Daily report for 25 March 1994

2nd Session of the FSA


The Chair opened the morning session at 11:30 am after conductingtwo hours of informal-informal consultations with delegates. ThePlenary continued its review in informal session of the WorkingGroups' documents. Dr. Rosenberg, the Chair of the Reference PointsWorking Group, speaking in reply to Thursday's opening statements,emphasized the strong link between the precautionary approach andthe technical guidelines for use as reference points. Both WorkingGroups deal with the development of management strategies, not thetactics used to implement those strategies. He highlighted theconsensus reached by the participants of the Reference PointsWorking Group and disagreed with the statement made by aLike-Minded core group delegate that paragraph 4 has anything to dowith sovereignty issues or where the measures will apply. A distantwater fishing State (DWFS) delegate regretted that the statement ofone Like-Minded core group delegate moved the Conference back towhere it had been at the end of the first substantive session byattempting to renegotiate UNCLOS rather than addressing thebiological unity of stocks across their entire range. Two delegatessupported this view stating that management models should bedeveloped on the basis of scientific data, collected from theentire range of the stocks, and urged inclusion of thePrecautionary Approach document in the negotiating text. Thebiomass producing MSY should be used as a tool in the rebuilding ofstocks. Additional environmental factors such as those proposed bythe IOC also need to be included. A delegate said that high seasfisheries not only pose legal problems but also fundamentalbiological problems and he reminded the Conference that thereproduction capacity of the stocks concerned is limited, whilefishing capacity is unlimited. Precautionary management inparagraph 5 of Annex 1 is applicable both to the high seas and tothe EEZs of coastal States.

Andres Couve, Chair of the Precautionary Approach Working Group,spoke in support of the maintenance of the socio/economicconditions in Working Paper 1, but he said that it should haveparallel priority with climatic and oceanographic factors. Bycatchminimization is necessary, but it cannot be reduced beyond what istechnically possible. Recovery plans to halt overfishing can bereached under pre-agreed plans, not a pre-agreed course of actionas stated in paragraph (c). But, in developing new fisheries, it isessential that vessels release catch information data to establishconservation and management measures. The concept of moratorium isan element of conservation management that cannot be explicitlyruled out. He said that with regard to consensus within the WorkingGroup on Reference Points, more discussion needs to take place. Heasked the Chair to accept his alternative proposal on paragraph 4.

The representative of a coastal State reflected on his statementmade Thursday and said that, in view of the jurisdictionalquestions raised by the Precautionary Approach, there is no doubtthat the guidelines of the Working Group apply to the coastalStates within their EEZs as well as to States fishing on the highseas. Sensitivities cloud issues and divert the delegates fromfinding common ground in search of solutions to the problems of thestocks.

Another delegate said the concept of socio/economic conditionsraised ambiguities and would be better addressed elsewhere. WorkingPaper 1 language needs to be brought in conformity with UNCLOSterminology. She said Working Paper 2 can be distilled into asingle page document but needs polishing up. A developing countrydelegate spoke of the importance of socio/economic conditions,since protein and nutrition should be available to all peoples andthe Conference should emphasize the importance of all human beings.The ultimate objective of sustainable development for futuregenerations must be maintained rather than the rash exploitation ofresources without productive utilization of bycatch.

The explicit recognition of "moratoria" in the PrecautionaryApproach language as a management tool was not supported by DWFSdelegates. The final speaker of the morning session expressed hisastonishment at the intervention of a Like-Minded core group memberthe previous day that had affected support for the Working Group'sreports. He strongly supported the socio/economic language andreminded delegates of the concept contained in the FAO paper onPrecautionary Approach and the Code of Conduct. He could not agreewith the insertion of "productive utilization of bycatch", becausethe emphasis is on conservation and not on utilization ofresources. He supported the concept but suggested that it be placedelsewhere in the text.


The Chair convened the afternoon session of Plenary in informalsession for further consideration of the reports of the two WorkingGroups. One delegation emphasized that the precautionary approachis the fundamental element of good management. The precautionaryapproach is consonant with UNCLOS to secure long-term sustainablefishing and to protect the surrounding marine environment. The bestscientific information available must necessarily be an essentialmanagement tool. Several delegates asked for a clarification on theterm "best scientific evidence available".

One delegate suggested a minor modification to clarify language,saying that the use of the term "scientific information" madebetter sense than "scientific evidence". Another delegate said thatthe revised draft of paragraph 5 of the Chair's negotiating textpresented no major difficulties if a paragraph was added statingthat the coastal States concerned should coordinate theestablishment and implementation of precautionary measures. Heagreed that coherence was needed, but coordination does notauthorize distant water fishing States to participate with the samerights as the coastal State within the coastal State's EEZ. Properrestrictions within and outside the EEZ apply under UNCLOS andshould not be undermined by the concept of biological unity.

