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The Australian National University

The Collateral Damage from China's 'Great Wall of Sand': The Environmental Dimensions of the South China Sea Case

Tim Stephens Vol 34 (2016)
South China Sea Agora

This contribution to the Australian Year Book of International Law Agora on the South China Sea Case assesses the decision’s treatment of fisheries and environmental issues. These matters might appear as second or third order concerns given the sovereignty and security issues also at stake in this region. However, the South China Sea is one of the world’s most ecologically diverse marine bioregions and sustains an array of vulnerable coral reef systems and highly valuable fisheries. Contrary to popular perceptions, access to these fisheries is more central to the disputes between the littoral states of the region than control over oil and gas resources. The Arbitral Tribunal’s Merits Award clearly recognises this, and addresses both living resource and environmental protection issues in considerable length and detail. These aspects of the award could serve as a catalyst for regional cooperation to protect this ecologically unique and economically productive marine environment.

Vol 34 (2016)

Table of contents

Updated:  19 October 2016/Responsible Officer:  Australian Year Book of International Law Director/Page Contact:  AYBIL Web Publisher