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International Environmental Law Project (IELP)

Oceans and Fisheries


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.


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International Environmental Law Project (IELP)

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