One delegate stated that the documents prepared are applicable tothe regime being set up for the high seas. Another delegate saidthat it was impossible to distill a document that took three daysto complete and that such a process would be useless. Onerepresentative said that language concerning regional fisherymanagement organizations should be made consistent with languagefound throughout the negotiating text. The same delegate supportedprotecting straddling fish stocks and highly migratory stocksthroughout their range. He supported the idea that full accountmust be taken of socio-economic conditions. Subparagraph (b),dealing with the precautionary approach, can only be valid whenserious and irreversible damage is done, as is stated in Principle15 of the Rio Declaration.

A delegate stated that conservation of stocks comes first and thatlegal argumentation is of a secondary nature. He cited Articles 61and 62 of UNCLOS that economic factors and the need of coastalcommunities must be taken into account in conserving resources.However, another delegate underscored the inclusion ofsocio-economic conditions, questioning its inclusion into paragraph(a), a paragraph which deals with biological data. In paragraph (a)(bis), regarding the management of fish stock, he favored talkingabout the impact of fishing on components of the ecosystem, not theecosystem as a whole. Sufficient reflection has not been given torestoration of stocks in the document. He said that the importanceof bycatch should be inserted in (a) (bis). This is of particularimportance to developing countries. He continued by saying thatanother important amendment is the proposal in paragraph (c) onpreviously agreed-to recovery plans. Once reference points areexceeded and there is a necessity to facilitate recovery of stocks,that recovery should come through a trigger mechanism.

Three NGOs made statements. One NGO identified some key points:management objectives should be set for each fishery; target andlimit reference points should be set for each fishery; Statesshould cooperate on collecting and sharing data for the estimationof reference points; MSY is an international minimum standard fora limit reference point, but in addition target and limit pointsshould be stock-specific and species-specific; managementstrategies should be structured to ensure that target referencepoints are not exceeded on average and that the risk of exceedinglimit reference points is low.

Another NGO recommended the deletion of the phrase "andsocio-economic conditions". Short-term economic gain has drivenfisheries management policy in the past. Retention of the phrasewould ultimately undermine the conservation intent of the document.Socio-economic references are inapplicable in texts seeking toachieve and maintain the biological integrity of living marineresources and their habitats. One other representative expressedthe frustration of other NGOs at the reluctance of coastal Statesto see measures apply in their EEZs. Principles and standards mustapply throughout the range of the stocks but it must be made clearthat this will not give DWFSs any special access to future quotas.


Delegates consulted informally with the Chair on Friday morning,prior to the Plenary session on the revised negotiating text.During the two hours of informal discussion delegates considerednew drafts for Sections I and II of the revised negotiating text.Section I on "Application", is an addition to the text, while theprevious Section I on "General Principles" now features as SectionII.


PLENARY: The Plenary will not meet today and there will notbe any formally scheduled sessions. The Chair announced on Fridaythat Plenary will not reconvene until Wednesday morning, when hehopes to resume formal consultations on his revised text. Nandan'sobjective is to produce a composite revised negotiating text thatdelegates can take home at the end of this week. Look for copies ofthe draft revised text, on a section-by-section basis, to enterinto circulation. The Credentials Committee, chaired by Argentina,meets today and will report back to the Conference towards the endof this week.

INFORMAL-INFORMALS: The Chair resumes his informalconsultations behind closed-doors with delegates in Conference Room6 at 9:30 am this morning. These informal consultations areexpected to continue for two full working days, and will enableNandan to propose some of the revisions to his negotiating text inprivate. These closed-session consultations suggest that there aremany sensitive issues yet to be resolved. It is expected that allNGOs and other observers will be excluded from these meetings.

IN THE CORRIDORS: Even though Nandan's original programme ofwork has deviated from the course, delegates appear pleased withthe progress of the Conference thus far. Comments in the corridors,however, indicate a preference to extend the current mandate givenby the General Assembly for one additional year, until 1995. Thebackground reasoning for this is, as yet, unclear. It is believedto be quite separate from the Swedish proposal (A/CONF.164/L.39)that, among other matters, seeks to establish an IntergovernmentalNegotiating Committee (INC) to develop a Convention. An extensionof this Conference might provide a soft law framework to includeother marine environmental issues affecting the high seas, as outlined in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21.


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