For centuries, nations treated ocean resources as limitless, as resources that could withstand limitless exploitation. This “freedom of the seas” approach to exploitation led to sharp declines in whales, sea turtles and numerous other species, and filled our oceans with oil, heavy metals, solid waste and other pollution. The freedom of the seas finally gave way to an extensive array of international treaties, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, designed to manage and protect living and non-living resources and to prevent pollution.
IELP’s oceans and fisheries work reflects both a commitment to the sustainability of our ocean resources and a deep understanding of current legal issues. Within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), IELP has negotiated rules for issuing permits for trade in CITES-protected species taken on the high seas (“introduction from the sea”) and advised advocates on legal strategies for protecting marine mammals, Atlantic Bluefin tuna, and sharks. In Central America, IELP’s efforts have led to a sea turtle conservation management plan. IELP has also advocated for transparency and public participation at the Pacific Salmon Commission, a decision-making body for a bilateral agreement between the United States and Canada on salmon fisheries. For more information on IELP’s oceans and fisheries work, please see our project stories below.
With many commercially valuable fish stocks crashing and the Parties to the CITES debating a proposal that would effectively ban the commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, IELP has been instrumental in unraveling a number of complicated legal questions.
On May 8, 1998, the governments of Costa Rica and Panama signed the Cooperative Agreement for the Conservation of Sea Turtles of the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. IELP played a central role.
IELP has been working as part of the Pacific Salmon Treaty Reform Coalition to gain access to the meetings of the Pacific Salmon Commission, which makes harvest allocations for oceanic salmon fisheries and other important decisions regarding one of the Northwest’s most prized natural resources.
IELP has been helping the International Whaling Commission (IWC) find its way in the modern era of environmental law by preparing detailed comparative assessments of compliance regimes to provide a basis for the adoption of new regulations for the resumption of commercial whaling.
The International Environmental Law Project is located in The Lewis & Clark Law School.