS, Annex VIII <ul><li>Article 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Subject to Part XV, any party to a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the articles of this Convention relating to (1) fisheries, (2) protection and preservation of the marine environment , (3) marine scientific research, or (4) navigation, including pollution from vessels and by dumping, may submit the dispute to the special arbitral procedure provided for in this Annex by written notification addressed to the other party or parties to the dispute . . . [emphasis added] </li></ul>
  11. 11. UNCLOS, Annex VIII <ul><li>Article 2 </li></ul><ul><li>1. A list of experts shall be established and maintained in respect of each of the fields of (1) fisheries, (2) protection and preservation of the marine environment . . . </li></ul><ul><li>2. The lists of experts shall be drawn up and maintained, in the field of fisheries by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in the field of protection and preservation of the marine environment by the United Nations Environment Programme . . . </li></ul>
  12. 12. “ The Motion has been made and seconded that we stick our heads in the sand.”

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