Daily report for 19 July 1993

1st Session of the FSA

The Plenary continued consideration of A/CONF.164/10, "A guide tothe issues before the Conference." The delegates concluded theirdiscussion of Items II and III, mechanisms for cooperation andresponsibilities of regional fisheries organizations, beforeconsidering Items IV and V, compliance with and enforcement ofconservation and management measures, VI, non-parties to a regionalagreement, and VII, settlement of disputes.


Solomon Islands, on behalf of the South Pacific Forum FisheriesAgency, said that although the FFA supports efforts to cooperate inthe management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, manyof these bodies have not been successful due to: inadequateinformation for decision making; competition; disagreement amongmembers; domination of developed over developing countries; poorenforcement measures; failure to adapt the institutional frameworksto the geographic circumstances in each region; and lack ofcommitment to precise management approaches.

Iceland made the following points: there should be generalobligations for regional and subregional cooperation, tailored tothe individual region; and where there are no existing measures,coastal States and distant water fishing States should cooperate inorganizations and arrangements. There should also be certainrequirements for new entrants; technical assistance to developingcountries to help them fulfill obligations; and a comprehensivesystem for dispute settlement. Morocco said that accession toregional and subregional organizations should be obligatory for anyState involved in the exploitation of the resources. The financingof each commission and its work should be based on contributions bymember countries on the basis of value of catch, adjusted to othercriteria such as GNP. Papua New Guinea raised the point of newentrants into regional conservation and management organizations.


Australia said that improved flag State enforcement should not beneglected. Other issues that must be addressed include: adoption ofnational measures to ensure compliance; fishing licenses orpermits; identification and marking of vessels; global and regionalagreements on catch; and funding of scientific research. Polandsaid that licenses or permits to control fishing (IV(b)) should beissued by flag States, not regional organizations. Norway said thatthere was a certain degree of overlap between Items IV and V.Enforcement action by port States is very important and Norway hastaken legislative action to implement the relevant rules of the1982 Convention. He suggested that IV(f) be amended to include"other mechanisms of cooperation" in addition to investigatingrecords of a vessel within a port. Gabon said with regard tolicenses (IV(b)), that the fees collected within a region should goto the regional organization rather than to coastal States. Japanexpressed reservations with IV(f). There are precedents for portState authority over ships that come under its jurisdiction withregard to activities that take place on the high seas, but itrelates to cases of pollution discharges and UNCLOS does notprovide for this kind of jurisdiction for fisheries.

On IV(e), Japan said the sharing of data should not be limited tothe high seas but also occur within the EEZs. Regionalorganizations should coordinate methods of scientific research anddata collection. Papua New Guinea agreed with Australian remarksthat the issue of transshipment at sea should be dealt with. Chilesaid that in matters of enforcement, there needs to be a sense ofproportion between crime and penalty, and yet, the legal andeconomic advantages for the State or nationals of the State fishingillegally within the regulated zone need to be addressed. Indonesiasaid there is a problem in identifying mechanisms to ensurecompliance. Vessels known to have violated conservation measurescould be blacklisted. More action should also be taken todiscourage transshipment, particularly when it takes place veryclose to a coastal State.

The Philippines said that flag States should be very specific intheir licensing as to the stock involved, the gear, the season, andthe amount of catch allowed. Quotas can be shared, on an equitablebasis, based on capacity, on historical rights, or on a biddingsystem. The EC suggested that IV(a),(b),(c), and (d) be groupedunder three headings: regulation of access to an area throughauthorization, licenses and permits; the regulation of fishingactivity, catch limits or effort limitations or a combinationthereof; and the regulation of vessels. A good way to ensurecompliance might be a "hail system", where a vessel announces itsarrival in the fishing area.

Denmark said that Items II and III without IV and V are like Hamletwithout the Prince of Denmark. He mentioned the particular problemwith regard to flags of convenience; the importance of a hailsystem; and the problem of subsidization, sometimes combined withopen registries. He also mentioned the possibility of sanctioninga ship that fishes legally, but whose sister ship is in an illegalsituation.

Argentina said all States should include in their legislation aregister of the vessels fishing on the high seas from theircountries. Samoa said the Conference should seek the agreement thatflag States accept the obligation of maintaining the regulation oftheir vessels on the high seas. Ukraine said that quotas andlicensing on a national basis and inspections need to be activelysupported. With regard to scientific activities, he suggested theestablishment of a research fishing fleet.

Sweden supported the EC's recommendation to structure therecommendations in Items IV and V under three headings. Hesuggested that this Conference recommend to the General Assemblythat it invite FAO to convene a committee on fisheries for anextraordinary session in the spring of 1994 to mobilize regionaland subregional organizations to address compliance andenforcement. Morocco said that the provisions in both Items IV andV only have value if they are applied effectively. It is importantto define responsibilities and obligations of fishing States.

The Secretary-General of the Permanent South Pacific Commissionsaid that regional organizations such as his should take measuresnecessary to conserve stocks in areas adjacent to EEZs. The rightsand interests of coastal States must be protected. Quotas should beestablished based on periodic assessment of the fish stocks. Chilementioned that paragraph 21 of L.11 discusses the process ofinternational evaluation and suggests that regional organizationssubmit annual reports to COFI (FAO), which will make an inventoryof outstanding issues and formulate recommendations, asappropriate. The Russian Federation said that it was important thatinformation on straddling fish stocks being collected by coastalStates be available to all other States. He also stressed the needfor a specific provision on maintaining stocks within enclosedseas.


