Summary report, 11–12 March 2008

7th Round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the UNFSA

The seventh round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA or the Agreement) met from 11-12 March 2008, at UN headquarters in New York.

Attended by approximately 160 participants and convened pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 62/177 of 18 December 2007, this round of Informal Consultations reviewed progress towards the implementation of the Agreement, including outcomes of its 2006 Review Conference and considered the date and venue of the resumed Review Conference and the next round of informal consultations, and its recommendations to the 63rd session of the General Assembly.

The consultations registered continued progress in the implementation of the UNFSA, especially at the national, subregional and regional levels, and increased compliance with UNFSA by non-parties. The two key achievements from this round of consultations were the in-depth engagement in dialogue on the obstacles to wider participation in the UNFSA by non-parties and developing countries, and agreement on the date and venue of the resumed Review Conference, and the modalities for its preparatory process.


The UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, called for by Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, was convened by the UN General Assembly to address problems related to the harvesting of these stocks on the high seas. Six substantive sessions were held from 1993 to 1995, resulting in the adoption of the UNFSA in August 1995. The UNFSA entered into force on 11 December 2001, and currently has 68 parties. The UNFSA aims to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, and includes general principles for their conservation and management and provisions on, inter alia: application of the precautionary approach; compatibility of conservation and management measures; cooperation for conservation and management; Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs); collection and provision of information and cooperation in scientific research; non-members of RFMOs; duties of, and compliance and enforcement by, flag states; international, subregional and regional cooperation in enforcement; procedures for boarding and inspection; measures taken by port states; special requirements and forms of cooperation with developing countries; and dispute settlement. The Agreement establishes a set of rights and obligations for states to conserve and manage the two types of fish stocks as well as associated and dependent species, and to protect the marine environment.

An associated Assistance Fund under Part VII of the Agreement (the Assistance Fund) was established by the UN General Assembly in 2003 to assist developing states parties in UNFSA implementation. Following General Assembly resolution 56/13, informal consultations of states parties (ICSP) have been held at UN headquarters in New York every year since 2002 to consider the regional, subregional and global implementation of the Agreement and prepare for the 2006 Review Conference.

ICSP-1: At its first meeting (30-31 July 2002), the ICSP discussed the review of UNFSA implementation by parties and through RFMOs, implementation of Part VII (Requirements of Developing States), including the establishment of a programme of assistance for developing countries, changes in requested information and status of the report for parties and non-parties, and the future of the General Assembly resolutions on fisheries-related issues, among other things. ICSP-1 agreed on a series of recommendations on the implementation of Part VII.

ICSP-2: At its second meeting (23-25 July 2003), the ICSP focused on the impact of UNFSA implementation on related or proposed instruments throughout the UN system, establishment of the Assistance Fund under Part VII and preparations of its draft terms of reference, facilitation of the involvement of international financial institutions in UNFSA implementation, and consideration of Part II (Conservation and Management of Fish Stocks).

ICSP-3: At its third meeting (8-9 July 2004), the ICSP discussed new developments in UNFSA implementation by parties, including: the strengthening of flag state duties; implementation at the regional level, including the establishment of new RFMOs; updates on states’ initiatives at the global level; review of implementation of Part VII provisions, including contributions to the Assistance Fund; and preparatory work for the Review Conference.

ICSP-4: At its fourth meeting (31 May-3 June 2005), the ICSP focused on the institutional, procedural and substantive issues related to the preparation for the Review Conference, also based on the Chair’s background papers on possible criteria for assessing the UNFSA’s effectiveness and possible initiatives for strengthening the substance and implementation of the Agreement’s provisions. Participants discussed a timeline and programme of work for the preparation of the Review Conference, a draft agenda for the preparatory meeting and a set of recommendations to the General Assembly related to the preparatory work and the convening of the Review Conference and its preparatory meeting.

ICSP-5: At its fifth meeting (20-24 March 2006), the ICSP served as a preparatory meeting for the Review Conference. In a preliminary exchange of views on the UN Secretary-General’s report (A/CONF.210/2006/1), participants stressed the need for: broader ratification of and accession to the Agreement, in particular by key fishing states; priority action on the degradation of vulnerable marine ecosystems; the creation of new RFMOs; and the strengthening of cooperation and coordination between and among RFMOs. Participants discussed recommendations for consideration by the Review Conference, in particular on draft rules of procedure on voting, composition of the bureau and of the drafting committee, modalities for the participation of non-parties in the Conference and the extent to which they would be able to participate in the decision-making process, the Conference outputs, and possible future actions such as future review conferences and formalized meetings of parties. ICSP-5 outcomes included a provisional agenda and organization of work for the Review Conference, provisional rules of procedure, and elements for assessing the adequacy and effectiveness of the Agreement.

UNFSA REVIEW CONFERENCE: The Review Conference of the Agreement was held from 22-26 May 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Called for by UNFSA Article 36 and General Assembly resolution 59/25 of 17 November 2004, the Review Conference was mandated to assess the adequacy of the Agreement’s provisions for securing the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and, if necessary, to propose means of strengthening the substance and methods of implementation of its provisions to better address any continuing problems in the conservation and management of the two types of stocks.

