Unilateral trade measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing: unlocking a paradigm change in trade-environmental partnerships?

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Abstract

The decades-long yet steady transition of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from value judgement towards procedural empowerment delivers a new impetus to consolidated trade-environmental partnerships in a collective campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Although there is an ideal preference for multilateral approaches to address the widespread phenomena of IUU fishing and associated human rights injustice, this article probes an increasingly proactive role of unilateral trade measures to close the supply chain loopholes for IUU-caught fish to enter commerce. Unilateral and trade-restrictive modalities against IUU fishing are embodied by the 2008 European Union IUU Regulation and the 2016 United States Seafood Import Monitoring Program. Innovative trade paradigms should avoid compromising the consensus-building momentum under multilateral governance frameworks in the longer term. Better regulated and coordinated unilateral measures can become a useful pathfinder to globalized strategies. To this end, the WTO needs to work more closely and effectively with the Food and Agriculture Organization and regional fisheries management organizations to ensure that unilateral responses are transparent, well-reasoned and emerge from a rational process of communication and argumentation among supply chain parties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages759-782
Volume53
No.5
Specialist publicationJournal of World Trade
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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