Has the Status of “Maximum Sustainable Yield” Become an International Customary Rule?


The concept of maximum sustainable yield has emerged as a popularly accepted concept for the benefit of the environment, yet the practical implementation of this concept and the dubious acceptance by fisherman of its lawfulness provides the CORE discussion of this article. Customary law exists as a two pillared system depending both on an element of practice in addition to the belief that the behavior in question is lawfully mandated. As such, for customary status to apply to maximum sustainable yield, this requires both pillars. This article therefore evaluates the application of the customary status to maximum sustainable yield and in doing so, demonstrates that maximum sustainable yield is itself an implementation of the greater notion of sustainable development as a whole.

Share and Cite:

Alberstadt, R. (2014). Has the Status of “Maximum Sustainable Yield” Become an International Customary Rule?. Beijing Law Review, 5, 264-271. doi: 10.4236/blr.2014.54025.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Aust, A. (2005). Handbook of International Law. Cambridge: CUP.
[2] Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) (1995). Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
[3] Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)/Fisheries and Aquaculture Department(s) (2001). What Is the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries?
[4] Harrison, J. (2011). Making the Law of the Sea: A Study in the Development of International Law. Cambridge: CUP.
[5] Higgins, R. (1994). Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[6] International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, 2 December 1946.
[7] International Court of Justice (1950). “Colombian-Peruvian Asylum case”, Judgment of November 20th 1950: I.C. J. Reports, ‘General List” No.7, p. 266 (cited as Asylum Case).
[8] International Court of Justice (1969). North Sea Continental Shelf (Federal Republic of Germany/Denmark; Federal Republic of Germany/The Netherlands). Judgment, 20 February 1969, I.C.J. Reports No. 327, “General List” No(s). 51, 52, p. 3. (Cited as North Sea Continental Shelf).
[9] International Court of Justice (1973). Fisheries Jurisdiction (United Kingdom v. Iceland), Merits. Judgment, 25 July 1974, I.C.J. Reports 1973, Report No. 395 “General List” No. 55, p. 3. (Cited as Fisheries Jurisdiction 1973).
[10] International Court of Justice (1974). “Fisheries Jurisdiction Case” (Federal Republic of Germany v Iceland), Merits, Judgment, 25 July 1974, I.C.J “General List” No. 56, I.C.J Report 396, p 175. (cited as Fisheries Jurisdiction, 1974)
[11] International Court of Justice (1988). “Border and Transborder Armed Actions” (Nicaragua v. Honduras), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports, p. 69 (cited as Nicaragua v Honduras).
[12] International Court of Justice (2014). Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia V. Japan: New Zealand Intervening). 31 March 2014, I.C.J. “General List” No. 148, p. 1. (Cited as Whaling Case).
[13] Marine Stewardship Council (2010). MSC Environmental Standard for Sustainable Fishing. 1 May 2010.
[14] Marine Stewardship Council (2010). MSC Fishery Standard: Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing. 1 May 2010.
[15] Pitcher, T., Kalikoski, D., Pramod, G., & Short, K. (2009). Not Honouring the Code. Nature, 457, 658-659.
[16] Schrijver, N. (2008). The Evolution of Sustainable Development in International Law: Inception, Meaning, and Status. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
[17] Schrijver, N. (2010). Development without Destruction: The UN and Global Resource Management. Bloomington: IUP.
[18] United Nations (1958). Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas. United Nations, (559) Treaty Series, (2005), 285.
[19] United Nations (2014). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. World Commission on Environment and Development.
http://www.un-documents.net/wced-ocf.htm (cited as World Commission)
[20] United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) 10 December 1982. (Cited as: UNCLOS)
[21] United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (1995). Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. A/CONF.164/37, 8 September 1995.
[22] United Nations, UNCLOS (2014a). Chronological Lists of Ratifications of, Accessions and Successions to the Convention and the Related Agreements as at 29 October 2014.
[23] United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (2014b). Annex I. Highly Migratory Species.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.