The Review Conference recommended, inter alia: a commitment to integrate ecosystem considerations in fisheries management; the urgent reduction of the world’s fishing capacity to levels commensurate with the sustainability of fish stocks; urgent strengthening of RFMO mandates to implement modern approaches to fisheries; urgent RFMO performance reviews; a commitment to develop a legally binding instrument on minimum standards for port state measures and a comprehensive global register of fishing vessels; expanded assistance to developing countries; and continuation of a dialogue to address concerns raised by non-parties.

ICSP-6: The sixth round of the ICSP (23-24 April 2007) convened under General Assembly resolution 61/105 of 8 December 2006. Participants reviewed national, regional and international activities undertaken to implement the Agreement. Substantial discussion was dedicated to the proposed criteria to review the performance of RFMOs and the control, monitoring and surveillance of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. On the follow-up to the Review Conference, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported the activities of the Assistance Fund and participants considered and agreed on two tentative dates, 2010 and 2012, for the resumed Review Conference. A side event convened in the margins of the informal consultations to consider the criteria for RFMO performance review made progress in drafting the review criteria and agreed to forward these criteria to tuna RFMOs for further consideration, and other RFMOs for information.


Václav Mikulka, Director of the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS), opened the seventh round of Informal Consultations of the State Parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (ICSP-7) on Tuesday, 11 March 2008. He said ICSP-7 is convened to consider the implementation of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) at regional, subregional and global levels taking into consideration the Review Conference to strengthen implementation of the Agreement, and to make appropriate recommendations to the UN General Assembly.

Ambassador David Balton (US) was then elected as Chair by acclamation. Chair Balton welcomed Romania and the Republic of Korea as new parties to the Agreement, noting that the total number of parties presently is 68. He underlined achievements over the past year, including RFMOs’ initiatives to strengthen their mandates, their increasing engagement in performance reviews, and efforts to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. On the global level, he outlined recent meetings on assessing the performance of flag states, addressing port state control measures, and developing technical guidelines for the management of deep sea fisheries in the high seas.

Chair Balton introduced the provisional agenda, which was adopted without amendments. On the organization of work, Chair Balton then noted the need to consider the revision to the Terms of Reference of the Assistance Fund which has been put forward by UNDOALOS and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Review Report from ICSP-6 (A/CONF.210/2006/16) and report of the UN General Assembly at its 62nd session on sustainable fisheries relating to the UNFSA (A/62/l.24) were circulated but not discussed during the consultations.


PROPOSED MEANS OF STRENGTHENING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT: Discussions on this agenda item took place on Tuesday, 11 March, with some contributions being made on Wednesday, 12 March. In addition, participants discussed the revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Assistance Fund on Wednesday morning.

National Implementation: Many participants highlighted national-level initiatives to implement the UNFSA. The Republic of Korea expressed its commitment to the precautionary and ecosystem approaches, and stressed balancing sustainable use with conservation and management. Canada outlined the dimensions used when assessing the comprehensiveness of its implementation of the UNFSA. Japan elaborated revisions to its Comprehensive Oceans Policy Basic Law that now, inter alia, addresses IUU fishing. The US cited the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, which, inter alia, sets a deadline to end overfishing. Highlighting its activities regarding various UNFSA provisions, Mexico stressed the possibility of being UNFSA compliant without being a party. Noting that the Agreement is a viable legal framework for ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks, Iran outlined national efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries. He favored addressing the special needs of developing countries, not only concerning conservation measures, but in the exploitation of marine resources.

Regional Implementation: On behalf of the Pacific Island States, Tonga reported on the activities of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). She drew attention to the October 2007 Communique from the Thirty-eighth Pacific Islands Forum, which calls for a long-term strategic approach to fisheries management. Norway reported that the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission’s (NEAFC) measures for port state control in the Barents Sea, which came into force in May 2007, have had positive effects on IUU fishing. New Zealand noted the current negotiations on an agreement to create a RFMO in the South Pacific.

The European Community (EC) called for cooperation among RFMOs and with regional seas conventions. Citing WCPFC’s decision to deny some countries membership, she said it is critical that RFMOs are open to all states with a “real interest” in the trade, conservation and utilization of fisheries resources. In response, Iceland said interest in fishing a fully exploited stock does not constitute an interest, emphasizing that an interest arises due to a country’s fishing experience or if it is a fishing country. Canada noted the need to expand the view on regional approaches by including regional plans of action and regionally-based capacity building occurring outside the RFMOs. France advocated harmonization of measures among RFMOs. The EC proposed intensifying the management regimes for sharks in RFMOs.

Global Implementation: Mexico favored cooperation between UNFSA and other international instruments to assure long-term conservation of several fisheries resources. The EC underlined the need for global coverage of RFMOs, expressing concern about the lack of progress in signing and ratifying the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement. IUCN - The World Conservation Union called for addressing provisions in the Agreement to assess the impact of fishing on target stocks, and advocated a broader, more integrated approach to oceans fisheries management. The Marshall Islands expressed concern that the Agreement was falling short of successful implementation. Congo said that the rights and duties of states included in UNFSA and UNCLOS constitute customary law and are therefore binding on parties and non-parties.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing: Japan supported developing a flexible legally binding framework for port state measures that provides for regional and port variations, and said port, flag or market state issues are related and should be addressed jointly. Brazil said IUU fishing can be solved if flag states fully discharge their obligations on vessel controls. The EC said transhipments of IUU catch is a major problem. France noted that coastal states benefit from transhipments in ports. Mexico said as long as significant quantities of IUU products remain in the market, IUU fishing is unlikely to stop, although modalities and operations may change. Norway stressed that IUU fishing is a major threat to biodiversity. Iceland said controlling IUU fishing is difficult unless RFMOs can agree on a single stock, and drew attention to institutionalized over fishing and free riding. The Marshall Islands called for an international dialogue to expand the responsibility of addressing IUU fishing.

