Document Type : Article


Assistant Prof., Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


The collapse of the Soviet Union created a legal vacuum regarding fisheries management of the Caspian Sea. This vacuum  greatly contributed to the steady decline of the Caspian living resources. In particular, the Caspian Sea’s valuable stocks of sturgeon were endangered to the point of extinction. The critical situation of the sturgeon stocks led to the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention) with respect to these stocks. This convention effectively brought trade in Caspian sturgeon under international supervision. Meanwhile, efforts by the Caspian coastal states to establish a new fisheries management regime produced the 2014 Agreement on Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Aquatic Biological Resources of the Caspian Sea. Furthermore, the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, which was signed in 2018 by the five presidents of the Caspian states, adds new elements to the fisheries management regime. The main question of the present paper is: what is the legal regime of fisheries management in Caspian Sea? The findings of this study suggest that while the necessary legal framework for the integrated and institutionalized management of the Caspian Sea’s living resources has been established, the efficacy of the new regime depends on the adoption and implementation of effective conservation and management measures by the Caspian coastal states.


  1. A) Books
  2. Mahmoudzadeh, Kamal & Jafari, Farideh (2017), The Survey of the Sea of Mazandaran, Tehran, Dabizesh (In Persian).
  3. Mirfendereski, Guive (2001), A Diplomatic History of the Caspian Sea, np., Palgrave.
  4. Khodorevskaya, Raisa, Yulia Kim, Reza Shahifar, Elchin Mammadov, Damir Katunin, Boris Morozov, Mehman Akhundov, Orazmuhammet Muradov and Violeta Velikova (2014), State and Dynamics of the Bioresources in the Caspian Sea, Berlin/ Heidelberg, Springer.
  5. Koolaee, Elaheh & Goudarzi, Mehrnaz (2014), Caspian Sea: Challenges and Prospects, Tehran: Mizan Publication (In Persian).
  6. Reeve, Rosalind (2002). Policing International Trade in Endangered Species: The CITES Treaty and Compliance, London: Routledge.
  7. Shaheidar, Morteza (2012), Resolving Differences on the Legal Regime of the Caspian Sea, Tehran: Dadgostar (In Persian).
  8. Sohn, Louis B., Kristen Gustafson Juras, John E. Noyes and Erik Franckx (2010), The Law of the Sea in a Nutshell, Thomson Reuters [translated into Persian by Mohammed Habibi Mojandeh]
  9. Tanaka, Yoshifumi (2019), The International Law of the Sea, Cambridge University Press.


  1. B) Articles
  2. Aladin, N. V., T. Chida, Yu. S. Chuikov, Z. K. Ermakhanov, Y. Kawabata, J. Kubota, P. Micklin, I. S. Plotnikov, A. O. Smurov and V. F. Zaitzev (2018), “The History and Future of the Biological Resources of the Caspian and the Aral Seas”, Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 2061-2084.
  3. Biran, Sedigheh & Ghamkhar, Ali Reza (2007), “The Caspian Sturgeon is threatened with Extinction”, The Journal of Strategy, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 201-215 (In Persian).
  4. Dabiri, Farhad & Azadbakht, Bita (2011), “Review of the Executive Mechanisms of the CITES Convention in the legal System of Iran for the Conservation of the Endangered Species”, Journal of Environmental Sciences and Technology, Vol.12, No. 4, pp. 59-69 (In Persian).
  5. Damirchilou, Mojtaba (2004), “Iranian Perspective on [the] Caspian Sea Legal Regime”, Central Asia and the Caucuses Studies, Vol. 53, pp. 159-186 (In Persian).
  6. Karataeva, Elena (2020), “The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea”, International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, Vol. 35, pp. 232–263.
  7. Khodorevskaya, Raisa (1997), “Present Status of Commercial Stocks of Sturgeons in The Caspian Sea Basin”, Environmental Biology of Fishes, Vol. 48, pp. 209–219.
  8. McDorman, Ted L. (2005), “Implementing Existing Tools: Turing Woods into Actions - Decision-Making Process of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations”, The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, Vol. 20, pp. 423-457.
  9. Molenaar, Erik Jaap (2004), “Regional Fisheries Management Organizations: Issues of Participation Allocation and Unregulated Fishing”, in Oude Elferink, Alex G. and others (eds.), Oceans Management in the 21st Century: Institutional Frameworks and Responses, Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
  10. Momtaz, Jamshid (1995), “Legal Status of the Caspian Sea”, Central Asia and the Caucuses Journal, Vol. 10, pp. 123-130 (In Persian).
  11. Ndiaye, Tafsir Malick (2011), “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing”, Chinese Journal of International Law, Vol. 10, pp. 373-405.
  12. Pourkazemi, Mohammad (2009), “Living resources of the Caspian Sea and Tehran Convention” Central Eurasia Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 1-20 (In Persian).
  13. Rayfuse, Rosemary (2015), “Regional Fisheries Management Organizations” in Donald R Rothwell and others (eds.), Oxford Handbook on the Law of the Sea, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  14. Ruban, G. I. & R. P. Khodorevskaya (2011), “Caspian Sea Sturgeon Fishery: A Historic Overview”, Journal of Applied Ichthyology, Vol. 27, pp. 199–208.
  15. Seyrafi, Sassan (2020), “Baselines in the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea”, Public Law Studies Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 275-310.
  16. Vinogradov, Sergei & Wouters, Patricia (1996), “The Caspian Sea: Quest for a New Legal Regime”, Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 9, Issue1, pp. 87-98.


  1. C) Documents
  2. CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] (1973), United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 993, pp. 243-71.
  3. CITES SC [Standing Committee] (2001), SC45 Summary Record, Annex 2: Recommendations adopted by the Standing Committee regarding Caspian Sea stocks of Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, A. nudiventris, A. stellatus and Huso huso.
  4. CITES SC [Standing Committee] (2002), SC47 Doc. 11, Annex: Evaluation of compliance by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan with actions to be implemented before 20 June 2002 pursuant to the Review of Significant Trade and decisions of the Standing Committee at its 45th meeting.
  5. CITES CoP [Conference of the Parties] (2002), Resolution Conf.12.7(Rev. CoP17) Conservation of and Trade in Sturgeons and Paddlefish, adopted at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Santiago, 2002).
  6. Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea (2018), International Legal Materials, Vol. 58, pp. 403-13.
  7. De Meulenaer, Thomas and Caroline Raymakers (1996). Sturgeons of the Caspian Sea and the International Trade in Caviar, Monographic Series: Species in danger, TRAFFIC International/WWF International.