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Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

12. Conservation of Marine Living Resources  

This chapter argues that the conservation of marine living resources presents complex problems of regulation and management. The oceans represent the least understood ecosystem on this earth and this makes the conservation of marine life and resources, and the regulation of such, very difficult and complicated. The chapter gives an overview of the law as it stands. International law on conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources has developed very slowly thus far. Effective regimes for conservation of marine living resources have to address not only sustainable use of targeted stocks, but also incidental catch of other species, conservation of biological diversity, and protection of the marine ecosystems which provide the main habitat for fish stocks and other species. The chapter concludes that developing a legal regime that provides for sustainable use and conservation of the ocean’s living resources and biological diversity within the framework of the general law of the sea will continue to remain problematic.


Cover International Law

19. The protection of the environment  

This chapter studies the development of international environmental law. A significant proportion of international environmental law obligations is contained in treaties, which often provide for institutional mechanisms or procedural obligations for their implementation. There exists a dense network of treaty obligations relating to environmental protection, and to specific sectors such as climate change, the conservation of endangered species, or the handling of toxic materials. Indeed, though customary international law knows of no general legal obligation to protect and preserve the environment, certain customary rules nevertheless have been found in specific treaties, case law, and occasionally even soft law instruments. The most significant such rule is the principles of prevention, often taking the form of the ‘good neighbour’ principle. States are required to exercise due diligence in preventing their territory from being used in such a way so as to cause significant damage to the environment of another state.