Bycatch: The US called for an enhanced understanding of the ecosystem approach, suggesting that RFMOs should adopt binding measures to decrease bycatch. The Marshall Islands noted the negative impact of bycatch on small island developing states (SIDS). Australia proposed specifying a total allowable catch threshold, noting that minimum standards do not offer adequate controls and surveillance.

Credibility of RFMOs: Citing the lessons learned from tuna management, Canada called for a regime shift in RFMOs to address management gaps identified by the Review Conference and for a recovery plan for fisheries, and said overcapacity constrains RFMO collaboration. Japan said overcapacity can be addressed by implementing the FAO International Plan of Action (IPOA) for the Management of Fishing Capacity. Norway said RFMOs are key to the successful implementation of the Agreement, and with New Zealand, emphasized the need to strengthen their credibility.

RFMO Performance Reviews: Japan urged flexibility in the application of the performance review criteria, citing regional and port variations, and noted that some flag states may be unable to implement them. Australia stressed enhancing RFMO performance to deliver more sustainable outcomes. The EU supported transparency and peer-review in areas not covered by RFMOs. The US welcomed the RFMOs’ review processes, emphasizing the importance to implement the review outcomes. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) outlined experiences from its review process, especially recommendations on IUU fishing and achieving harmonization of several activities.

Information and Capacity Building: Japan noted the repeated references to capacity building and proposed examining measures to turn these commitments into actions. The US said inaccurate data hampers the work of RFMOs, with ICCAT highlighting the establishment of a capacity-building fund aimed at improving data collection.

Assistance Fund: On Tuesday morning, David Doulman, FAO, circulated and presented the “Financial Report as at 31 December 2007 on the Assistance Fund under Part VII of UNFSA.” He said the Fund was established in 2003 to assist developing states parties to implement the Agreement and that it has been managed in accordance with the Terms of Reference and FAO’s Financial Regulations. Expressing concern about the expected expenditures in 2008, he encouraged additional contributions to the Fund.

The US proposed that the meeting consider how to better use the funds for capacity-building efforts. New Zealand and Japan noted the need to discuss better utilization of the Assistance Fund.

On Wednesday morning, participants considered the proposed revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Assistance Funds submitted jointly by the FAO and UNDOALOS, as contained in a four-page document circulated at the consultations.

FAO outlined the four proposed revisions to clarify the existing practice of submitting applications for funding, the FAO’s specific scope in approving travel grant applications, procedures for re-assigning approved financial assistance to other purposes, and the reporting obligations of recipients. He said the revisions seek to minimize administrative costs and promote an efficient and transparent operation of the Fund.

Discussion focused on clarifying language on the submission of applications, including travel-related expenses and communication from national authorities. Participants expressed different views regarding deadlines for reporting, with some suggesting a fixed deadline for submitting reports and others favoring a more flexible approach. Participants agreed on language stating that reports should be submitted “promptly.” ICCAT shared its experience with the use of extra budgetary funding for meetings and training workshops, and inquired if RFMOs can apply for travel funds for members that are UNFSA parties. Chair Balton and FAO affirmed this possibility, adding that RFMOs are already being funded this way.

In concluding, Chair Balton summarized the progress being made at the regional level, noted ambitious efforts under way at the national level, and stated that concerns remained on how to advance UNFSA implementation.

PROMOTING A WIDER PARTICIPATION IN THE AGREEMENT: Participants discussed this item on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. Introducing the agenda item on promoting a wider participation in the Agreement, Chair Balton noted that discussion points may include addressing the pace of ratification, the interaction between parties and non-parties, and constraints to becoming parties.

Citing the increased number of parties to the UNFSA since the 2006 Review Conference, Canada underscored the resilience of the UNFSA. Norway underlined that the UNFSA is relevant to all fishing nations, not only those fishing on the high seas. She drew attention to an informal Norwegian paper that lists the nine RFMOs relevant to the UNFSA, and notes that the role of RFMOs was considerably strengthened after the adoption of the UNFSA. The paper also states that most RFMOs have used the Agreement as a basis for conservation and management issues. Drawing on this paper, Norway emphasized the clear link between membership in various RFMOs and acceptance of the Agreement, and suggested reaching out to the members of RFMOs that are non-parties to the Agreement. The EC and Canada suggested making Norway’s paper more transparent by further specifying the UNFSA non-parties that are members of RFMOs. On Wednesday, Norway welcomed a chart further developed by UNDOALOS that lists the 47 countries that are RFMO members but non-parties to the UNFSA, and suggested utilizing this chart to encourage non-parties to join the Agreement.

Australia emphasized the importance of increasing the number of parties to the Agreement, noting that there are benefits to joining.

