Daily report for 20 July 1993

1st Session of the FSA

The Plenary did not meet on Tuesday so that the Chair, SatyaNandan, could convene informal consultations on data requirementsfor the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks andhighly migratory fish stocks. This smaller meeting was held in aconference room more conducive to frank face-to-face negotiations.

During a meeting with a small group of NGOs before the session,Nandan and the NGOs agreed that two NGO representatives would beallowed to observe the informal sessions. At this meeting, Nandansaid that it was his objective to begin drafting text to be latersubmitted to the Plenary. He explained that in order to have amanageable working group, he requested all participants, includingthe Secretariat, to limit their numbers. This method of work issimilar to that adopted during the Third UN Conference on the Lawof the Sea.

During Tuesday's informal session, Nandan distributed a discussionpaper containing the following five subheadings: fishery datacollection; basic fishery data requirements; vessel data andinformation; data reporting and verification; and data exchange.


HIGH SEAS/EEZ: As was highlighted by several delegates, theFAO has been instrumental in gathering data on high seas fisheries.Yet some participants insisted that there was a need to define thekind of catch that was involved, and particularly if this effortwas not to be limited to straddling and highly migratory species.The past work of the FAO also raises the point of whether data onhigh seas fisheries should be compatible with that gathered on EEZfisheries. At most, 10% of the fishing takes place on the high seasand, therefore, the data should be consistent within and outsidethe EEZ. Other questions raised included: what reporting isalready being done; are specific zones being covered, and whattypes of logbook statistics are being compiled.

REPORTING OF DATA: Discussion focussed on what catch figuresshould be included: discards and undersized fish, catch of targetedspecies and non-targeted species, biological composition of catch,number of vessels, capacity and activity. There is also a need todistinguish what is caught inside and outside the EEZ. There wasconcern that data from within EEZs are a matter of nationalsovereignty. Data collected should be representative. There wasalso discussion on the reliability and the timeliness of the datagathered from log sheets and data bases.

It was suggested that data be reported by gear, year, longitude andlatitude. Other comments included: data can be given on biologicalcomposition; the possibility of having minimum sets of standardsthat national statistics offices must meet; should data be sampledon transshipment or at point of sale; and is data on the stock asa whole being provided.

DATA ANALYSIS: Discussion focussed on the treatment of theraw data. Questions raised included: for what purpose are the datacollected and is there an effort being made to harmonize thecollection of data. Data collection should have two goals: to dealwith the impact of fishing on the stocks and to be used forscientific purposes. It was indicated that data gathered fromresearch or scientific vessels should be treated separately fromsampling catches.

DATA TRANSMISSION AND REPOSITORIES: Discussion focussed onwhom data should be transmitted to, in what form, to do what, andaccording to what rules. It was suggested that either regionalorganizations or, when there are none, coastal States can serve asdata repositories. Regional organizations, acting as the collectingagents, can then assemble data the way the FAO does. The FAO couldbe the ultimate archives holder. Some delegates were not convincedthat coastal States should have control of the information on dataexchange and stressed the need for a free flow of information. Onthe form in which data should be transmitted, it was mentioned thatsome countries have national statistics offices and that theirformat should be used. Other suggestions included use of FAOformats or regional organization formats. The data gathered maythen be used to determine maximum sustainable yield (MSY) orecological models in the future. Data banks should be linked toeach other. It was also asked to what extent provisions in existingtreaties shed light on cooperative arrangements. Data should beexchanged among as many countries as possible. Data sharing can becompulsory.


On this issue, a question was raised on whether scientific data andcatch data should be handled separately. There appeared to beconsensus on moving Items 6 and 7 (length, weight and sexcomposition, and other biological parameters) under this heading toa separate section to be titled "Scientific Data Exchange." It wasalso suggested that Item 7 be expanded to include oceanographic andecological data. Another issue was whether the measures prescribedindicate the minimum amount of data that States should provide oronly the path along which they should proceed.

After a brief discussion, it was agreed to use the FAO formula fornominal weight to determine the weight of fish catches. Otherquestions raised included: should States simply make their bestefforts to describe data; should data facilitate effective stockassessment; how essential to conservation and management is thedetailed provision of data; and what data should be provided ondiscard statistics: estimates on weight and number, or morespecific information.


One issue raised was whether vessel size should be linked to otherstatistics in effort data. There was also some concern thatrequesting data from individual vessels is too specific to be dealtwith on a global basis and should be left to regionalorganizations. It was not determined just how detailed the datarequirements should be. What type of information should be providedon individual vessels: dates (which could be helpful with regard toseasonal information) and times? Would such information be toospecific? Are such data necessary for research or for monitoringand compliance? The issue might be left to be addressed by regionalorganizations. Some delegations expressed the view that collectionof data on individual vessels was maybe going too far and that amore global approach should be adopted. Some countries argued thatrequesting data that are too specific might prove troublesome.


The issue of the use of satellite transponders gave rise toconsiderable discussion. According to an FAO study, the cost issmall when compared to the cost of vessels, navigation equipmentand operational costs. A number of delegates commented that thecost of transponders should be borne by the industry. Questionsraised include: should all vessels carry transponders (includingthose that fish primarily in EEZs); what is the implication oncoastal countries; what exact role should these transponders playand how can they contribute to real time evaluation. A number ofdelegates described their country or region's experience withtransponders and how they can be used for position reporting and/orthe transmission of real time catch and effort data.

Some delegates commented that aerial surveillance can also be animportant tool for verification and should be mentioned in thisdocument. Others argued that aerial surveillance is an effectivetool but has nothing to do with data reporting and verification andshould be taken up under a section on compliance. There was asuggestion that the paper differentiate between data reporting andverification/compliance/enforcement. Others stressed that reportingand verification are intertwined and should be considered together,as they are in the Chair's discussion paper.

The use of ships' logs to verify catch was also mentioned. Theissue of who should bear the cost of aerial, surface or satellitesurveillance and/or verification was also discussed. Some countriessaid that the cost was the responsibility of the coastal States,whereas others said that this was the responsibility of the distantwater fishing States.


The Eastern European regional group has still not reached agreementon its nomination to the Bureau. This matter had been deferred fromthe organizational session, when the Russian Federation blocked thePolish candidacy over the problem of pollock fishing in theso-called "Peanut Hole", which is bound by the Russian EEZ in theSea of Okhotsk. At a meeting held in Moscow in May 1993 attended bythose countries fishing in the area, the framework for furthernegotiations was agreed on. Japan agreed to stop fishing in theregion and other countries, including Poland, agreed to reducetheir catch by 25%. Nevertheless, in June the Russian Federationannounced a unilateral moratorium in the Sea of Okhotsk for allfishing. As there has still not been any resolution on the Polishcandidacy during this session, Poland has mentioned the possibilityof a vote in Plenary on this matter. Conference Chair Nandan hastaken the matter into his hands and is holding privateconsultations.


At the end of Tuesday's session, Nandan announced that informalmeetings will continue today. The first item on the agenda will becompletion of the Chair's discussion paper on data requirements forthe conservation and management of straddling fish stocks andhighly migratory fish stocks. The section on data exchange stillmust be discussed. When the discussion on this item is complete,the Chair is expected to move on to a discussion of the precautionary approach. Nandan may distribute a paper on theprecautionary approach at the outset of the discussion. Informaldiscussions are likely to continue through Thursday, with theresumption of Plenary on Friday.


Negotiating blocs
Brazil, South Africa, China, India
Non-state coalitions