Latham aids Barbados in flying fish hostilities

Latham & Watkins has helped Barbados safeguard the future of its national delicacy, flying fish, with a landmark arbitration deciding fishing boundaries between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

Public law head Robert Volterra acted for the Barbadian government, working with the Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley QC, in proceedings initiated in 2004.

Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago both claimed the right to fish in the waters between the two territories. In particular, Barbados said that its fishermen had always exercised traditional fishing rights off Tobago – a claim rejected by Trinidad and Tobago, which arrested two Barbadian fishermen for illegal fishing in 2004.

On 11 April a five-strong tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration handed down its decision. The tribunal was led by Judge Stephen Schwebel and included Blackstone Chambers’ Ian Brownlie QC, Essex Court Chambers’ Vaughan Lowe, and 20 Essex Street’s Francisco Orrego Vicuña and Sir Arthur Watts QC.

The tribunal determined a boundary line between the two jurisdictions, established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It also stated that Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados must negotiate an agreement allowing Barbadian fishermen access to Trinidadian waters, and ensure the conservation of flying fish stocks.

Charles Russell senior partner Laurie Watt acted for Trinidad and Tobago, with the Trinidadian Attorney-General John Jeremie as counsel.