Daily report for 24 March 1994
2nd Session of the FSA
MORNING INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION.
The Chair opened the session by introducing his draft of Annex I ondata requirements as well as the Japanese alternative text.Delegates have recognized that one of the tools for bettermanagement of the resources is the requirement for scientific data.Unless this becomes available the Conference cannot achieve thegoals of its mandate.
Japan said its text was not designed to water down the Chair's negotiating text. Fishing of stocks must carry the obligation toexchange data through the appropriate regional body, as providedfor in Articles 61(5) and 119(2) of UNCLOS. Japan, as a distantwater fishing State (DWFS), collects data, since all vessels flyingits flag are required to provide this data. It is necessary to keepin mind the mis-reporting of catch data, which is important toscience and decision-making processes, but also to ensure thecooperation of fishers. The delegate expressed doubt as to thepracticality of promoting the Chair's appreciation of the minimumdata requirement provisions, and said he had problems with theillustrated flow chart. Decisions on data collection should be leftto regional arrangements or organizations. Japan also has problemswith the release of data and information that it considers to becommercially confidential and which therefore needs to beprotected. Another delegate responded that the unavailability ofcommercially confidential information creates problems for theappreciation by States of biomass levels. Delegates did not havethe same views on what should remain confidential and what islikely to undermine the conservation measures and needs to bedisclosed.
A Like-Minded core group delegate said that formal reporting ofcatch data rests with the flag State, but while fishing in thecoastal State's EEZ, flag State vessels are also required to reportto that coastal State. Where no regional organization exists, theflag State should report to one of the coastal States in theregion. The Japanese proposal has merit in being shorter, but itssubstantive requirements are less comprehensive than those of theChair's text. A representative speaking on behalf of States fromthe South Pacific said she felt that the Japanese text had somemerit in the area of data dissemination through regionalorganizations. All fisheries data needs to be assembled andanalyzed in support of Section IX on compatibility and coherence.
The first DWFS delegate to speak said that the data requirementsshould be general in all cases, and that this should be reflectedin the title of Annex 1. Paragraph 1 should emphasize the mandatoryelements of data collection, because without such data, optimummanagement of fish stocks is impossible. He preferred substitutionof the phrase "within the area of the straddling fish stocks andhighly migratory fish stocks" for "high seas" in paragraph 3 of theChair's text.
Another DWFS delegate supported the Japanese proposal as being"appropriate and consistent with paragraph 2 of General Assemblyresolution 47/192". His flag State fishing vessels are required bylaw to report their position to the national fishingadministration, but are not legally required to reveal where theircatches were taken. Such information could, however, be revealed tothe coastal State's fishing administration.
One delegate said that the La Jolla workshop highlighted the gapsin data collection. Technical details vary from region to region,but one problem of high seas statistics is caused by theconfidentiality of catch data, especially for tuna. Coastal Stateshave a legal interest to quickly obtain information from fisheriesoutside their EEZs for the purpose of establishing managementmeasures. Supporting the intervention of a Like-Minded core groupmember, one delegate emphasized the need to monitor associated anddependent species as well as target stocks. The requirements shouldextend to those States that are not party to the regionalarrangements.
The bridge that the Japanese proposal builds in the flow chartbetween coastal States national fisheries administrations and DWFSfishery administrations is a positive point that ought to beretained. Another delegate said that the flow chart could be moresimple as there are only three cases: coastal vessels fishing inthe EEZ and the reporting of data goes directly to the flag State;a DFWS fishing in the EEZ of another State and the data istransferred to the flag State and the coastal State; or a DWFSvessel fishing on the high seas and then it should report to itsown flag State, which will in turn transfer the information to theregional organization.
Taking into account the volume of discards is an important datacomponent and a delegate pointed out that one fleet's discardspecies may well be another fleet's target species. The datacollected should be used to make projections so that it is possibleto know what stocks will exist depending on what effort is applied.With regard to the examination of log books, a delegate said thatthere is so much information that it is not realistic to expect tocheck all the log books of all vessels. The delegate of adeveloping State said that observers may board vessels as long asthey have been invited by the regional organization, but it isimportant to avoid any idea of coercion. The role of theseobservers should be limited to collection of data, but they shouldnot be involved in enforcement. A delegate remarked that thereference to historical catches in paragraph 4.a was too strict andasked if the authors wanted to go back to the times when St. Peterwas fishing.
There was disagreement again on the scope of application of themeasures on the high seas and within EEZs, as a representativeargued that the coastal State has more interest in seeing that theright information is circulated than the DWFS do. The same delegateasked that references to the high seas be retained. Severaldelegates felt that the Chair's text and the Japanese proposal werenot necessarily mutually exclusive.
