Arctic Review on Law and Politics, Vol 5, No 1, 2014, pp. 75-99.
The Barents Sea contains some of the most valuable fish resources in the world, including the world’s largest cod stock. Since the mid-1970s, Norway and the Soviet Union/Russia have managed the most important stocks in the area together, through the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission. During the 1990s, the precautionary approach was adopted as the leading device for global fisheries management, introducing a requirement for additional precaution when scientific evidence is uncertain, as well as a number of practical regulatory measures related to scientific research, regulation and enforcement. Since the late 1990s, the Joint Commission has gradually adopted a number of measures required by the precautionary approach. Russia has never formally introduced the principle in its own fisheries legislation, but by and large employed regulatory measures in line with it. The article presents the major precautionary regulatory measures adopted by the Commission, including precautionary reference points for spawning stocks and fish mortality, a harvest control rule for quota settlement and various enforcement initiatives. A particular focus is on Norwegian-Russian collaboration and how Norway has bargained with Russia for precautionary management measures.