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Policies and Legislation

Last updated: 17/06/2014

The oceans are vast, covering 140 million square miles or some 70 per cent of the earth’s surface.

Attempts have been made through the years to regulate the use of the oceans in a single convention that is acceptable to all nations. This effort finally culminated with the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has gained nearly universal acceptance since its entry into force on 16 November 1994.

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United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

UNCLOS came into force in 1994, and to date 160 countries and the European Union have joined in the Convention. Read more.

UN Fish Stocks Agreement

The UN Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 sets out principles for the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks and establishes that such management must be based on the precautionary approach and the best available scientific information. Read more.

FAO Code of Conduct

To promote long-term sustainable fisheries, the FAO Conference adopted the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in 1995. The Code is global in scope. Read more.

FAO International Plans of Action (IPOAs)

The IPOAs of FAO are voluntary instruments elaborated within the framework of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Four IPOAs have been developed to date: on seabirds, sharks, the management of fishing capacity, and illegal fishing. Read more.