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Briefing for Friday, 23 April

CSD-7 on the oceans and seas

Governance of the world�s oceans and seas dominated Thursday�s high level segment at the CSD-7. Ministers and other participants grappled with proposals on how to enhance and supplement UNGA�s role in overseeing oceans and seas issues and helping to both integrate and accelerate global, regional and local implementation of existing agreements. An Irish Minister summed up the emerging consensus with a call for institutional renewal but no new institutions.

During a frank dialogue session a number of proposals emerged, including:

On marine stocks, the Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that 20 million tonnes of fish caught is discarded each year. The World Wide Fund for Nature reported that ninety per cent of subsidies to the fishing industry are administered in direct violation of the World Trade Organisation�s reporting requirements on subsidies. She called for greater transparency and more information on where the billions of dollars in subsidies go.


Informal negotiations on the draft CSD contribution to the Special Session of UNGA on the implementation of the Barbados POA on SIDS reconvened Thursday evening. Representatives of SIDS are seeking CSD support for special dispensation in international trade bodies to help them resist the impact of trade globalization. Ministers are expected to take up the issue during the high level segment Friday.

Photos and RealAudio from 22 April

High-Level Ministerial Segment on oceans and seas

CHINA noted that a lack of financial resources and management expertise constrains developing countries' capacity to implement the Global Programme of Action on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), and said developed countries should bear greater responsibility for marine protection.

AUSTRALIA urged the development and implementation of marine protected areas in domestic waters and on the high seas and supported the FAO's development of a global plan of action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

DENMARK called for increased effectiveness of existing institutions and political will to implement agreements

JAPAN stated that, in certain cases, subsidies help realize socio-economic policy goals, contribute to the reduction of excessive fishing capacity, and should not be singled out as being responsible for excessive fishing capacity.

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister of the UK noted the effects of burning fossil fuel on coral reefs, which provide an early warning of the threats of global warming, pollution and over-exploitation.

NORWAY said no nation should allow its flag to be used as a flag of convenience and called on the CSD to encourage FAO prioritization in this area.

Statements from the High-Level Segment on oceans and seas:


Solomon Islands, on behalf of SOPAC

United Kingdom

Germany, on behalf of the EU

The US said delegates at UNCED debated the need for a global treaty and decided the issue was best addressed at the national and regional levels. He noted that the GPA evolved as an alternative and said the CSD should remedy insufficient GPA implementation.

EGYPT said the CSD should call on governments to create better coordination at the national level.

Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai agreed that the problem is at the national level where different areas of responsibility rarely reside in one place.

The Solomon Islands, on behalf of the SOUTH PACIFIC GROUP called on the CSD to support the International Coral Reef Initiative and implementation of the CBD Jakarta Mandate.

MADAGASCAR was among several countries that highlighted successes from regional and sub-regional cooperation on marine protection and management and called for the revitalization and strengthening UNEP's Regional Seas Programme.

FRANCE described existing global monitoring arrangements by UN bodies as piecemeal and, along with AUSTRALIA, the SOUTH PACIFIC GROUP and others, called for an open-ended working group to meet annually and make recommendations to the GA

Hans Corell, Head of the UN Legal Department, noted that the GA discussions cover a wide variety of issues, highlighted the timing constraints for producing Secretary-General's reports, and suggested that the CSD could recommend that an early report be prepared on a specific issue for consideration prior to the GA and then the GA could receive its broader report as usual.

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Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.