Linked IN

Ocean Law Bulletins

James Sloan


Recent Posts

Marine Pollution in the Pacific Ocean - The International Legal Framework - how it works and its challenges for Pacific Island Countries

Sep 16, 2018 / by James Sloan posted in Marine Conservation, Forum Fisheries Agency, Environmental Impact Assessments, fisheries law, marine pollution from shipping, Fiji Environmental law, Law of the Sea Convention, Sovereign Rights, Integrated Oceans Management Pacific, Marine Spatial Planning Pacific, Pacific Ocean Rights, Blue Economy, Raising Pacific Voices, Pacific Island Rights, Large Ocean States, Marine Pollution, UN Oceans

Pollution of the oceans and marine environment is an important issue for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) because it damages natural resources, reduces the economic value of PICs' legal rights to those resources, and negatively impacts fishing communities as well as income generating activities like tourism.

A significant challenge is that marine pollution comes from many sources and most of those sources are land based, including but not limited to, careless discard of plastics. For more information on plastic pollution in the Pacific ocean please see here

This legal bulletin examines the overall international legal framework for the protection and preservation of the marine environment set out in the the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) and suggests other actions that PICs, regional organisations, and CSOs may take in accordance with LOSC to address marine pollution in the Pacific ocean.

Read More

Pacific Ocean Legal Rights: The implications for a Pacific Blue Economy, the importance of Integrated Oceans Management and the vital role of Civil Society Organisations

Sep 5, 2018 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, UNCLOS, International Law, Maritime boundaries, Sovereignty, Integrated Oceans Management Policy, Law of the Sea Convention, Sovereign Rights, Integrated Oceans Management Pacific, Marine Spatial Planning Pacific, Pacific Ocean Rights, traditional rights, Pacific Blue Economy, Blue Economy, Raising Pacific Voices, Oxfam in the Pacific, Pacific Island Rights, Large Ocean States

Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have legal rights to and within enormous ocean areas. These legal rights are, to a large extent, provided by operation of international law and are codified in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC).

The LOSC is often referred to as a “Constitution for the Oceans” because, amongst other things, it sets out and regulates the recognised legal rights that the international community agree that all nations have on or in the ocean to undertake or benefit from various activities that include but are not limited to navigation, fishing and other extractive industry. The LOSC also allocates the legal rights to PICs over and within ocean “zones” that includes the large Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). However, fisheries and marine scientists suggest that the sustainable use and management of the PICs’ valuable marine resources can only be achieved by Integrated Oceans Management based on eco-systems and not ocean zones.

In this legal bulletin we set out why the Pacific Island Countries have sufficient legal rights to build and implement effective oceans integrated management systems to support the development of their national and regional blue economies in a way that best suits them and based on an ecosystems approach. However, to meet good governance outcomes (successful, equitable, sustainable) those management systems must be suited to the context of PICs which means that the collective process to create those systems must be inclusive, practical and carefully undertaken.

Read More

Fiji's Minister for Fisheries has created two new Marine Reserves with Regulations made under powers conferred by section 9 of the Fisheries Act, 1941

Jan 30, 2018 / by James Sloan posted in Marine Protected Areas, Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Traditional fishing rights, Inshore fisheries, administrative law, Environmental decision making, Fiji law

On, Friday, 19th January 2018 by Legal Notices No. 3 and No. 4 the Honourable Minister for Fisheries exercised his powers pursuant to section 9 of the Fisheries Act, Cap 158 (Fisheries Act) to create two new marine reserves in inshore areas within Fiji’s fisheries waters.

The creation of the marine reserves has been by way of Regulations that are cited as:

Fisheries (Kiuva Marine Reserve) Regulations 2018
Fisheries (Naiqoro Passage Spawning Aggregation Marine Reserve) Regulations 2018.

In this legal bulletin we set out the powers that section 9 of the Fisheries Act provides to the Minister for Fisheries to create and declare marine reserves via Regulations. We also expand on the effect of these new Regulations that have been brought into force by being published (gazetted) in Fiji’s Government Gazette.

