Daily report for 24 July 1995

5th Session of the FSA

The first meeting of the fifth substantive session of the United Nations Conference onStraddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks opened yesterday at UNHeadquarters in New York. This session of the Conference will further refine the textcontained in the Chair's Draft Agreement (A/CONF.164/22/ Rev.1) in addition tonegotiating unfinished business on Articles 14 and 21. Harmonization of the text intoall six UN languages is expected toward the end of the second week.

PLENARY

Conference Chair, Satya Nandan, opened the Plenary by reminding delegates that theConference has agreed to conclude its work at this session by adopting an agreementfor the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks (SFS) and highlymigratory fish stocks (HMFS). He said that national leaders at the 1992 Rio Summithad committed themselves to seeking a better world where natural resources areharvested for the benefit of all in a sustainable and environmentally safe manner.Fishing, both on the high seas and within zones of national jurisdiction, must be moreeffectively controlled if the sustainability of the world's fishery resources is to beassured.

The work of the Conference has been devoted to constructing a regime for fisheries tohave a sustainable future and make an effective contribution to world food security forpresent and future generations.

Nandan reported on two intersessional meetings. The first, convened by a USinitiative, covered the issue of enforcement by non-flag States. The second, convenedlast week by the Chair at UN Headquarters, dealt with the issue of enforcement. Hesaid a revised draft of Article 21 would be circulated.

The Chair said much of the time at this session must be devoted to technical workrelating to the finalization of the text and harmonization in all languages. A conferenceroom paper (A/CONF.164/CRP.7) reflected some preliminary work done by theSecretariat and editorial and translation services. He urged delegates not to re-openissues which are substantially settled, because the text is the product of extensivenegotiation and reflects a careful balance.

CANADA: The Hon. Brian Tobin, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans forCanada stated that five elements are necessary to ensure effective conservation andmanagement of fisheries: a legally binding agreement; proper conservation andmeasures that include the adoption of a precautionary approach; compatibility ofconservation and management measures both inside and outside 200 miles; a bindingand compulsory dispute settlement; and, a mechanism that allows intervention when aflag State is unable or unwilling to control its vessels on the high seas. He saidCanada's fisheries concerns also included the conservation and management of Pacificsalmon. A reduction in catches by Canada of 50 percent had not been matched by acorresponding reduction by the State of Alaska.

POLAND: Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Tadeusz Szozda, said Poland hasrecently reached an agreement with the Russian Federation on cooperation in fisheriesrelated to the Sea of Okhotsk. He noted the importance of treating SFS and HMFS asbiological units without prejudice to the area in which they are located and arguedagainst including any reference to high seas enclosures in waters under nationaljurisdiction in the Draft Agreement.

SAMOA: The Hon. Misa Telefoni Retzlaff, Minister for Agriculture, Forestand Fisheries, speaking on behalf of the 16 member countries of the South PacificForum Fisheries Agency (FFA), said the Draft Agreement, establishes an equitable andbalanced regime, a balance between the interests of coastal States and DWFNs, andclear minimum standards for fishery data collection.

THE EUROPEAN UNION: Director General J. Almeida Serra, supportedthe use of a clear, binding instrument based on consensus. He emphasized theimportance of: biological unity of stocks, the precautionary approach, compatibility ofmanagement and conservation measures, flag State control and responsibility,international cooperation, and the role of open regional and subregional fisheriesorganizations and arrangements.

UNITED STATES: Larry L. Snead, supported the Draft Agreement pointingout that it will effectively complement the recent entry into force of UNCLOS, theadoption of the FAO Fishing Vessel Compliance Agreement, and the CSD review ofthe oceans chapter of Agenda 21 next year. He emphasized that certain complianceand enforcement issues remain unresolved, but expressed cautious optimism after theintersessional meetings. The US is very interested in resolving the issue of anadromousPacific salmon stocks.

NORWAY: Mr. Dag Mjaaland expressed concern over the status of Article21, dealing with enforcement. He stated that the Norwegian delegation will address thenew issues raised in the intersessional period.

CHINA: The delegate from China stated that the Chair's draft Agreement iscomprehensive, but expressed concern over the principles of high seas enforcementand equal sharing of resources by States.

JAPAN: Horiguchi Matsushiro expressed concern over conservation andmanagement measures to be implemented on the high seas, and stated that Japan isprepared to accept a global boarding and inspection scheme only if it does not prohibitestablishment of alternative schemes by regional arrangements. He also reaffirmed acommitment to safeguards against excessive enforcement measures.

KOREA: Amb. Womil Cho noted that any agreement must be fullyconsistent with international law and UNCLOS, and added that effective cooperationmust balance responsibility through regional and sub-regional organizations. He calledfor the development of specific enforcement procedures at the local level andsafeguards against abuses of power, and stressed that regional organizations should beopen to all interested states.

PERU: Amb. Alfonso Arias-Schreiber noted that all states have understoodthe need for a binding agreement, but no one is fully satisfied with the drafted text ofthe agreement. He stated that Peru will submit proposals for consideration that arereasonable and consistent with UNCLOS, and urged delegations to adopt a restrictiveattitude.

ARGENTINA: Ernesto Gondra noted that informal consultations will benecessary to complete the work of this Conference. Overfishing is rampant in watersadjacent to Argentina's EEZ and national pressure for drastic measures has increased.Argentina urged delegates against making amendments, reopening issues, weakeningthe draft or upsetting the balance already achieved.

