Can the South China Sea Tribunal’s Conclusions on Traditional Fishing Rights Lead to Cooperative Fishing Arrangements in the Region?
journal contributionposted on 27.08.2020, 23:31 authored by Joanna MossopJoanna Mossop
Disputes over territorial sovereignty have motivated states to take confrontational positions in respect of vessels from other states fishing in areas around disputed features in the South China Sea. This article suggests that the doctrine of traditional fishing rights, as expressed in the South China Sea Arbitral Award, could provide a legal mechanism that allows states to cooperate on fisheries management without compromising their sovereign claims. However the Tribunal’s conclusions on traditional fishing left a number of key questions unresolved that would need to be subject to further negotiation. There are considerable practical obstacles, especially a lack of political will, that would probably prevent such an agreement from coming to fruition. Nevertheless, this article provides an assessment of a potential option that could be used to foster cooperative fishing arrangements in a particularly contested maritime space.