Japan said that because the UNFSA is a normative framework, non-parties are concerned about its tangible benefits, while emphasizing the immediate benefits of becoming members of RFMOs. He also stressed the need for dialogue with non-parties to identify their interests and impediments to becoming parties. The US referred to the impediments to ratification raised in the “Annex on the outcome of the Review Conference on UNFSA in 2006” (A/CONF.210/2006/15), and possible solutions provided therein. Canada outlined possible impediments to joining the Agreement, including lack of capacity, policy and political differences, noting the need to clearly understand these differences. On capacity building, she said it is important to identify the priorities for assistance, and provide clear and transparent information on sources of funding. Reiterating the emphasis on capacity building, Brazil said few developing countries are parties to the UNFSA and underscored the need to promote enhanced and sustainable participation of these countries. Canada also suggested that political partnerships could be useful for creating momentum and commitment. Chair Balton stressed the variety of capacity-building initiatives that exist beyond Article VII (Assistance Fund).

The EC expressed surprise at non-parties’ willingness to be UNFSA compliant, but not parties. She suggested holding a dialogue session before the resumed Review Conference that draws on experience and expert and legal advice to debunk these constraints, but emphasized that re-negotiating the Agreement was not an option. Guatemala proposed convening a meeting, where technical and legal support are provided, to continue the dialogue. New Zealand expressed support for a meeting to better understand the impediments and promote dialogue. Noting that serious dialogue is needed, Ghana proposed an outreach programme to shed light on relevant facts and enable the participation of all stakeholders.

To increase participation, Brazil emphasized building capacity for developing countries in enforcement, the application of conservation measures, and the sustainable management of stocks. Mexico proposed that resources and support be made available to develop fisheries in developing countries, not only to ensure compliance with the Agreement.

Emphasizing that the format of the informal consultations is “in the hands” of its participants, Canada called for an enriched discussion that makes the exchange of challenges and ideas integral to the consultations. Welcoming a dialogue on promoting wider participation, Mexico advocated inviting non-parties and RFMOs, underlining the importance of benefiting from the latter’s experiences.

On Wednesday, Sierra Leone noted that in past consultations, non-parties had expressed concerns about UNFSA provisions on subregional and regional enforcement and the related procedures for boarding and inspection, emphasizing that these had not been discussed so far. In response, Chair Balton recalled Tuesday’s deliberations on these issues, highlighting progress in the development of proposals to implement these provisions, including alternative mechanisms for compliance and enforcement in the high seas developed by RFMOs, and proposals to hold expert meetings to obtain legal advice on these concerns.

Trinidad and Tobago expressed disappointment about the slow pace of implementation of the provisions on the special requirements for developing countries, noting that this, in part, has contributed to the Caribbean Community’s failure to ratify the UNFSA. The Republic of Korea inquired about the specific capacity-building needs of developing countries to promote UNFSA ratification. Germany recalled that a lot of support for related activities is provided bilaterally.

The EC stressed the importance of having a separate meeting between parties and non-parties, where in-depth discussions on the impediments could take place without time constraints, suggesting that the outcomes would then be brought to the attention of the ICSP. New Zealand favored adding an extra day at ICSP-8 to hold expanded discussions, to hear reports from the upcoming meetings, noting that these contributions could be used in the preparatory work for the resumed Review Conference. Iceland, supported by some participants, proposed organizing a side event on promoting wider participation in the Agreement for the next ICSP, which would include academia. The US suggested a four-day ICSP-8 with presentations from experts and panels to further discuss the issues, while Japan, supported by Brazil, suggested making the event the main focus of ICSP-8. Marshall Islands emphasized the need for funding to build the capacity of developing country participation in the discussions. Brazil observed that the proposal is consistent with the views of non-parties made at the Review Conference.

The EC proposed a specific structure for ICSP-8, suggesting that the meeting focus on the impediments raised in the 2006 Review Conference on boarding and inspection issues, the compatibility of conservation and management measures in the Exclusive Economic Zone and the high seas, and capacity building. She also emphasized the important role of RFMOs, experts and developing nations.

Canada supported the proposed outline, and called on FAO to further clarify its expenditures for capacity building during the resumed Review Conference, and for relevant bilateral and multilateral donors to provide information on their areas of financing in relation to the UNFSA.

Final Agreement: Summarizing the discussion, Chair Balton proposed, and participants agreed, that he would prepare a Chair’s summary reflecting these deliberations, with a recommendation from ICSP-7 participants to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to resume this discussion at ICSP-8. Participants agreed to discuss the Chair’s draft recommendation on this item during consideration of the agenda item on recommendations to the UNGA.


On Wednesday afternoon, Chair Balton introduced the agenda item on resuming the Review Conference, recalling that the 2006 Review Conference was temporarily suspended to be resumed in 2011 at the latest, noting that the UNFSA only provides for a single review conference. Chair Balton then invited participants to share ideas on dates and venues for the resumed Review Conference.

Many participants suggested that the Review Conference resume in 2010, continuing on a four-year cycle. Canada drew attention to benchmarks deadlines, including the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation timeframe and, together with the US, noted that it would be useful to have the Review Conference before the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting in 2011. Iceland suggested that ICSP-8 focus on preparing for the Review Conference, in addition to convening the dialogue on promoting wider participation. Mexico, Egypt, Venezuela and Guatemala said the resumed Review Conference should be guided by UNFSA provisions on the participation of parties and non-parties.

