Black gold establishing regulatory regime for sturgeon fisheries conservation and management in the Caspian Sea
thesisposted on 02.03.2017, 04:21 by Karataeva , Elena
This thesis addresses the collapse of the sturgeon fisheries in the Caspian Sea through the prism of the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF), which recognises that the health of fisheries is dependent on the overall health of the ecosystems sustaining the species. It is argued that the conventional approach to fisheries management, which involves the regulation of catches, fishing gear, areas and seasons, is currently incapable of preventing the continued loss of sturgeon species in the Caspian Sea due to the loss of the spawning grounds, pollution and habitat degradation by various human developments. Recovery of the sturgeon fisheries is only possible with the recovery and protection of the Caspian ecosystem as a whole. Therefore, this study proposes a broad regulatory framework for the conservation and management of sturgeon species based on the EAF tools, carefully selected to suit the circumstances of the Caspian region and the characteristic feature of the sturgeon fisheries. The undertaken study involves a two-stage process. The first stage is context setting: introducing the Caspian Sea region and its economic and geo-political circumstances, such as the unresolved legal status of the Caspian Sea and its implications for sturgeon fisheries, as well as the growing impacts of the offshore oil and gas industry. The sturgeon fishery, its history, cultural, environmental and economic significance is also outlined, together with a critical analysis of the current regulatory framework at the national, regional and international levels. The thesis argues that the regional level is the most suitable one to maximise the conservation and management of the sturgeon fisheries in line with EAF principles. The regulatory regime proposed in this thesis, is, therefore, primarily based on the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (2003), in conjunction with the recently signed Agreement on Conservation and Rational Use of the Caspian Bioresources (ACRUCB) (2014). The second stage of the study involves building a new region-wide sturgeon fisheries regime based on selected EAF tools, focusing on examples and lessons from other marine areas of the world, such as the North and the Mediterranean seas. These tools are mostly directed towards the wider aim of the protection of the Caspian Sea ecosystem from human developments and include: transboundary environmental impact assessment, regulation of the offshore oil and gas industry pollution and the creation of marine protected areas to safeguard sturgeon habitat and species. The study also discusses the formation of the Caspian regional fisheries management organisation to provide a platform for the cooperation of the Caspian states in the area of sturgeon fisheries conservation and management. It is submitted that the application of these tools can assist in providing faster recovery of the sturgeon fisheries in the Caspian Sea region and will ensure that the Caspian Sea ecosystem is protected from further destruction.