Daily report for 22 March 1994
2nd Session of the FSA
MORNING INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION
The Chair opened the meeting by inviting delegates to continueconsideration of Section IX of the negotiating text, "Compatibilityand coherence between national and international conservationmeasures for the same stock". The first delegate said that he hadno difficulties in principle with the concept of conservation andmanagement measures "equivalent in effect" on the high seas, but aquestion arises as to exactly what the notion signifies. Hesuggested the establishment of certain criteria which would explainthe concept in detail. Another delegate said that the question ofhow to achieve compatibility and coherence within conservation andmanagement measures on the high seas clearly differs between thestraddling fish stocks and the highly migratory fish stocks. Stillanother delegate said that if there is no uniform treatment of thebiomass, then there is no effective regime of conservation andmanagement. The biological unity of the stocks cannot be subject tonegotiations with regard to national and international conservationmeasures, but the principle of the biological unity of speciesshould not undermine the sovereignty of the coastal States in theEEZs. Any fishing on the high seas has a profound effect on themanagement of resources in the EEZ. Paragraph 47 should be broughtinto line with Articles 63 and 64 of UNCLOS. One delegate said thatUNCLOS provides for conservation and management of living resourcesin areas of national jurisdiction. Several delegates said that thefirst sentence of paragraph 48 should be presented as a separateparagraph, while another said that the internal logic of paragraph48 should not be disturbed too much. Yet another delegate said thatparagraph 48 should be reworded so that States fishing on the highseas in areas adjacent to EEZs shall cooperate with coastal Statesdirectly or through regional arrangements or organizations toensure the long-term viability of the stocks. Some delegates saidthat paragraph 49 favors the coastal States, and more balance isneeded in this paragraph. A delegate said that the concept ofecosystem management should be introduced here. One delegate statedthat paragraph 51 could be strengthened by incorporating the dutyto cooperate in conservation and management agreements, whileanother said that any change in this paragraph would lead to alegal vacuum. The deletion here of the word "voluntary" wassupported by a number of delegations, since where there is noagreement, destructive fishing continues.
AFTERNOON INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION
The afternoon session resumed with a last reference to the scope ofthe Conference and the answer of a coastal State to a distantfishing State who had claimed that reference to the high seas wasnot explicit in the General Assembly resolution. The Chair urgeddelegates once more to stick to the issues at hand and stay clearof jurisdictional matters. A delegate warned against the claim thathas been made by some that coastal States are attempting to imposea dictatorship. While UNCLOS binds coastal States on the measuresthat they need to take, the Convention does not restrict this dutyto the high seas. All States have a duty to cooperate, butcompatibility of measures for conservation should give advantage tocoastal States. Another State said that the search for a balance ofinterests is elusive and this question might be better addressedthrough a regional approach.
An NGO representative, speaking on behalf of several NGOs, saidthat a UN declaration laying out minimum standards should only bean interim measure to prepare the way for a legally-bindingconvention. She also urged that a distinction be made between thedistant water fleets that provide for luxury markets in northerncountries and the coastal States fisheries that contributesignificantly to protein needs of their people. Another NGO saidthat the strictest EEZ regimes are models that should be followed.The Chair closed the debate by saying that he felt the discussionhad been fruitful, although a vast gap is still apparent betweenthe different views. He then introduced Section X of the text onthe special requirements of developing countries, and highlightedthat it was the result of last year's discussions on the topic. Hesaid that developing coastal States need assistance if they are toparticipate in the conservation and management of marine livingresources. In this respect, data and information on high seasstocks are not sufficient and must also be made available on thestocks within the EEZ of coastal developing States. DevelopingStates also need assistance in settling disputes.
Several States commented on this section. It was highlighted thata fund should be created to assist developing States in mattersother than the peaceful settlement of disputes. A developing Stateadded that assistance should be applied to all aspects ofconservation and management. This Conference needs to be seenwithin the context of UNCED and a link must be made between thisConference and the Global Conference on the Sustainable Developmentof Small Island Developing States. Although developing States havea strong interest in the conservation and management of theseresources, it must be recognized that they will have difficultiesimplementing the general measures adopted. The measures should nottransfer an undue burden to developing States. Several amendmentswere proposed to detail in what areas assistance is needed. Adelegate said that access to markets would be more efficient thanany other form of assistance.
It was argued that developing States should receive preferentialaccess to areas adjacent to their high seas, but it was alsounderstood that this access should not lead to overfishing. Adelegate said that greater opportunities to fish would also carrya greater responsibility, both in the EEZ and on the high seas.References were made to the work of the CSD, the Global EnvironmentFacility (GEF) and the FAO. As in Agenda 21, quantitativeobjectives should be defined to take into account the cost ofapplication of various provisions.
The representative of an African State said that it was importantthat efficient enforcement and surveillance measures be set up toensure that distant water States fully implement their obligationsto developing countries. Local people, and women in particular,should be taken into consideration. Part of the objective should beto help developing States formulate national strategies forfisheries and to eliminate poverty and promote sustainabledevelopment. A delegate said that assistance could be channeledthrough successful regional arrangements and those communities thathave joined their efforts.
