Daily report for 12 July 1993

1st Session of the FSA

Satya N. Nandan, the Chair of the UN Conference on Straddling FishStocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, opened the second sessionof the Conference at 11:00 am. He commented that the participantsat the first session of the Conference, held in April, had agreedon the organization of work of the Conference (A/CONF.164/3) and,thus, this session could address the substantive issues, beginningwith three days of general statements. He added that he hasprepared a list of substantive subjects and issues before theConference (A/CONF.164/10) and that numerous countries and the FAOhave submitted papers as well.

In his opening statement, Nandan stated that this Conference meetsat a time when there is a continued pressure on marine fishresources and a downward trend in fish catches. While under the1982 Law of the Sea Convention the management of resources in thecoastal zone is the responsibility of the coastal State, managementon the high seas is a shared responsibility. He commented thatthere is a need for: the establishment of better fisheriesmanagement practices; a strong political commitment on the part ofcoastal and distant-water fishing States; accurate and timely data;research on monitoring and control of stocks; and enforcement ofmanagement measures. Flag States must honor their obligations underinternational law. Equally important is the need to addressproblems of non- contracting parties, the issue of new entrantsinto high-seas fishing, especially developing countries, and theneed for effective dispute settlement. The issue before thisConference is not only the development of management measures, butalso putting mechanisms into play that will restore depletedstocks. Management regimes should be harmonized without prejudiceto State sovereignty. This Conference is timely due to: 1) thedepleted state of many fish stocks is not only harmful to themarine ecosystem but also threatens the food supply; 2) thedepleted state of fisheries affects the economic well-being offishers and the fishing industry; and 3) the despair among Statesthat believe the effort to secure high seas management is goingnowhere.

AUSTRALIA: Richard Rowe stated that it is time for agreementon ways to effectively discharge the duty of States to cooperate inrelation to high seas fisheries and the duty of flag States tocontrol activities of their vessels on the high seas. A cornerstonefor such action is the adoption of a precautionary approach in themanagement of high seas fisheries. There is also a need foraccurate information from commercial fishing operations. Thereshould be a basic obligation for all flag States to collect andshare accurate and timely catch and effort data from their highseas fishing fleets. States should develop and promote the use ofmore selective gears and techniques used in high seas fisheries toensure that catches are taken on an environmentally sustainablebasis. He commented that the agreement relating to flagging offishing vessels being developed under FAO auspices has thepotential to address a vital area of action needed in high seasfisheries -- raising global standards of flag State control. Beforemoving to prescribe new mechanisms or principles upon which toconserve and manage high seas fisheries, the Conference should beprepared to look carefully and honestly at the reasons underlyingthe failure in existing institutions and at the areas in which theyhave been successful. The difficult questions to be addressed bythis Conference include: (1) the duties and responsibilities offishing States that are not members of a regional fisheriesmanagement regime; and (2) the way in which the conservation andmanagement regimes for fisheries on the high seas and those insideEEZs should relate to one another.

EUROPEAN COMMUNITY: Mr. Almeida Serra, Director-General forFisheries at the Commission of the European Communities, speakingon behalf of the European Community, stated that the EC supportsresponsible fishing as defined at the Conference on ResponsibleFishing held in Cancn, Mexico, in May, 1992, and the need forprotecting the environment to ensure sustainable development asarticulated at UNCED. The EC has already put into place an internaland external fisheries policy whose goals are the balanced andresponsible exploitation of marine resources on a sustainablebasis. To depart from the myth of unlimited freedom to fish, fiveprinciples need to be observed: conservation of marine resourcesshould be based on scientific advice; protection of fisheries musttake account of all factors influencing the state of the resource;in the absence of adequate scientific data, the precautionaryapproach can be an interim option; more selective fishing gearshould be used; and, management and conservation measures must berealistic. The Conference should produce a collection of practicaland technically feasible recommendations to serve as guidelines forcooperation among concerned States within regional and subregionalorganizations, The ultimate aim is conservation and managementpolicies for the stocks that ensure rational, responsible andsustainable fishing.

