Essex Public International Law Lecture: International law and the problems with high seas fishing - the future ahead

  • Thu 3 Jun 21

    12:00 - 13:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker

    Osvaldo Urrutia Lecturer, Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Public International Law Lecture

  • Event organiser

    Essex Law School

Please join us for the latest instalment of the Essex Public International Law Lecture Series.

The Essex Public International Law Lecture Series welcomes you to the latest instalment presented by Osvaldo Urrutia, Lecturer, Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and senior legal adviser on fisheries and ocean affairs, Government of Chile and chaired by Dr Meagan Wong from the School of Law at the University of Essex.


IThe challenges of high seas fishing seem endless. Fishing is an economic activity that causes severe impacts on marine biodiversity and ecosystems. This is no exception on the high seas: overfishing, bycatch, discards, harmful fishing practices that affect ecosystems, IUU fishing, and marine pollution from lost fishing gear are environmental impacts occurring every day “out of sight” in our seas. The legal, political, and operational difficulties of managing the high seas exacerbate these problems. The climate change crisis, triggering significant changes in ocean dynamics, will only worsen the uncertainties.

International law has been a critical factor in the dynamics of global fisheries, and the high seas are no exception. But is international law responding to the high seas? Why is the system not delivering? Do we need radical ideas for the future ahead, or can we improve the system with the current forces at work? This talk will discuss some legal challenges facing the high seas from two connected perspectives: regulatory and institutional. Is this a problem of lack of treaties, stagnant state practice or simply poor compliance? Critical for the future of high seas ecosystems are little, decentralised organisations called RFMOs, with significant responsibilities but overwhelmed by all sort of problems. Do they need reform or support? The talk will close by discussing the role that a future BBNJ Agreement may have in regulating high seas fishing.


Osvaldo Urrutia (LL.M UCL) has been a senior legal adviser on fisheries and ocean affairs of the Government of Chile for over a decade. In this capacity he has been involved in treaty settings related to marine living resources including the General Assembly of the United Nations, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO). He was the chairperson of the SPRFMO Commission for four years, and represented the organisation in the proceedings conducted by a Review Panel established under Article 17 and Annex II of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of the High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean. He is also a lecturer on international law and law of the sea at Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso (Chile). He is currently a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington.

About the Essex Public International Law Lecture Series

The Essex Public International Law lecture series is founded, hosted and co-chaired by Dr Meagan Wong and Dr Emily Jones based in the School of Law. This is a weekly lecture series featuring judges of international courts and tribunals, leading academics, and practitioners of international law from governmental service, international organizations, and private practice from across the globe. The series prides itself on building on two important intellectual traditions of international law: formalism and international legal practice, and international legal theory including postcolonial and feminist perspectives. 

We welcome all students, academics, practitioners and legal advisors to join us.

How to register

You can register here for the event which will be held on zoom.

For further information

Please contact Dr Meagan Wong, meagan.wong@essex.ac.uk and Dr Emily Jones, e.jones@essex.ac.uk.