Other participants favored holding the Review Conference in 2011, with Brazil, supported by Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, and Iran, noting the need for the outcomes of the dialogue to “mature.” Cautioning against a periodic, routine exercise with a fixed format, the EC stressed the need for thorough preparations before the Review Conference, favoring a conference with a set of prioritized issues. Japan expressed concern about deciding on a permanent four-year cycle, with Chair Balton responding that discussions should only focus on the resumption of the Review Conference.

The Republic of Korea sought clarification on the purpose of the Review Conference and Japan highlighted the separate functions of the Informal Consultations as a topic-oriented meeting, and the Review Conference as an opportunity to assess overall progress. India underlined that the resumed Review Conference is the final obligation of the parties according to provisions in the Agreement.

Summing up the discussion, Chair Balton noted unanimity on convening the resumed Review Conference at UN headquarters in New York, promoting wide attendance, and the importance of careful planning. He further noted that different views had been voiced concerning the date of the Conference, emphasizing that a majority of participants had expressed a preference for 2010. Chair Balton suggested, and participants agreed, that the Conference be held in 2010 and that it is preceded by preparatory work carried out during ICSP-8, and at a preparatory meeting to be held earlier in 2010. 


Turning to the agenda item on the consideration of the next round of the ICSP on Wednesday afternoon, Chair Balton reiterated that ICSP-8 would focus on continuing and deepening the dialogue on wider participation in the Agreement and dedicating time to prepare for the resumed Review Conference, suggesting that at least four days are needed.

The EC and the US suggested undertaking consultations in the near future to discuss the format of ICSP-8, and Japan proposed allowing for some flexibility to discuss other matters.


On Wednesday afternoon, Chair Balton introduced the agenda item on the consideration of recommendations to be submitted to the General Assembly. Canada outlined its proposal on recommendations based on the discussions held at ICSP-7, in addition to language on, inter alia, performance reviews of RFMOs; monitoring, control and surveillance; capacity building; ICSP-8; and the resumption of the Review Conference.

Noting that the Canadian paper was a very useful basis for future discussions, many participants expressed concern about agreeing on substantive language without consulting their respective capitals, noting that they needed more time to consider the proposals. The US and Norway supported using the proposals regarding ICSP-8 and the Review Conference, noting that these were based on agreed language. Japan suggested attaching the Canadian paper to the Chair’s summary, while making clear that it does not reflect the views of ICSP-7. Canada expressed regret that the paper had not been circulated earlier in the day.

Chair Balton thanked Canada for its effort to reflect the issues discussed and others that will inform the negotiations on sustainable fisheries at UNGA-63, and noted that participants had not agreed to submit any recommendations..

Final Agreement: Regarding the Chair’s summary, participants accepted Chair Balton’s suggestion to include three proposals:

ICSP-8 should be convened in 2009 to include a dialogue promoting wider participation in UNFSA, starting the preparatory work for the Review Conference, and discussing other matters, as appropriate;

the resumed Review Conference should be held at UN headquarters in New York in 2010; and

the Canadian paper should be attached to the Chair’s summary, underlining that this paper had not been approved by ICSP-7, but could be used as a basis for further deliberations.


On Wednesday afternoon, Chair Balton thanked the participants for their hard work and for contributing to a dynamic and useful discussion, and closed the meeting at 6:00 pm.


At the conclusion of the two-day Informal Consultations on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA), many participants expressed satisfaction with the unprecedented level of engagement on how to broaden the participation in the Agreement of developing countries and non-parties. Participants also began to concretize their plans for the resumed Review Conference for 2010. As these two issues are expected to constitute the main agenda items of the proposed eighth round of the Informal Consultations (ICSP-8) in 2009, the main accomplishment of ICSP-7 was laying the groundwork for a successful ICSP-8. This brief analysis explores the strength of this foundation by highlighting the key achievements of the Consultations and the emergent fault-lines that not only pose a threat to the successful conclusion of ICSP-8, but that may perennially haunt the UNFSA.


Although there are now 68 parties to UNFSA, increasing the number of parties remains a major preoccupation, as many countries that have an interest in the Agreement – by virtue of possessing either a coastal zone traversed by fish from the high seas or vessels that fish in the high seas – have yet to ratify the Agreement. In particular, the willingness of some non-parties to comply with the Agreement but reluctance to accede has remained a puzzle. While the 2006 Review Conference considered and outlined the key obstacles to participation and took a decision to pursue dialogue on the issue, many participants observed that ICSP-7 was the first time serious consideration was given to this matter and commitments made to truly address these constraints. Participants were gratified by the decision to make this subject one of the two key themes at ICSP-8 in 2009, to convene a longer ICSP-8 in order to dedicate substantial time to this dialogue, and to draw legal and policy expertise from academia, international organizations and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).

Two challenges, however, need to be addressed if ICSP-8 is to have the intended impact of increasing the number of parties, especially those with an interest. First, participants, particularly from developing countries, emphasized that outreach should be conducted in a timely manner at the appropriate level. Many developing country participants suggested that the UNFSA has legal implications that demand a high level of specialization in its interpretation in order to be accessible to politicians. It was proposed that this could be addressed through targeted outreach activities. Further, the importance of encouraging decision-makers from capitals to participate in the ICSP-8 dialogue session was stressed.