PERU: Amb. Fernando Guillen stated that there needs to be aclear understanding of the legal framework of the Law of the Sea;however, its succinct provisions are not adequate to solve theproblems related to high seas fisheries. Specific, comprehensiveand binding rules are necessary. He emphasized that the freedom offishing of the high seas is subject to the rights, duties andinterests of coastal States. If the activities of distant fishingStates conflict with coastal States, the rights of the latter mustprevail. He pointed out three complementary criteria: (a) theconsistency principle, where the measures adopted for theconservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fishstocks should be consistent with measures applicable within theEEZ; (b) the "no adverse effect" principle, where fishingactivities in areas of the high sea adjacent to the EEZ should nothave an adverse impact on the stocks in the EEZ; and (c) theprecautionary principle, where in the absence of scientificcertainty, precautionary measures should be adopted. He hoped forthe adoption of an agreement that will solve this problem and putthe necessary mechanisms in place. The purpose of this agreementshould be to adopt jointly-elaborated rules on conservationmeasures, management of straddling and highly migratory fishstocks, supervision, monitoring and dispute settlement mechanisms.

CHILE: Andr‚s Couve, Under-Secretary for Fisheries, agreedthat the Law of the Sea is an appropriate framework for negotiationon fisheries beyond national jurisdiction, but the Convention doesnot contain mechanisms for enforcement. Straddling and highlymigratory fish stocks need an effective legal regime. The Japanesestatement poses a difficult question: how can effectiveimplementation be ensured through non-binding guidelines? He agreedwith the Canadian statement that success depends on the bindingnature of an international convention. The Conference will have toaddress the questions of supervision, the role of regionalorganizations, and cooperation mechanisms. The agreed text shouldreflect consensus on an international regime. New rules must be setup along the following governing principles: within the frameworkof the Law of the Sea Convention; in accordance with sustainabledevelopment, as highlighted in Agenda 21; with effective control byflag States over their vessels on the high seas; no negative impacton stocks sizes; conservation measures must take into accounteffects on related species; conservation measures must be based onthe best scientific data available; preventive measures should betaken when species are at risk, even if the best scientificinformation is not available (precautionary approach); reflaggingto avoid some of the provisions of the Law of the Sea should beprevented; regional organizations should be strengthened andinclude participation by all States; States should agree to disputesettlement provisions; and a regime for developing States.

CHINA: Jia Jiansan, Deputy Director of the Department ofAquatic Products, Ministry of Agriculture, said that thepreservation, management and utilization of living marine resourcesshould be carried out on the basis of equality between countriesand mutual consultation. The Conference should guarantee therational development and sustainable use of fish resources so thatmarine resources can continue to benefit humanity. Management offish stocks on the high seas and in EEZs should be consistent withone another. As the two stocks are renewable resources, formulationof precautionary management measures should be based on sufficient,reliable scientific evaluations of marine living resources.Management measures include monitoring, supervision and theestablishment of internationally recognized standards. Thenegotiations should result in recommendations to be submitted tothe General Assembly.