The IOC intervention recommended the inclusion of an additionalsub-paragraph that will require future fisheries data toincreasingly recognize oceanographic contaminants, habitat andecological changes as environmental factors.
AFTERNOON INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION
The Chair invited continuation of comments on Annex 1 and on theJapanese alternative proposal. One delegate said that thefundamental element here is supporting the development ofsustainable management practices. Another delegate said that hecould neither reject or accept the report of the La Jolla meetingat this time. He merely considered it a meaningful backgrounddocument. A number of delegates voiced their concern thatcollecting and disseminating data should be used for conservationand management purposes and that the data is thereforeconfidential. Confidentiality of data is essential to maintain fullcooperation of fishers in supplying reliable data.
One delegate said that regional and subregional organizations andthe FAO should not be excluded from collecting and preparing dataconcerning straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.Another delegate stated that the flag State is responsible forcollecting data. Nations fishing on the high seas should not berequired to provide data on the high seas to a coastal Statewithout an agreement with the nation fishing on the high seas,either in a bilateral agreement or through a regional organization.
Both the Chair's text and the Japanese alternative have positiveand important solutions, and perhaps the best way to meetrequirements for the whole exercise is to merge the two texts.Others expressed the opinion that it might be difficult to mergethe two texts, but if discussion was held in a smaller group, itwould be welcome and appreciated. One delegate said that scientificobservers should not be the instruments for verifying what themaster of the ship does, as the master is responsible for theinformation he provides. Scientific observers only collect data soas to assess impact on the stocks.
Collection of data on associated species from fisheries andscientific research should be emphasized in the Annex. Severaldelegates favored strengthening paragraph 2 of the Chair's text ontraining and assistance to developing countries, as well asstrengthening the infrastructure of developing countries to allowaccess to data bases. Another delegate stated that paragraphs 4through 11 in the Chair's text set out the minimum requirements fornecessary data on the conservation and management of fish stocks.A non-governmental organization stated that confidentiality shouldnot be used as an excuse to withhold data which is essential to theconservation and management of fish resources. The exchange of datashould cover straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fishstocks throughout their ranges and she voiced concern about theconfidentiality clause on non-aggregated data. It is important toinclude in paragraph 2 references to the importance of artisanalfishing in the provision of protein for people and of the role ofwomen in fisheries. Discard statistics for target and non-targetspecies should be specifically required. Data on indirect mortalityof target and non-target species should also be collected. AnotherNGO emphasized the need for transparency of data and references tonutritional value of lost fish in discards as a basic fishery datarequirement.
The Chair concluded discussion on this topic and said that thereports of the two Working Groups would be presented, with theChairs of the two Working Groups introducing the papers. The Chairof the Working Group on the Precautionary Approach said that theoriginal document contained a chapeau and five subparagraphs. Therevised text contains a chapeau and six subparagraphs. The textincludes new techniques for managing resources, reduction ofbycatch where feasible, and a consideration of ecosystems inmanaging fish stocks.
The Chair of the second Working Group on Reference Points statedthat all technical concepts were agreed on by consensus and thatthe Working Group only considered technical requirements for thedevelopment of scientific management advice. An importantdistinction was the difference between reference points used as alimit for management and those used as targets, designed forpolicymakers. Several delegates said that the range of applicationof these measures is limited to the high seas. Another delegatestated that subparagraph (a) in the revised draft of thePrecautionary Approach text requires that States take into accountsocio-economic conditions of those States fishing the stock inquestion. The purpose here is not to mitigate or water down theconservation measures which would otherwise be appropriate tomaintain or restore the stock. Bycatch cannot just be reduced onlyto the extent feasible.
DOWN THE CORRIDORS
Delegates had a chance to consult informally with the Chairyesterday to consider some of the proposed changes to thenegotiating text. A number of Like-Minded and distant water fishingStates participated. The Chair invited delegates to reflect onthese proposed changes overnight for further discussion in aninformal meeting this morning.
IN THE CORRIDORS
There was talk in the corridors on the repercussions within theLike-Minded States core group from yesterday's splintering overparagraph 4 on the interpretation of reference points andbiological units in the Working Group on Reference Points. Somedelegates mentioned that support by some representatives for thepositions of their colleagues exposed the contention remaining fromyesterday's debate. NGOs were heard expressing their disappointmentthat no consensus was achieved on this important technicaldocument.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: The Conference will resume at 11:00 am with furtherconsideration of the Working Group reports on the PrecautionaryApproach (A/CONF.164/WP.1, dated 21 March 1994) and ReferencePoints for Fisheries Management (A/CONF.164/WP.2, dated 24 March1994).
INFORMAL-INFORMALS: Conference Chair, Satya Nandan, willconvene another informal consultation with delegates in ConferenceRoom 6 at 9:30 am. These informals are to assist the Chair in hispreparations for the final revised negotiating text.