The second challenge concerns how to organize a meaningful ICSP-8 dialogue given the diverse nature of constraints identified, which include: conservation and management measures that may affect parties’ sovereign rights over living resources in their Exclusive Economic Zones; sovereignty of vessels on the high seas and related issues, that make boarding and inspection by other parties unacceptable; a seeming lack of interest in addressing the concerns of coastal developing countries, in particular building their capacity to exploit their fish stocks, whereas emphasis is given to the provisions on enforcement; claims that UNFSA provisions on conservation are outdated, and in some cases below national standards; and domestic political and legal issues such as the governing regime’s ideology or procedural requirements for ratification.

Delving into these constraints exposed two kinds of tensions that parties will confront in future efforts to mobilize new parties. First, while non-parties are keen to push for the amendment of UNFSA provisions, especially with respect to compatibility measures on conservation and management, parties categorically stated that revising the Agreement is non-negotiable. Spurred by recent ratifications of the UNFSA by Japan and the Republic of Korea and the willingness of non-parties to comply with UNFSA, some parties expressed hope that by biding their time while continuing the dialogue, non-parties would, in time, warm up to the idea of ratifying the Agreement. The question is how long they can wait, given the current rate of fish stocks depletion. Observers argued that RFMOs, especially in the Pacific region, are ahead of the UNFSA in finding ways to deal with the problem of compatibility measures, and could provide useful advice by sharing their experiences. The second tension has to do with the sovereign rights of states to develop their fishing capability. Suggestions to build the capacity of developing countries as an incentive for them to ratify the UNFSA has been tempered by the prospect that enabling non-fishing countries to become major fishing countries may be counter-productive because it could increase competition over a diminishing resource. Although participants identified a variety of alternative areas to build such capacity, the challenge is whether these incentives will be sufficient to persuade reluctant developing country non-parties to accede.


At the time of its adoption, the UNFSA only envisioned having one Review Conference. To facilitate further review sessions, the 2006 Review Conference was “suspended.” This enabled ICSP-7 to take a decision to resume the Review Conference in 2010 and, accordingly, to make ICSP-8 the preparatory conference.

Although some participants pressed for 2011, arguing that more time is needed for preparations, opponents said the time constraint is not an issue this time around. Granted that the rules of procedure that dominated discussions during the Review Conference’s preparatory process are now in place, they asserted that the 2006 Review Conference also provides a model that could guide the preparations, and that the issues identified during negotiations of the UNFSA and by the Review Conference provides a sufficient scope of work.

Nevertheless, some cautioned that experience at ICSP-7 suggests that the rules of procedure are far from resolved, citing the continuous need to clarify the extent of non-party involvement in decision-making. Moreover, some participants expressed their frustration with the ICSP-7’s failure to come up with recommendations to the 63rd session of the UNGA. Participants had to settle for the submission to the UNGA of a Chair’s summary containing the recommendations agreed during the discussions of the different agenda items, and annexed thereto, Canada’s paper containing recommendations to UNGA-63 on new parties to UNFSA, RFMOs, capacity building, monitoring, control and surveillance, ICSP-8, and the resumed Review Conference and its resumption, which were circulated too late for adequate consideration. Despite reaching consensus on the conduct of ICSP-8 and the road to the resumed Review Conference, some were concerned that without the recommendations, the proposals in the Chair’s summary remain open for reconsideration at UNGA-63. Thus, participants left contented with their work, but apprehensive about the future.


FAO EXPERTS MEETING ON FLAG STATE RESPONSIBILITIES: This meeting will be held from 25-28 March 2008, in Vancouver, Canada. The meeting will be attended by a group of invited experts to identify actions to be taken to improve flag state performance. For more information, contact: Lori Ridgeway or Angela Bexten, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; tel: +1-613-993-1914; fax: +1-613-990-9574; e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]; internet:

ICCAT MEETING OF MANAGERS AND STAKEHOLDERS OF ATLANTIC BLUEFIN FISHING (MSAB): This meeting will be held from 26-27 March 2008, in Tokyo, Japan. For more information, contact: Pilar Pallarés, ICCAT; tel: +34-91-416-5600; fax: +34-91-415-2612; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

CLIMATE CHANGE AND FISHERIES AND AQUATIC CULTURE: This Expert Meeting will be held from 7-9 April 2008, in Rome, Italy. Participants will review the impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture, examine options for climate change mitigation, initiate discussion on how the fishing industry can adapt to climate change, and devise appropriate strategies for informing fishers and policy-makers about the likely consequences of climate change for fisheries. For more information, contact: Nadia Scialabba; tel: +39-6-57051; fax: +39-6-570-53064; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

4TH GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON OCEANS, COASTS, AND ISLANDS: This conference will be held from 7-11 April 2008, in Hanoi, Vietnam. The theme will be “Advancing ecosystem management and integrated coastal and ocean management by 2010 in the context of climate change.” For more information, contact: Miriam Balgos, Global Forum Secretariat; tel: +1-302-831-8086; fax: +1-302-831-3668; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

