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UN DOALOS Seventh Session of the Open-ended
Informal Consultative Process
on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

UN Headquarters, New York | 12-16 June 2006
United Nations
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Seventh UNICPOLOS Session Opens in New York

The seventh meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS-7 or Consultative Process) opened on Monday, 12 June 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Delegates convened in a plenary session in the morning, addressing organizational matters and exchanging views on areas of concern and actions needed. In the afternoon, a Discussion Panel on ecosystem approaches and oceans was held.

Monday, 12 June
Opening Plenary

Co-Chair Lori Ridgeway, Canada, noted the Consultative Process's growing importance on the global agenda, and stressed the importance of thinking of the ecosystem approach as an integrating framework instead of a "paradigm shift."

Co-Chair Cristián Maquiera, Chile, emphasized that UNICPOLOS-7 outcomes must be practical and suitable for national implementation.

Renée Sauvé, Canada, underscored that significant progress can be made towards implementation of the ecosystem approach despite the lack of a consensus definition.

Stuart Beck, Palau, noted that lack of knowledge cannot justify inaction, and called for an interim moratorium on bottom trawling in areas where no competent Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) exist.

Speaking for the EU, Thomas Loidl, Austria, said oceans management should include: measurable ecosystem objectives; impact assessments; monitoring; the application of precaution; and the use of tools such as integrated coastal zone management and marine protected areas.

Felicity Buchanan, New Zealand, suggested that the Consultative Process not attempt to reach agreement on a single definition of the ecosystem approach, preferring to focus on identifying experiences and initiatives that can improve sustainable marine management.

Margaret Hayes, United States, noted the US Ocean Action Plan's goal of achieving a national ecosystem-based approach on making decisions related to water, land and resource management; and promotion of the use of the Large Marine Ecosystems concept.

Carlos Duarte, Brazil, stressed the lack of an internationally agreed definition of the ecosystem approach and its link to the precautionary principle. He noted his country's proposal to establish a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic.

Philip Burgess, Australia, welcomed the three-year renewal of UNICPOLOS' mandate, and emphasized the importance of input from industry, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, and States. He stated that ecosystem approaches should manage human impacts upon ecosystems, rather than attempt to manipulate ecosystems.

Wang Zonglai, China, suggested addressing the improvement of coordination and cooperation among the various departments and industries at all levels, called for detailed research on individual ecosystems, and taking into account political and legal aspects of the ecosystem approach.

Anna Lyubalina, Russian Federation, highlighted the importance of the ecosystem approach to ocean management, noting that UNICPOLOS-7's key issues are closely related to the Global Marine Assessment process. She drew attention to the need for an ecosystem approach to utilize traditional and climatic information when assessing the marine environment.

Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu, stressed the importance of the protection of marine ecosystems and highlighted the need to inter alia: reduce greenhouse gas emissions to eliminate coral bleaching; develop closure areas to allow tuna stocks to recover; and create shipping exclusion zones.

Kjell Kristian Egge, Norway, emphasized that the greatest threats to marine environments occur in areas within national jurisdiction, which can be met by implementing the existing legal framework. He called upon RFMOs to address destructive practices and update their mandates to include biodiversity conservation measures and ecosystem approaches.

Resfel Pino, Cuba, called for capacity building and technology transfer for developing countries, and asked for greater consideration of developing country experiences in implementing ecosystem approaches to marine management.

Mexico highlighted the recent drafting of its oceans and coasts environmental policy and the importance of increased participatory processes to facilitate ecosystem conservation and management. He noted a number of initiatives to increase environment information on marine ecosystems.
Side Event: The Ecosystem Approach: Practical steps for its implementation

At lunchtime, IUCN - The World Conservation Union and the Government of Palau presented a side event on practical steps for implementing the ecosystem approach. Noah Idechong, member of Palau's House of Delegates, spoke on Palau's approach to marine conservation. Kristina Gjerde, High Seas Policy Advisor, IUCN, addressed the ecosystem approach in deep waters and open oceans. Arlo Hemphill, Conservation International, launched a special issue of PARKS Magazine on the subject of High Seas Marine Protected Areas.
Discussion Panel on Ecosystem Approaches and Oceans Implementation

Salvatore Arico, UNESCO, noted the minimal implementation of the ecosystem approach in open ocean and deep sea environments and highlighted the need for stakeholder analysis in this respect. He said the foundation of the ecosystem approach provides management solutions and emphasized that there is no single way to implement ecosystem approach.

Simon Cripps, World Wildlife Fund, stressed the need for immediate catalytic steps to implement ecosystem approaches, despite the lack of perfect knowledge. He said ecosystem based management is not a tool for manipulating ecosystems to a lowest common denominator by eliminating natural predators, stressing instead that it restores ecosystem health and therefore restores target fish populations and predators alike.

Hiroyuki Matsuda, Yokohama National University, stated that maximum sustainable yield (MSY) theory ignores that ecosystems are uncertain, non-equilibrium and complex. He stressed that a simple model with errors is better than complex ecological modelling. Through mathematical models he demonstrated that: MSY does not guarantee species coexistence; target switching is a better fishing policy approach than not switching; and that adaptive species management is sometimes needed.

Steven Murawski, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, spoke on the "Top Ten Myths Concerning Ecosystem Approaches to Ocean Resource Management." In particular, he emphasized that ecosystem approaches have already been extensively defined and implemented in formal and informal ways at national and international levels.

On the implementation of the ecosystem approach, the Convention on Biological Diversity highlighted the development of an Ecosystem Approach Sourcebook.

Matthew Gianni, Natural Resources Defense Council, noted the existence of the principles to implement the ecosystem approach and stressed the need to integrate them to effectively govern all human activities.

Related Coverage

UNICPOLOS-6, UNICPOLOS-5, and UNICPOLOS-4 coverage from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
UNFSA Review Conference coverage from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
3rd Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands Bulletin.
Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands coverage by Sustainable Developments.

Related Links

UN Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS).
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) - Chapter 17.


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