Canada-United States Cooperative Approaches to Shared Marine Fishery Resources: Territorial Subversion?

This Essay will focus on how Canada and the United States have both succeeded and failed in adopting cooperative approaches to managing ocean fishery resources. A critical factor that has influenced these efforts is the introduction of an international legal construct dictating that States have exclusive sovereign rights respecting all marine living resources within 200 nautical miles of their shores. Cooperative approaches to managing transboundary marine living resources between Canada and the United States are necessary for two reasons. First, in the case of marine living resources, the resource pays scant attention to human-constructed national boundaries. Put another way, marine living resources challenge the entire idea of territory and boundaries. Therefore, for proper management of these transboundary resources that benefits both States, cooperation is necessary. Second, unlike respecting land, on salt water, as a result of each State having 200-nautical-mile zones, Canada and the United States have areas where both States claim exclusive national authority. These are areas where there are disputed maritime boundaries, and they exist between Canada and the United States on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts. Both for proper resource management purposes and for pragmatic “lets-not-fight” purposes, bilateral cooperation is required.