Read More

Fiji’s natural resources: governance and decision-making, the importance of participating

Jan 10, 2018 / by James Sloan posted in Traditional fishing rights, Fiji Oceans, environmental law, The Environment Management Act, Fiji's Constitution, Environmental governance, Environmental decision making, EIA, Environmental Impact Assessments

Fiji is a common law jurisdiction and a constitutional democracy that guarantees its citizens the right to a clean and healthy environment.

Fiji's Constitution and environmental laws also guarantee the rights of those concerned by any development that may have a significant impact on the environment to participate in the decision-making process. 

In this bulletin we consider how those who are concerned may exercise their rights to participate in decisions that will ultimately assist Fiji, its government and people better safeguard the environment, ocean and natural resources that are so vital for its economy and well being. 

Read More

The Forum Fisheries Agency has considered how to improve working conditions in commercial fishing

Oct 25, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, human rights at sea, Flags of convenience, UNCLOS, Commercial fishing, ILO Convention c188, Crewing conditions on Commercial Fishing vessels, Forum Fisheries Agency

Between 9-12 October 2017, the Forum Fisheries Agency hosted a Crewing Workshop in Honiara, Solomon Islands to discuss how to increase the benefits to Pacific Island economies from their fisheries resources. The Crewing Workshop addressed 2 questions:

  1. How to promote Pacific Islander crewing and increase Pacific Islander crew numbers on fishing vessels.
  2. How to develop and ensure minimum employment standards for any Pacific Islander fishing crew employed in the commercial fishing industry.

These questions were considered over 4 days by Government officials, training school representatives and private sector representatives from Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. This bulletin sets out the complex legal and governance challenges and the outcomes from the FFA workshop.

Read More

Oceans and Climate Change: how can Pacific Islands rise to the challenge?

Oct 23, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Pacific, Fiji mangroves, Marine Protected Areas, UNCLOS, climate change, Maritime boundaries, Marine Conservation

The Pacific Island States have a moral authority to call on developed and developing States to curb their CO2 emissions which are the main cause of Climate Change. This is a message that Fiji will, on behalf of the people of the Pacific, lead with when it co-hosts COP23 in Bonn, Germany in November 2017.

In facing the unprecedented challenge of climate change Pacific Island States are also clear about what they want. This includes:

  • The global temperature rise stays below 1.5 degrees celsius
  • Healthy oceans with functioning ecosystems to enable the oceans to continue to capture CO2
  • Meeting the adaptation challenges in coastal areas and on low lying atolls
  • Climate financing for oceans/fisheries projects that promote sustainable use of resources and the return of a fair income from the sustainable harvesting of these resources to Pacific Island economies
  • Innovative solutions to reduce the pollution and CO2 from the maritime shipping industry.

In this bulletin we address 3 specific ocean issues that represent part of how Pacific Islands can rise to the challenges of Climate Change and also illustrate why law and governance is integral to meeting the challenges. The 3 ocean issues are:

  • Legal rights to ocean spaces
  • Mangroves
  • Marine Protected Areas
Read More

The legal framework for effective Marine Protected Areas in Fiji - the Fiji Environmental Law Association's latest publication

Sep 14, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Marine Protected Areas, Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Fiji Oceans, fisheries management, administrative law

The Fiji government has made a bold commitment to designate marine protected areas (MPAs) across 30% of its ocean spaces.

Given the well documented threats to all oceans and their resources it is a natural response to create protected areas that restrict the use of certain areas of ocean. The aims for greater protection may be varied and include to protect areas or species of special scientific interest, to preserve bio-diversity, for fisheries management reasons including for food security or to promote resilience to natural disasters and counter the effects of climate change. However, MPAs are designed to restrict the way a designated area of ocean is used, and because of this the designation of a MPA may alter, restrict, reduce, or remove pre-existing rights and commercial interests to use the marine area subject to the designation. As such the creation of MPAs may raise ethical questions and will definitely raise legal questions particularly in the area of administrative law. Last February we published this bulletin that looked at the designation of MPAs from an administrative law perspective.

In September 2017, the Fiji Environmental Law Association (FELA) together with EDO NSW and the University of the South Pacific (USP) has added to the MPA discussion through a study that considers the existing legal framework in Fiji for the creation of MPAs. This study is entitled “Towards an Effective Legal Framework for Marine Protected Areas In Fiji - a Policy and Law Discussion Paper” (ISBN 975-982-01-0965-0), and available now from the USP bookshop.