CANADA: Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Ross Reididentified the failures of the Law of the Sea Convention,highlighted by the FAO report on the situation of high seas stocks.The mandate of this Conference is to identify the existingproblems, consider means of improving fisheries cooperation andrecommend proper courses of action to achieve sustainabledevelopment on the high seas, in accordance with the Law of theSea. The high seas are a global commons, a new frontier ofmultilateralism. There is a need for environmental ethics and anincrease in solidarity between States to avoid destruction of theresources through overfishing. The problem should be approached byconsidering fish as common property. Reid highlighted theconsequences that overfishing on the high seas can have on coastalcommunities. Canada, he added, has committed mistakes in itsmanagement efforts but has always tried to set TACs at safe levelsand to control its fleets. Major fisheries have been closed andwill not be reopened until it is safe to do so. In thesecircumstances, overfishing outside the EEZ is intolerable. BecauseCanadian fishers are making sacrifices to rebuild depleted stocks,Canada calls for an effective international regime for conservationand management on the high seas. This regime should comprisereliable resource assessments, surveillance and control measures,and dispute settlement mechanisms that are compulsory and binding.To be effective, this new international regime will have to bebinding. Whereas States may tailor their own arrangements, aconvention must provide a safety net in case of disagreement. Reidrecognized that developing countries have more limitedinfrastructure and that their ability to fulfill their obligationsconcerning high seas fisheries is dependent on their capabilities.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The Deputy Prime-Minister of the RussianFederation, A. Zaveryukha, said that this Conference should look atthe obligations of different States regarding the conservation andoptimal use of stocks in open ocean areas, how cooperation can bestrengthened, and what international recommendations can be putforth. He said that rational long-term cooperation should beinitiated, taking into account the rights of and laws in coastalStates and the Law of the Sea. Participants at this Conference mustbe ready to adopt decisions on a mandatory basis. Delegates shouldconcentrate on: ways to strengthen the role of coastal States; howStates can carry out activities, bearing in mind the conservationof fish stocks; and how to establish deadlines or time-frames.

NGOS: Matthew Gianni of Greenpeace and Sebastian Matthew,Executive Secretary of the International Collective in Support ofFish Workers (ICSFW), made a joint statement as NGOrepresentatives. A number of NGOs recently negotiated a commonfisheries statement for the Conference and so far 55 NGOs from 27countries have endorsed it. The growing crisis in world fisherieshas major implications for the livelihoods of fishworkers and theirdependents, the health of the marine environment, and global foodsecurity. The FAO has classified virtually all commercially fishedstocks as depleted, fully exploited or overexploited. Fisheriesdevelopment programmes are largely directed toward short-termconsiderations. The NGO statement emphasizes the need for fisheriesconservation, environmental protection, and respect for andrecognition of the rights of small-scale, traditional, andindigenous fishworkers and fishing communities. It argues that aconsistent management regime must apply throughout the range ofboth straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. An institutionalmechanism to ensure global fisheries conservation could be a globalfisheries conservation fund.


Conference Chair Satya Nadan of Fiji held his first Bureau meetingyesterday. It is not expected that the Bureau will meet daily.Members include: Amb. Mohamad Mahmoud (Mauritania); Andr‚s Couve(Chile); and Tullio Treves (Italy). Unresolved issues related toregional fishing rights in Eastern Europe, particularly betweenPoland and the Russian Federation, have delayed selection of theremaining Vice-Chair position in the Bureau. It is expected thatthe regional group will meet to take up this matter before the endof the week.


PLENARY: General debate will continue today. The tentativelist of speakers includes: Doug Kidd, Minister of Fisheries (NewZealand); David Colson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (US);Dag Mjaaland, Assistant Director General, Ministry of ForeignAffairs (Norway); Dae Won Suh (Republic of Korea); and Mr.Horiguchi (Japan). NGOs who will speak are Al Chaddock of theOceans Institute of Canada and Chris Chavasse from the AlaskaMarine Conservation Council. Possible afternoon speakers include:Guido Di Tella, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Argentina); RexStephen Horoi, South Pacific Fisheries (Solomon Islands); arepresentative of Fiji; Dr. Zbigniew S. Karnicki, Director, SeaFisheries Institute (Poland); Humberto Rivero Rosario (Cuba);Bernadette Dwyer of the Fugo Island Fish Cooperative; and AndranniLatchman of WWF.

NGOS: The NGO strategy session will begin at 9:00 am inConference Room C. One-half hour after the conclusion of Plenarythis afternoon, there will be an NGO-Government Dialogue with JohnCrosby of the Canadian delegation.