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An EC paper on suggested guidelines for States in the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and on international cooperation for such regimes circulated in the corridors yesterday. The first part of the paper addresses conservation and management. It recommends that States should commit to: responsible fishing in order not to jeopardize the integrity of the marine ecosystems, and rational and sustainable utilization of these resources. Conservation measures should be designed to maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield.

Conservation measures should not discriminate against the fishers of any State. Conservation measures should be: concerned with the whole stock as a biological unit in its entire area of distribution; designed so as to take due regard to the rights of other States; consistent within the areas of national jurisdiction and those applicable beyond; and based on the best scientific advice available, taking into account the levels of acceptable uncertainty. The effects of natural and human-induced environmental changes should also be taken into account. Research should be impartial and transparent, with a multi-species approach, and data collection should be harmonized with a view to improving the collection and the timely dissemination of accurate and complete statistical data relating to catches including bycatches. Precautionary management does not automatically require moratoria or any other unnecessarily restrictive measure.

Part II outlines guidelines for international cooperation. All States should cooperate with each other in conservation and management of the stocks. International fisheries organizations shall be open, on a non-discriminatory basis, to all States interested in exploitation of the stocks. Only States that cooperate in the decision-making of regional or subregional fisheries organizations should have access to regulated fish stocks in specified areas. States that are not party to an existing organization should be invited to join, and States that do not join an organiztion are not discharged from the obligation to cooperate in the conservation and management of the stocks. States should try to achieve consistency between conservation and management measures applicable within the areas of national jurisdiction and those applicable beyond those areas. Adequate assistance, including scientific and technological cooperation, should be provided to developing countries to enable them to fulfill their obligations relating to the conservation and management of the fish stocks concerned.

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