Australia said that applicable penalties should act as a deterrent.There should be observer programmes and landing control, inspectionschemes, and satellite transmittal equipment. The US said that flagStates and entities should agree on effective monitoring, controland surveillance and should apply adequate penalties to deterviolations. High seas fishing vessels should be monitored bysatellite to collect real time data. Poland stressed the need forflag States to address the issue of compliance and enforcement ona national level.

Norway said there is a need for the establishment of cooperationmechanisms as part of regional fishing arrangements or agreementsto complement the responsibility of flag States. There may be someinstances where, due to deficiencies, such mechanisms cannot beproperly operated. We then need to incorporate rules to allow forcoastal States' enforcement in such instances. Japan supportedPoland's position regarding the responsibility of flag States toauthorize their vessels on the high seas. On V(a)(ii), Japansupported mechanisms such as boarding and inspection, but hadstrong reservations with issues of arrest and detention.

Chile agreed with Australia on management measures, with the US onimportance of regional organizations, and with Poland on the needfor national legislative measures. The EC disagreed with Norway onhow to ensure effective enforcement through coastal Statejurisdiction. The basic principle is and should be that of flagState responsibility, whether or not the State is a contractingparty. Non-parties are not exempt and should abstain from anyactivities likely to undermine the activity of the regionalorganization. In V(x), minimum standards should be applicable toall States. Argentina said all measures are to be based on theconsent of the flag States and their consent is necessary forenforcement cases.

The Cook Islands supported the views of Papua New Guinea, Canadaand others on transshipment. China said that conservation andmanagement measures should result from consultation with regionalorganizations. Catch statistics and other data should be sharedamong all member States, flag States and coastal States. Icelandmentioned that A/CONF.164/L.11 contains a comprehensive system ofenforcement. India supported Indonesia's suggestion to blacklistoffending vessels and prohibit transshipment close to the EEZ andJapan's proposal on enforcement measures against non-members.

Kiribati stressed the importance of observer and inspectionprogrammes. Tonga said that V(a)(xi) and 5(b) should mention thedevelopment of cooperative agreements, especially where coastalStates lack the capacity to carry out investigations. Australiasaid that regional agreements on enforcement should supplement flagState jurisdiction. Papua New Guinea said that V(a)(ix) should alsoinclude research on non-fish species. Korea commented thatsatellite data transmission is a heavy economic burden.


Chile said that newcomers to regional or subregional organizationsare not likely to be happy with quotas and parties already fishingdo not want to see their quotas reduced. Peru mentioned thepossibility of coastal States using mechanisms, such as thosedescribed in L.11, as well as a court of arbitration, access toports and economic measures. Canada said that States who choose notto belong to a regional organization may choose not to fish in thearea, so Article 118 of the Law of the Sea should not apply. Ifthey do, as the EC said earlier, they still have obligations not toundermine the effectiveness of regional organizations.

The Russian Federation said that this Conference must developmechanisms that would make it possible to impose obligations onStates starting to develop fishing industries to cooperate withexisting organizations. The EC raised four points: internationalfishing organizations should be open to all States interested inexploiting stocks; non-member States should be invited to joinregional organizations; even if they do not join regionalorganizations, States are not discharged from the obligation toconserve such stocks; and if a State does not want to join, the ECis not certain that sanctions should be applied. Morocco said thatmoral pressure should be brought to bear on non-cooperating states.Peru agreed with the EC that it is too premature at this stage totalk about sanctions on non-contracting parties, but that it isnecessary to have a mechanism that would be respected bynon-parties. The EC added that regional fishery organizations mustnot be closed shops.


Argentina said that the use of third parties for the settlement ofdisputes might be contemplated. Korea endorsed Argentina'sproposal. The US, endorsed by Poland, said that the decision-makingprocess within regional organizations should be improved. Canadasaid that it is difficult to find a technical issue not wrapped upin a policy decision. Japan mentioned that concrete disputemechanisms can best be dealt with regionally. The RussianFederation, supported by Uruguay, favored compulsory settlement ofdisputes.


Nandan's decision to hold an "open-ended" meeting with restrictedattendance caused considerable uproar from both delegates and NGOsat the end of yesterday's session. NGOs were quick to point outthat as part of the trend towards greater transparency in the UNsystem, NGOs have been allowed to observe informal negotiatingsessions at the UN since UNCED, including the Commission onSustainable Development and the Second PrepCom for theInternational Conference on Population and Development. Severaldelegates also questioned the decision to hold a single smallermeeting when time was short and progress should be made toward anegotiated text.


INFORMAL NEGOTIATIONS: Nandan has cancelled Plenary thismorning and possibly this afternoon. He announced yesterday thatinstead he is inviting experts to an open-ended meeting on datacollection and information gathering, which will convene in asmaller room, possibly Conference Room 6. These informalconsultations may continue in the afternoon when Nandan will holda restricted session on the use of the precautionary approach tomanagement. Look for confusion this morning as delegates competefor limited seating. Nandan has asked that Conference Room 2 beheld in reserve for today.

PLENARY: If Plenary is convened in the afternoon the onlyitem that remains from A/CONF.164/10 is VIII "Compatibility andcoherence between national and international conservation measuresfor the same stocks."


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