WORLD SYMPOSIUM FOR THE STUDY INTO THE STOCK FLUCTUATION OF NORTHERN BLUEFIN TUNAS (THUNNUS THYNNUS AND THUNNUS ORIENTALIS), INCLUDING THE HISTORIC PERIODS: This symposium will take place from 22-24 April 2008, in Santander, Spain. The symposium will explore causes for the drastic decline in Bluefin tuna catches and for the collapse of fisheries in historic periods with a view to halt current decline in the species. For more information, contact: Pilar Pallarés or José Cort, ICCAT; tel: +34-91-416-5600; fax: +34-91-415-2612; e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]; internet:

INTERGOVERNMENTAL MEETING ON THE MANAGEMENT OF HIGH SEAS BOTTOM FISHERIES IN THE NORTH WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN: The second meeting of this new RFMO will take place from 14-16 May 2008, in Vladivostock, Russia. The scientific Working Group meeting will take place from 12-13 May 2008. For more information, contact: Miho Wazawa; tel: +81-3-3502-8111 (ext 6747); fax: +81-3-3502-0571; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

AD HOC OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL WORKING GROUP TO STUDY ISSUES RELATING TO THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF MARINE BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY BEYOND AREAS OF NATIONAL JURISDICTION: The second meeting of this working group will take place from 28 April - 2 May 2008, in accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 62/215 adopted on 22 December 2007. For more information, contact: Director, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea; tel: +1-212-963-3962; fax: +1-212-963-5847; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

FORUM FISHERIES COMMITTEE MINISTERIAL MEETING: This meeting will take place from 19-20 May 2008, in Palau following the 67th official session of the Forum Fisheries Committee from 12-16 May 2008. For more information, contact: Jean-Paul Gaudechoux; tel: +687-262-000 or +687-260-169; fax: +687-263-818; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

59TH TUNA CONFERENCE: This conference will take place on 19-22 May 2008, in Lake Arrowhead, California, USA. It will consider progress in research on various marine species, including tuna. For more information, contact: Anne Allen; tel: +1-858-546-7128; fax: +1-858-546-5656; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

ECOWAS REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON TREATY LAW AND PRACTICE: This workshop is tentatively scheduled for June 2008 in Accra, Ghana. The workshop will focus on the implementation of treaty obligations with a focus on human rights, transnational organized crimes, trade and environment. The environment component will focus on the UN Convention on Non-navigable Uses of International Watercourses and the UNFSA. For more information, contact: Ebenezer Appreku; tel: +1-646-712-1884 (mobile); fax: +1-212-751-6743; e-mail: [email protected]; or contact: Sherry Holbrook; tel: +1-917-528-2000; fax: +1-212-963-3693; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

FAO COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES (COFI): The 11th session of the Sub-committee on Fish Trade will take place from 2-6 June 2008, in Bremen, Germany. For more information, contact: William Emerson; tel: +39-6-570-57051; fax: +39-6-570-53152; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

HIGH-LEVEL CONFERENCE: The FAO will host a High-Level Conference on World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy from 3-5 June 2008 in Rome, Italy. For more information, contact: Nadia Scialabba; tel: +39-6-570-57051; fax: +39-6-53064; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

12TH SESSION OF THE INDIAN OCEAN TUNA COMMISSION: This session of the Commission will take place from 7-11 June 2008, in Muscat, Oman. Among the issues to be considered is the future relationship between the IOTC and FAO. For more information, contact: IOTC Secretariat; tel: +248-225-494; fax: +248-224-364; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

18TH MEETING OF STATES PARTIES TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA: This meeting will be take place from 13-20 June 2008, at UN headquarters in New York. For more information, contact: Secretary of the Meeting of States Parties; tel: +1-212-963-3972; fax: +1-212-963-5847; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

FAO TECHNICAL CONSULTATION ON IUU: The Technical Consultation to draft a legally binding instrument on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is scheduled to take place from 23-27 June 2008 in Rome, Italy. For more information, contact: David Doulman, FAO; tel: +39-6-570-56752; fax: +39-6-570-56500; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

60TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION: This meeting of the Commission will be held from 23-27 June 2008, in Santiago, Chile. Associated meetings of the Scientific Committee and Commission sub-groups are scheduled for 1-22 June 2008. For more information, contact: IWC Secretariat; tel: +44-1223-233-971; fax: +44-1223-232-876; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

NINTH MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL CONSULTATIVE PROCESS ON OCEANS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA: This meeting is scheduled for 23-27 June 2008, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting will focus on “Maritime security and safety.” For more information, contact: Secretary of the Consultative Process; tel: +1-212-963-3969; fax: +1-212-963-5847; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON COPING WITH GLOBAL CHANGE IN MARINE SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS: This symposium will take place from 8-11 July 2008, in Rome, Italy. For more information, contact: Kevern Cochrane, FAO Senior Fisheries Officer; tel: +39-6-570-56109; fax: +39-6-570-53020; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

ASIA-PACIFIC FISHERY COMMISSION (APFIC) CONSULTATIVE FORUM MEETING: This meeting on “Adapting to emerging challenges - promoting effective arrangements for managing fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific Region” will take place from 6-9 August 2008, in Manado, Indonesia. The Consultative Forum Meeting provides an opportunity to agree on actions needed to adapt to the emerging challenges to fisheries and aquaculture in the region. For more information, contact: Secretary APFIC Secretary; tel: +66-2-697-4149; fax: +66-2-697-445; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