A developed country representative said that many useful amendmentshad been made but that they needed to be examined carefully toensure compatibility with other requirements of the text. All thedelegates agreed that this was a crucial part of the Chair'sdocument and that the special needs of developing countries must betaken into account. An NGO representative delivered a statementfrom the Women's Caucus in which she said that the text failed totake into account the crucial role women play in fisheriesworldwide. The Chair agreed that his document did not reflect thefact that fisheries are gender-neutral.
WORKING GROUP ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT REFERENCE POINTS
Six delegations and two NGOs made submissions to the Chair of theWorking Group on Fisheries Management. These, together with theinitial working group comments, were developed into a draft workingtext by the Secretariat. The text was available to delegates priorto the resumption of the Working Group discussions. Chair Rosenbergintroduced the six-page text, which includes five sections: (I) anintroduction; (II) the development of management objectives; (III)target and limit reference points; (IV) uncertainty; and (V)linkage to management. He said that while the text was long, themajor agreed concepts were fully elaborated. At the outset he saidthere was a need to strive for technical consensus, and he feltthis realistically was attainable.
On Section I, a distant water fishing (DWF) State delegate spoke ofa preference to see the draft text referenced back to the FAOdocument (A/CONF.164/INF/9), which included a useful shopping listof reference points. He also said the guidelines needed to beflexible for practical fisheries management, because no referencepoint was perfect. The Chair said it was important not to enshrinereference points, because they needed updating in the light ofimproved data and technology.
A delegate referring to paragraph 5 said there was a need toamplify all forms of mortality, especially toxin-induced, thatcaused man-made fisheries diseases. The FAO representative said thetext catered more for selectivity and habitat destruction issuesthat are biologically reversible, than for biological degradation,which is irreversible.
A Like-Minded core group delegate recommended the introduction ofthe safe biological unit concept as identified by the InternationalCouncil for Exploration of the Seas (ICES), which was supported byother delegates. The FAO said it was important to recognize theconcept, but only in general terms agreed by technicians andscientists. Another Like-Minded core group member said the MaximumSustainable Yield (MSY) concept should be developed further inparagraph 7 as an objective reference point for building upfisheries and that fish stocks be regarded as biological units. Adelegate agreed that the MSY could be established as a targetreference point, and when reached, it could be interpreted as alimiting reference point. Another DWF State delegate said that,theoretically, it is not good to set the MSY as a recovery target.A fourth Like-Minded core group member said that while the textinitially appeared long, the inherent complexity of fisheriesmanagement reference points required unavoidable lengthyexplanation to be of practical value to the end user. He also notedthat habitat destruction is a reality that needed incorporatinginto the text, as did the matter of irreversibility becauseequilibrium yield changes. He suggested the stochastic approachmight be included in Section I. A DWF State said it would bedifficult to set reference points for non-target species.Alternative "non-target" species language was suggested in the formof incidental catch, bycatch or multi-species terminology.
During discussion of Section II, the development of managementobjectives, the Chair reminded delegates that the purview of theWorking Group is to provide technical advice to the Plenary, andnot to become embroiled in compatibility and coherence issues. ADWF State delegate said he did not understand the reference tosocial and economic differences in Section II paragraph 2. TheOptimal Sustainable Yield (OSY) did not have a technical definitionbut it could be established by a set of reference points.Throughout Section II there was a preference by coastal State andDWF State delegates to delete references to the State andsovereignty issues.
A delegate emphasized the need for management objectives torecognize long-term conservation of living marine resources andthat there should be reference in the text to ecosystem management.A DWF State delegate said ecosystem management requiredconsiderable analysis, as it is important to recognize what isrealistically achievable under such a management approach. AnotherDWF State delegate said that there should not be a mix of differentmeanings because a reference to biological reference points wouldcover ecosystem management.
Under Section III, delegates felt that the inclusion of Annex 1 ofthe FAO document would be a beneficial addition to the text, butthere was concern that the FAO document should be referred to as awhole, because of its technical value. A regional fisheriescommission representative said that it was necessary to questionthe use of an MSY reference point in a developing fishery, as it isimpossible to estimate the initial MSY value. A developing coastalState delegate said it is necessary to recognize changes in speciescomposition as an indicator in management. The FAO said it isnecessary to identify global models of management and while theconcept of reference points is useful, the Working Group shouldalso think analytically, because in the future it might benecessary to develop analytical models with separate referencepoints for breeding and spawning areas. In closing the secondsession of the Working Group, the Chair said the Secretariat wouldwork throughout the night preparing revisions of Sections I, II andIII, prior to resuming consideration of Sections IV and V thismorning.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: Discussion will resume this morning on Section XIon the review of the implementation of conservation and managementmeasures. The delegates will then turn their attention to Annex 1of the Chair's text on data collection for the conservation andmanagement of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fishstocks. They will also examine an alternative proposal on thatmatter submitted by the Japanese delegation.
WORKING GROUP ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT REFERENCE POINTS: The Working Group will resume this morning at 10:00 am in ConferenceRoom 6 for consideration of Sections IV and V of the draft text onFisheries Management Reference Points. It is expected that thiswill be completed by the end of the meeting. The Working Groupwill then reconvene in the afternoon for consideration of therevised text, which the Chair expects will be returned to the Plenary towards the end of the afternoon.