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Straddling Stocks Maintained by UNEP  
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Straddling stocks are stocks of fish such as pollock, which migrate between, or occur in both, the economic exclusive zone (EEZ) of one or more States and the high seas. Thus, the definition also includes highly migratory fish stocks. There have been problems in most of the relatively few areas where straddling stocks exist in commercially attractive quantities. As regards conservation (i.e. the prevention of over- fishing) one threat is that vessels fishing for those stocks on the high seas will undermine any management measures taken by a coastal State in its EEZ. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has only one provision dealing with straddling fish stocks (Article 63(2)) which calls for co- operation measures in the high seas while failing to provide any substantive guidance as to how the problems involved with regulating straddling stocks are to be addressed.
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 formulated in 1995 as a supplement to the 1982 UNCLOS aims to resolve these problems. The Straddling Stocks Agreement runs to fifty articles and two annexes. It is concerned primarily with stocks that are beyond the limits of national jurisdiction and sets out the principles that should govern the conservation and management of such species both by the coastal State within its EEZ and by the coastal State and other States on the high sea. Particular attention is paid to flag states. The Agreement's Preamble recalls the provisions of Agenda 21 regarding high seas fisheries (Agenda 21, Paragraphs 17.44 to 17.88). States parties to the Agreement are to apply the precautionary principle (Article 6 and Annex II), meaning being 'more cautious when information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate' (Article 6(2)); ensure the long-term sustainability and optimum utilisation of the stocks concerned; minimise discards (i.e., fish thrown back into the sea (usually dead) after being caught, because they are too small or the wrong species); prevent or eliminate over-fishing and excess fishing capacity; protect marine biodiversity; collect data concerning fishing activities; etc.
Among the mechanisms set out for giving effect to the obligation to co-operate in the conservation and management of straddling stocks on the high seas, members of regional fisheries organisations or arrangements are to establish schemes whereby one member can board and inspect vessels of any State Party to the Straddling Stocks Agreement, even if it is not a member of the regional fisheries organisation or arrangement (Article 34).
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