||Fransisco Orrego Vicuna
||Cambridge University Press
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The principles and rules governing high seas fisheries have long been a matter of debate under international law. The freedom of fishing in the high seas is generally considered one of the fundamental principles underlying the regime of the oceans beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, a principle indeed embodied both in customary international law and in the major codification conventions on the law of the sea. Evolving economic realities and technological developments led. however, to increasing pressures on the resources of the oceans which in turn gave place to competing interests between various groups of states. For a good number of decades this competition for fisheries took on the form of a conflict of interests between long-distant fishing nations and coastal states. The expansion of maritime areas under national jurisdiction, with particular reference to the enactment of exclusive economic zones and exclusive fisheries zones, was the outcome of this period, a situation largely consolidated under the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and related developments. The implications of this extension of national jurisdiction in the international legal system have been well studied and will not be discussed in the context of this work. The issue of high seas fisheries, however, was not entirely put to rest because of the above developments. In respect of this matter, the Convention on the Law of the Sea contained only some very general principles while providing some guiding rules about given species, such as straddling stocks, highly migratory species, marine mammals, anadromous species and others. Basic rules on international cooperation were also built into the Convention. Although the aggregate of these provisions meant an important step in the clarification of the law and the accommodation of interests, they were not sufficient to support a new and standing regime for high seas fisheries.