MALAYSIA: Dato' Shahrom B. HJ. Addul Majid stated the roles ofexisting subregional and regional organization should be reviewed to take account ofnew responsibilities in the context of this Draft Agreement. He recognized the FAO asthe most appropriate organization to put the finalized agreement into effect, andexpressed concern that any regionally agreed system of monitoring, control andsurveillance should complement, rather than replace, established systems.

UKRAINE: Dep. Min. V. Bondarenko noted that the balance contained inthe Draft Agreement resulted from the recognition by states that a legally bindingagreement is necessary. He noted the need for better information on fish stocks andrecommended a comprehensive study.

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION: Dr. Margarita Lizarragastated that FAO has been involved in a parallel process to develop an approach toresponsible fisheries and a Code of Conduct. To date, only the articles dealing withfisheries management and fishing operations remain to be agreed upon, andfinalization has been left in abeyance pending conclusion of this Conference. TheTechnical Committee of the FAO Council will consider the Code in Rome from 25 to29 September 1995, and it is proposed that the finalized Code will be submitted foradoption to Twenty-eighth Session of the FAO Conference in October 1995.

URUGUAY: The delegate from Uruguay supported a legally bindingconvention based on consensus among States to supplement UNCLOS. He emphasizedthat issues still needed to be addressed in enforcement, regional and subregionaldecision-making, and interim measures.

COMISION PERMANENTE DEL PACIFICO SUR (CPPS): Therepresentative stated that the Chair's Draft Agreement is a significant step forward,but agreed with Peru regarding concerns over Articles 6, 10 and 21. Of particularconcern is the use of port States' facilities by those who are known to have acted incontravention to conservation and management measures.

GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL: Mr. Matt Gianni called on delegatesto strengthen the text regarding the requirement to use selective fishing gear,compatibility of conservation and management measures, transparency and inexpressing the rights of fishworkers. He also urged more effort be directed towardissues such as government subsidies and food security.

INFORMAL PLENARY

Chile expressed concern over Article 8 (3), dealing with the generalrequirements for membership in regional and subregional arrangements andorganizations. He stated this issue is covered in UNCLOS, and suggested the additionof 'in accordance with Article 118 of the Convention'. The delegate also proposedthat Article 5 be modified to allow for coastal State interim control of fishing activitiesextending to the high seas until conservation and management measures can beimplemented. He expressed concern over Article 5 (j), which cross-references withAnnex 1, and stated that the Annex should provide only guidelines to regionalorganizations and should not be mandatory. The EU agreed that Article 8 isvery important in protecting all States involved. He said that Article 21 makes itpossible for coastal States and regional organizations to impose rules on DWFNs andrestated the EU commitment to open membership in these organizations.Peru commented that Article 8(3) should refer to organizational functioningin accordance with other provisions of the Convention, and presented specificproposals including: a functional definition of HMFS for Article 1, a requirement thatregional and subregional organizations take into account the rights of relevant coastalStates in Article 10, and an extended application of Article 21.

Japan made several recommendations, including: inserting a reference toregional fishery management organizations into Article 1(a); referring to a stockenhancement programme in Article 5(d); and deleting 'where a new fishery is beingpursued' from Article 8(2) as too prohibitive. Japan disagreed with the suggesteddeletion of 'best scientific information available' from Article 5(b), suggested that theGEF and CSD may not be appropriate bodies for Article 23 and expressed willingnessto explore better language for Article 8(3). The EU said that Article 3 (3),on application, must not weaken accepted universal principles, that Article 7 must bestrengthened not only with regard to the measures taken, but also their application andthat Article 17 (3), dealing with non-participants, also needs strengthening. The EUhad some difficulty with the Agreement's provisional entry into force. Referring tothe circulation of document A/CONF.164/CRP.7, the EU said the editorial changesundertaken amounted to substantial weakening of the Draft Agreement.Israel questioned the word 'transparency' in Article 15 and asked forclarification.

Thailand recognized the need to board vessels in certain circumstances, butprompt compensation should be effected if the boarding was proven unjustified. It isnot possible to 'ensure' that flag States vessels do not engage in unauthorized fishing,and he suggested that flag States should 'seek to ensure' that unauthorized fishing didnot occur within areas under the national jurisdiction of other States. Chinaproposed reference to Programme Area D of Agenda 21 in the Preamble. He saidthe definition of fish is redundant in Article 1 and should be replaced by a definitionof SFS. He said Article 14 is unnecessary as the definition of high seas already existsin UNCLOS. The Russian Federation said that Articles 13 and 14 dealingwith enclosed and semi-enclosed seas and enclaves must be retained in the DraftAgreement. He said that the exclusion of Article 14 would make the Draft Agreementunacceptable. He urged for inclusion of a species listing for SFS.

The Chair stated that a good start had been achieved because it was essential toidentify the specific issues pre-occupying some delegations. He added that some issueswould need further discussion, while other issues will only waste valuable time.Nandan said the programme of work for today would include informal consultationsfollowed by informal Plenary discussion on A/CONF.164/CRP.7

IN THE CORRIDORS

In contrast to the many positive statements delivered in Plenary yesterday morning,some delegates are questioning whether two weeks will be sufficient time to agreeupon a final text for harmonization into all UN languages.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: The Chair commences informalconsultations on Articles 14 and 21 in Room 5 at 9:30 am.

INFORMAL PLENARY: Informal Plenary will reconvene in ConferenceRoom 2 at 11:30. The Chair will commence a review of documentA/CONF.164/CRP.7

NGOs: NGOs will commence a special strategy session in Conference RoomA at 10:00 am.

Participants

Negotiating blocs
European Union
Non-state coalitions
NGOs

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