THE SECOND GLOBAL FISHERIES ENFORCEMENT TRAINING WORKSHOP: This workshop will be held from 7-11 August 2008, in Trondheim, Norway. The workshop will present traditional and innovative approaches on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance. For more information, contact: Organizing Committee or Directorate of Fisheries; tel: +47-800-30-179; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

ASIA-PACIFIC FISHERY COMMISSION: The 30th session of the Fishery Commission will take place from 11-13 August 2008, in Manado, Indonesia. This by invitation only formal session will deliberate on a range of current and emerging fisheries issues relevant to the Asia-Pacific Region. For more information, contact: Secretary APFIC; tel: +66-2-697-4149; fax: +66-2-697-445; e-mail: [email protected]; internet: and

NORTHWEST ATLANTIC FISHERIES ORGANIZATION (NAFO): The annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization will take place from 22-26 September 2008, in Vigo, Spain. For more information, contact: Barbara Marshall; tel: +1-902-468-5590; fax: +1-902-468-5538; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

2008 MEETING OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH AND STATISTICS (SCRS): This meeting of the ICCAT will be held from 29 September to 3 October 2008 in Madrid, Spain. For more information, contact: Pilar Pallarés; tel: +34-91-416-5600; fax: +34-91-415-2612; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

63RD SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The 63rd session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold Informal Consultations on the draft resolutions on “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” tentatively from 29 September to 3 October 2008, and 17-21 November, and on sustainable fisheries, including the UNFSA and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, tentatively on 17-19 September and 10-14 November 2008. For more information, contact: Director, UNDOALOS; tel: +1-212-963-3962; fax: +1-212-963-5847; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:  

ANNUAL MEETINGS OF THE SOUTH EAST ATLANTIC FISHERIES ORGANIZATION (SEAFO): The 4th annual meeting of the Scientific Committee of SEAFO will take place from 2-3 October 2008, followed by the 5th annual meeting of the Commission on 6-9 October 2008, in Windhoek, Namibia. For more information, contact: Executive Secretary; tel: +264-64-220-387; fax: +264-64-220-389; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

15TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE CCSBT COMMISSION: This session of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, also incorporating the Extended Commission, will take place from 14-17 October 2008, in Auckland, New Zealand. For more information, contact: Executive Secretary; tel: +61-2-6282-8396; fax: +61-2-6282-8407; email: [email protected]; internet:

27TH MEETING OF THE COMMISSION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF ANTARCTIC MARINE LIVING RESOURCES (CCAMLR): The regular meeting of the Commission will take place from 27 October to 7 November 2008, at CCAMLR Headquarters in Hobart, Australia. For more information, contact: CCAMLR Secretariat; tel: +61-3-6210-1111; fax: +61-3-6224-8744; email: [email protected]; internet:

ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NORTH EAST ATLANTIC FISHERIES COMMISSION (NEAFC): The contracting parties of the NEAFC will meet for their annual meeting from 10-14 November 2008, in London, UK. For more information, contact: NEAFC Secretariat; +44-20-7631-0016; fax: +44-20-7636-9225; email: [email protected]; internet:

ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NORTH PACIFIC ANADROMOUS FISH COMMISSION (NPAFC): This meeting will take place from 17-21 November 2008, in Seattle, Washington, USA. The objective of the meeting is to promote the conservation of anadromous fish stocks in its region, including various kinds of salmon. For more information, contact: Wakako Morris; tel: +1-604-775-5550; fax: +1-604-775-5577; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

16TH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE ICCAT COMMISSION: The Special Session is scheduled to take place from 17-24 November 2008, at a venue yet to be determined. For more information, contact: Pilar Pallarés, ICCAT; tel: +34-91-416-5600; fax: +34-91-415-2612; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

NPAFC INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE BERING-ALEUTIAN SALMON INTERNATIONAL SURVEYS (BASIS): This Symposium is scheduled for 23-25 November 2008, in Seattle, Washington, USA, and is conceptualized under the theme of “Climate Change, Production Trends, and Carrying Capacity of Pacific Salmon in the Bering Sea and Adjacent Waters.” The meeting will summarize BASIS research conducted from 2002-2006, and expects to increase knowledge about the effects of climate change on salmon growth and survival in the North Pacific Ocean. For more information, contact: NFAPC Secretariat; tel: +1-604-775-5550; fax: +1-604-775-5577; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

WESTERN AND CENTRAL PACIFIC FISHERIES COMMISSION SESSION: The 5th regular session of the Commission is provisionally set to take place from 8-12 December 2008, in Busan, Republic of Korea. The meetings of its Northern, Scientific, and Technical and Compliance Committees will take place prior to the session. For more information, contact: Lucille Martinez; tel: +691-320-1992 or +691-320-1993; fax: +691-320-1108; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

UNFSA REVIEW CONFERENCE: The UN Fish Stocks Agreement Review Conference is expected to resume in 2010. The eighth round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the UNFSA will convene in 2009. The dates will be determined by the UN General Assembly. For more information, contact: UNDOALOS; tel: +1-212-963-3962; fax: +1-212-963-5847; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

Further information