Fifth Meeting of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law
of the Sea

United Nations Headquarters, New York | 7- 11 June 2004


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 Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

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Highlights for Wednesday 9 June 2004

Delegates to the fifth meeting of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process) convened in Discussion Panel and Plenary sessions. The Discussion Panel heard keynote presentations on gas hydrates and practical uses of marine genetic resources, as well as statements on new sustainable uses of the oceans. Plenary continued exchanging views on areas of concern and actions needed.    
Above photo L-R: Co-Chairs Felipe Paolillo (Uruguay), Philip Burgess (Australia) and Anne Rogers (DESA)




Edith Allison (US Depart­ment of Energy) (above) gave a presentation on gas hydrates and stressed that the energy contained in gas hydrates is double that of other fossil energy sources.

John Stegeman (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)(above) presented on potential practical uses of marine genetic resources, including as: pharmaceutical agents; biomolecular materials; and materials for biomedical research.


stressed that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the legal framework to regulate activities in the high seas. Above photo: Walter Stewart (Guyana)

stressed that UNCLOS does not specifically state that seabed biodiversity is part of the common heritage of mankind, only that these resources need to be protected. Above photo: Elie Jarmache (France)



expressed support for any initiative aimed at addressing the adverse effects of high seas bottom trawling. 
Above photo: Juana Elena Ramos (Cuba)

MEXICO suggested calling upon the UN General Assembly to adopt a declaration encouraging scientific research in the Area. Above photo: Juan-Manuel Gomez Robledo (Mexico)



CHILE stressed the need to assert the ‘genuine link’ between a flag State and vessels flying its flag. Above photo: Fernando Zegers (Chile)

The US expressed support for strengthening existing mechanisms regarding flag State implementation. Above photo: Margaret Hayes (US)


Deep sea biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction:

PALAU recommended convening an intergovernmental confer­ence to discuss measures to effectively manage and conserve biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Stuart Beck (Palau)

FIJI welcomed the International Seabed Authority’s (ISA) approach to ensure minimum interference with deep sea biodiversity. Above photo: Sainivalati Navoti (Fiji)

Side Event
Deep Sea Fisheries and the Conservation of High Seas Biodiversity Chaired by Lee Kimball (IUCN)

Above photo L-R: Matthew Gianni, Lee Kimbal and Kristina Gjerde

Dan Ogolla, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), reported on the seventh Conference of the Parties to the CBD, noting progress made at COP-7 regarding marine protected areas (MPAs), deep seabed genetic resources and the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas under national jurisdiction. Ogolla stressed the recognition for cooperation in respect of these areas and the need for immediate and long-term measures to protect seamounts, hydrothermal vents, cold water corals and other vulnerable ecosystems. He highlighted COP-7’s call to the UN General Assembly and other relevant international organizations to take short, medium- and long-term measures to avoid and eliminate destructive practices consistent with international law, including through an interim prohibition of destructive practices or the use of MPAs. 

Laurence Madin
, (left) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, presented the ecological characteristics and vulnerability of deep sea ecosystems, noting that out of the 30,000 to 100,000 seamounts around the world, very few have been sampled so far and that less than half lie within Exclusive Economic Zones. He explained that seamounts are oasis of the oceans, which attract many fish and marine mammal species, of which many are slow growing and long-lived. He said that too little is known yet to develop plans for a sustainable harvest and that uncontrolled exploitation prevents from understanding their functioning.

Matthew Gianni 
(above), Consultant, gave a presentation on deep water fisheries in the high seas and the UN General Assembly’s initiatives to address their impact on deep sea biodiversity. He noted that there are no global statistics on high seas catch, but that 11 countries, mostly OECD countries and Parties to the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. He said deep water fisheries concentrate in the North West and North East Atlantic, the South West Indian Ocean and the Tasmanian Sea, and are mainly illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). Gianni stressed difficulties with implementing the Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries and the CBD, and called for reasserting the global commons character of the high seas.

Kristina Gjerde
, (left) IUCN, presented options for addressing deep sea bottom trawling. She stressed gaps in governance, noting that few regional fisheries organizations have competence and that the UN Fish Stocks Agreement only covers straddling stocks. She said short-term options include a UN General Assembly resolution prohibiting high seas bottom trawling for an interim period, and the establishment of a working group to develop guidance regarding fisheries in the continental margin. Gjerde said medium-term options include the development of supplementary regional agreements and a reform of existing regional organizations. She noted that alternatives include the development and selective application of environmentally safe gear and practices and the establishment of closed areas.


Deep Sea Conservation Coalition: Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace Oceana, and Pew Charitable Trust 

Delegates to the fifth meeting of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process) were invited to a Wine and Cheese reception for Deep Sea Protection . Presentations by Professor Daniel Pauly (University of British Columbia) (left)and Karen Sack (Greenpeace) (below left) were introduced by Karen Beinecke (NRDC) (below right). Professor Pauly noted the rich biodiversity of the sea mounts and stressed its fragile nature, while  Karen Sack called for an immediate moratorium of bottom trawling. 

Above photo L-R: Spanish delegates Carmen Paz Martí, Alejandro Lago, Amor Solá

Above photo L-R: Lori Ridgeway (Canada) and Max Kitchell (Australia)

Related Links |

Earth Negotiation Bulletin's report of UNICPOLOS-4 (HTML, PDF, TXT).
Sustainable Developments’ report of the Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands (HTML, PDF, TXT).
UN Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) .
GMA International Workshop site.
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) - Chapter 17.


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