The Chair convened the Plenary on Thursday to offer delegates the opportunity to present general statements on the text of his draft agreement (the "Draft Agreement").
Peru said that the Draft Agreement is the first step towards truly effective conservation and management of the marine living resources. Not included in the Draft Agreement are emergency situations that would allow adopting immediate measures to ensure the conservation of fish stocks, and there is no provision enabling States to prohibit unloading of catches
The EU stated that a binding instrument may have advantages, yet procedures can be time-consuming, especially on controversial matters. The concept of biological unity and compatibility of conservation and management measures remain crucial, in order to avoid setting double standards. The Conference should take count of its achievements, especially, in the context of the FAO Compliance Agreement.
Chile said that the scope of application should refer to straddling and highly migratory fish stocks located on the high seas, particularly in areas adjacent to the EEZ. Conservation and management measures of those that apply to the coastal State within the EEZ should be taken with the consent of that State. The biological unity within the range of the stocks must be recognized. Only a legally-binding convention will achieve effective implementation.
Brazil stated that the present text may not have provisions that were present in the Chair's Revised Negotiating Text. He said that a more substantive role for the coastal State has to be defined in this text. Future negotiations within regional organizations will allow for a political margin.
Indonesia supported Peru, Chile and Brazil on two major points: the Draft Agreement should not detract from the powers of the coastal State in its own EEZ and coastal States have specific interests in the conservation and management of the high seas adjacent to their EEZ.
Argentina said that he appreciated the format of a convention and the fact that the text is shorter, clearer and does not have excessive details. Valuable ideas that appeared in the RNT have disappeared, and he supported suggestions made by Peru and Chile. A clause on provisional application of the agreement, similar to that in the Agreement on the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS, should be added.
Korea stated that conservation and management of the stocks concerned should not be confined to the high seas, but extend to sea areas under national jurisdiction. He did not feel that consensus had been reached on the binding form of the document.
India supported Argentina and other Latin American speakers. The Draft Agreement should preserve the sovereign rights of the coastal States in the EEZ. Secondly, coastal States have a special interest in fisheries in the high seas adjoining their coast. Thirdly, conservation and management measures should be applicable by-and-large to the stocks in question.
The Russian Federation said the draft is a good basis for continuing work. In the future work of the Conference, it is important to focus on efforts ensuring the implementation of enforcement measures. In the application of the precautionary approach, a mechanism for interim measures should be provided for stocks being depleted seriously. Regarding conservation measures, he stated that an ecological approach is beneficial, and that the focus should be on strengthening this approach.
Japan said that the text was more balanced, but added that further revisions are needed. It should be reviewed in terms of structure, content and wording. He supported Korea and said that there is no consensus reached yet on the question of form. Each coastal State and distant water fishing State must study the relationship and consistency of the document with UNCLOS, other treaty obligations and domestic legislative systems.
Mexico said he agreed with Peru, Chile and Argentina and supported Brazil's view that the negotiation should be on technical aspects and not on the political factors. The chapter on the participation of the developing countries ought to be strengthened, and financial mechanisms that do not involve the Voluntary Fund should also be put in place.
Poland said that he did not expect to deal with the text of a binding draft agreement. He added that the mandate of this Conference should apply strictly to straddling and highly migratory fish stocks throughout their range and not in just one area. The notion of biological unity should be clarified, and the right of the coastal States to arrest and detain vessels on the high seas revisited, as would be the right of port States vis- -vis foreign vessels.
Iceland welcomed the form of a full-fledged convention and said that the draft reflected a constructive basis for compromise of views at this and previous sessions. He expressed concern that the rights of the coastal States in their own EEZs were not reflected.
Australia, speaking on behalf of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, said that the text appeared well-balanced and was a sound basis for further negotiations toward a strong and binding outcome. He said, however, that the balance of the RNT had been altered with regard to the compatibility of measures on the high seas and in the EEZs.
Senegal said that the new text touches on the responsibilities of all the States involved, but still needs to be improved so that there are no loopholes. The application of the measures on the high seas should be more strict and the rights of the coastal States in their EEZ should be more protected.
China said that no consensus has emerged on whether the outcome of this Conference should be a legally-binding document. He also expressed concern over the provisions that deal with the issues of enforcement on the high seas, the abuse of rights on the high seas, the principles to be followed when new organizations are set up, and the relationship between this document, UNCLOS and FAO documents.
Ecuador said that in order to be acceptable, the draft should have a better balance between the various interests at stake. He agreed with several Latin American States and the Russian Federation on the issues of the norms of application, dispute settlement and port State jurisdiction.
Norway expressed the same concern over the balance of interests, which tilts too much in favor of distant water fishing States. The question of enclosed and semi-enclosed areas and the criteria for new entrants to regional organizations also need to be looked into.
Uruguay said that the draft legally-binding document is the main success of this session, as its objective is the conservation and sustainable use of stocks, pursuant to the implementation of UNCLOS. He said that Article 3 on application should not affect the rights of coastal States in their EEZs and added that the adoption of provisional measures by the coastal States should be permitted.
Canada said that the laissez-faire practices of the past do not work and we need a binding convention that has teeth. He also noted that the word "compromise" was hardly ever heard and that the issue of the rights of coastal States in the EEZ has been solved and should not be reopened.
The Philippines said that like "ambrosia from Olympus," the fish are no longer there, as the species have been harvested to the point of exhaustion. The Heads of State in Rio recognized that States are bound morally and politically to cooperate.
Kenya said he appreciated the balance of the text and that he remained convinced that the goals of conservation and management would be attained. He also suggested that an annex be added to define and list straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.
Morocco associated himself with those who expressed the wish to see more explicit rights for the coastal States, as reflected in UNCLOS.
Mauritania said that as a coastal State that depends on fishing, his country hopes that the delegates will be able to take practical and binding measures, but that this effort is complementary to UNCLOS and should not undermine it. He said that particular emphasis should be placed on the needs of developing countries so that they are able to fish on the high seas as well.
Speaking on behalf of the Canadian Oceans Caucus, the representative of the United Nations Association of Canada asked that reference to marine conservation areas be highlighted in the text. These areas have been set up in the EEZs of New Zealand, the Netherlands and the UK. They protect ecosystems and promote biological diversity.
The Chair said that he felt this was a useful exchange of views and that it would serve as a good basis for negotiation in the next session.
[Return to start of article]