Do unilateral trade measures really catalyze multilateral environmental agreements?

Original Paper


Unilateralism remains an opaque concept associated with discriminatory or coercive policy implications. Legal controversies about unilateralism have not prevented a continuing proliferation of unilateral trade measures in domestic fishery management regimes to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The widespread application of trade leverage requires a refined study of the confluence of multilateral trade and environmental governance frameworks on novel state activism. This article probes the long-running trajectory of the US Tuna and Shrimp disputes within the cross-institutional context of the World Trade Organization, multilateral environmental agreements and regional fisheries management organizations. It aims to shed new light on the nexus between unilateral trade measures and multilateral environmental agreements as an evolving and mutually adaptive process. Inspired is the critical thinking on elevating trade and environmental partnerships to coherently monitor and discipline trade unilateralism in its indirect role to ameliorate global environmental problems.


Unilateralism Multilateralism Fisheries management MEAs RFMOs WTO 



Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program


Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources


Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna


Catch documentation schemes


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna


Committee on Trade and Environment


Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act


Exclusive economic zone


East Pacific Ocean


European Union


Food and Agricultural Organization


General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade


General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean


Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles


Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission


International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas


International Dolphin Conservation Program Act


Indian Ocean Tuna Commission


International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing


Multilateral environmental agreements


Marine Mammal Protection Act


Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization


North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


North Pacific Fisheries Commission


Agreement on Port State Measures


Regional fisheries management organizations


Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center


South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation


Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement

South-East Asian MOU

Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia


South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation


Turtle excluder devices


United Nations


UN Convention on the Law of the Seas


United States


Unilateral trade measures


Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission


World Trade Organization



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law and Oceans InstituteUniversity of Western Australia (M253)CrawleyAustralia

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