International Framework of Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: With Reference to Policy and Legislative Practices of Malaysia

International Framework of Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: With Reference to Policy and Legislative Practices of Malaysia

Mohammad Zaki Ahmad (Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9806-2.ch014
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Abstract

Ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) framework has assumed an important position within the broader management strategies of harvesting and managing marine fisheries without compromising the integrity and health of marine ecosystems. The EAF concept, embedded in many international instruments, is a testament of a growing recognition of the need to adopt a more holistic approach in fisheries governance by the international community. Attaining the full effect of the EAF framework would require States to have political will to implement this framework. With this in mind, this chapter analyses the extent to which Malaysia has adopted EAF framework for its marine fisheries management. It begins by examining the principles and management measures under international fisheries instruments regarding the EAF. It includes discussion of why the global community recognizes the EAF regime. Most significantly, Malaysia's national policy and legislative frameworks vis-à-vis the EAF principles and measures are also analyzed. This chapter recommends policy and legal reforms to address the gaps relevant to the implementation of EAF.
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Introduction

The incorporation of the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) into the legal and normative framework of international fisheries-related instruments is a testament to the growing recognition by the global community on the need to adopt a more holistic approach in fisheries governance (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2005, p. 4). By far the most significant of these instruments came into existence following the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) in 1982. These post-LOSC instruments - legally-binding multilateral treaties, declarations, guidelines, and resolutions - were, either discussed or negotiated, and eventually adopted at varying stages of meetings and fora under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly or the FAO. The rest were approved through separate initiatives by regional fisheries bodies around the world.

Some notable fisheries-related instruments with explicit and implicit reference to the guiding principles and management measures of the EAF include the FAO Compliance Agreement,1 the UN Fish Stocks Agreement,2 and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.3 Additional set of instruments for responsible fisheries in which the EAF framework were drawn upon, consist of non-binding International Plans of Actions (IPOAs) that individually deal with specific issues in the field of fisheries management, explicitly shark management, seabird by-catch, fishing capacity, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.4 The rest of instruments of relevance to the EAF framework were the outcome of a series of intergovernmental conferences organized for addressing the complexities of sustainable resources management and development, such as the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Synonymous with the recognition of EAF in the above-mentioned global fisheries-related instruments is the increased commitment by States in implementing this particular approach (FAO, 2014, p. 75). Nevertheless, no matter how comprehensive the international legal and policy framework for responsible fisheries is, accomplishing the full potential and effectiveness of this framework would entail State to have the political will, along with the technical and financial capacity, to fully implement and comply with this international regime.

Therefore, this chapter analyses the extent to which Malaysia has adopted the EAF framework for the sustainable and responsible management and conservation of marine fisheries in Malaysian Fisheries Waters. It is worth noting that the coverage area “Malaysian Fisheries Waters” encompasses three distinctive maritime jurisdictional zones sanctioned by the LOSC, namely, the internal water, the territorial sea and the EEZ. As an illustration, the latter two measured seaward from the baselines. The first objective of this chapter is to provide background of and to examine the principles and management measures under international fisheries instruments regarding the exercise of the EAF. This chapter also discusses the impetus behind the global community’s increasingly recognition of the EAF regime as reflected by its adoption of the various instruments that in turn are critical in securing the long-term viability of marine capture fisheries industry and the global economic health. Second, this chapter analyses Malaysia’s national policy and legislative frameworks, which have referred to or adopted EAF principles and measures. Finally, it examines the gaps in the frameworks relevant to the implementation of the international framework of EAF, and where applicable, recommends policy and legal reforms to address the identified gaps.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Catch Discard: The practices of returning, either dead or alive, unwanted catch of fish or marine mammal, to the sea.

Biodiversity: The variability of life on Earth encompassing different organisms, species, genetics, and ecosystems. Their interconnectedness and interactions with the environment create the complexity of life on Earth.

Post-LOSC Fisheries Instruments: Legally- and non-legally binding written agreements or guidelines on fisheries governance adopted after 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Responsible Fisheries: An umbrella term implying to a set of interconnected approaches to the management, conservation and harvesting of sustainable living aquatic resources based on accountability, science, information and prescriptive regulation.

Ecosystem: An ecological community of living organisms interconnecting each other and with their physical environment in a given area.

Destructive Fishing: A practice that uses fishing gear and technique, such as bottom-trawling, cyanide fishing, and fish bombing, that destroy fisheries habitat and inflict damage to marine environment.

By-Catch: Unintentional catch of non-targeted fish or other marine species including sharks, seabirds, sea turtles and dolphins.

Selective Fishing: A fishing method designed with the ability to capture targeted fish based on species and size while allowing non-targeted fish or marine mammals to escape unharmed.

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