Read More

The Fiji Environmental Law Association has published a paper that discusses Fiji's path towards Integrated Oceans Management

Sep 10, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Integrated Oceans Management Policy, Fiji Oceans

Fiji, like other Pacific Island States, is blessed with large areas of ocean space that contain important and wondrous natural resources. To manage its ocean (60 times larger than Fiji's landmass) is more important than ever given the numerous challenges that our oceans face.

In support of good management, due process and planned decision making the Fiji Environmental Law Association (FELA) together with EDO NSW and the University of the South Pacific (USP) has just published a policy and law scoping paper entitled "Towards an Integrated Ocean Management Policy for Fiji" (ISBN 978-982-01-0964-3) and on sale at the USP bookshop.

It is hoped that this scoping paper will assist Fiji draft its National Oceans Policy Framework and also support an exciting pathway for Fiji to create its own Integrated Oceans Management Policy (IOM Policy) that is adapted to Fiji's legal and governance context.

Read More

When can a fishing licence be revoked or refused for non-compliance with fisheries laws in Fiji’s fisheries waters?

Aug 30, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Revocation of Fiji fishing licence

A cornerstone of the regulation of Fiji’s inshore fisheries is that it is a criminal offence to engage in commercial or sports fishing in Fiji’s fisheries waters without a fishing licence.

At present, fishing licences for all areas of Fiji’s fisheries waters are granted and regulated by the Ministry of Fisheries under the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2012 and Offshore Fisheries Management Decree Regulations, 2014. However, for traditional fishing grounds (qoliqoli areas) the Ministry of Fisheries grants commercial fishing licences under the Fisheries Act 1942, and Regulations (as amended). The key difference is that before the Ministry of Fisheries will issue a licence to fish within a qoliqoli area a permit is required from the relevant Divisional Commissioner who before granting such a permit is required by law to consult with the holders of the traditional fishing rights for that qoliqoli area. Commercial fishing licences for Fiji fisheries waters outside qoliqoli areas do not require this additional pre-condition.

In this bulletin, we consider the powers of the Ministry of Fisheries to revoke an inshore fishing licence when the holder of the licence has not complied with Fiji’s fisheries legislation. This requires consideration of both the powers under Fisheries Act, 1942 and the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree, and principles of administrative law that underpin decisions to grant and revoke fishing licences.

Read More

Designating all fisheries officers in Fiji “authorized officers” may assist with inshore fisheries enforcement.

Aug 30, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Fiji fisheries, Commercial fishing, Inshore fisheries

On 25 August 2017, the Ministry of Fisheries hosted an inter-agency National Inshore Fisheries Enforcement Forum and in his opening address Deputy Permanent Secretary Sanaila V. Naqali called for more inter-agency collaboration to assist with inshore fisheries enforcement. The message from the Ministry of Fisheries is that in contrast to Fiji’s oIffshore fisheries, the current status of inshore fisheries is a cause of grave concern. This concern is heightened because inshore fisheries are more important than offshore fisheries in terms of Fiji’s national interest as they provide a vital protein source and food security for so many Fijians as well as a greater contribution to Fiji's economic well being and fish consumption than offshore fisheries.

It seems likely that offshore fisheries have become increasingly well managed and regulated thanks to commitment and hard work by the Ministry of Fisheries, the expertise of its fisheries officers inside the Offshore Fisheries Division, and the valued support from regional fisheries management organisations (amongst others). But is also the case that inshore fisheries are by their nature more challenging to regulate and manage sustainably than offshore fisheries. Inshore fisheries are much easier to access, include within inshore waters traditional fishing rights areas, and involve many more fishers from subsistence fishers up to significant commercial enterprise and everyone in between.

While enforcement is a complex topic: in this bulletin we examine how extending inshore fisheries officers powers pursuant to the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree, 2012 may assist the Ministry of Fisheries better meet the significant challenges that they face in regulating inshore fisheries. The timing may be good to extend inshore fisheries officers powers as the Ministry of Fisheries has made the recent decision to create a new Inshore Fisheries Division within the Ministry of Fisheries dedicated to the good regulation and sustainable management of Fiji's most important natural resources.

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all