Conservation (obligation regarding)

25 October 2012 | Article



The observation concerning the relative extent of obligations within international law can be applied with regard to the obligation concerning conservation of resources on the high sea [1] and in the EEZ [2].

In the case of the EEZ, the burden of the obligation regarding conservation, and also the obligation regarding cooperation, is lighter because, with regard to the exploitation and conservation of natural resources, the coastal State disposes of sovereign rights: it enjoys sovereignty in the establishment of its resource management policies and accepts no interference in them.

This is obviously likely to create problems related to the quality of the management measures and the capacity to ensure observance whenever States do not dispose of sufficient means to assess their resources, organize their exploitation or verify compliance with the measures they have adopted. (Cf. Effectiveness of the law).

In the Mediterranean, this problem is even greater, as the cramped nature of the marine area implies a high level of ecological interdependence among EEZs which have been established by the States. It seems, however, that this difficulty could be overcome by the creation of a common EEZ by several - if not all - of the bordering and neighbouring Mediterranean States. Such a creation would make it possible to share means, especially technical skills and the organization of controls. It is, however, worth noting that the GFCM and ICCAT [3] already offer some possibilities for mutual assistance in terms of technical skills, and can serve on a support basis for the organization of shared management of resources in the Mediterranean.

[1] UNCLOS, from article 119.

[2] UNCLOS, from article 61.


Mediterranean landscape