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UN DOALOS UN Fish Stocks Agreement Review Conference
UN Headquarters, New York | 22-26 May 2006
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Fish Stocks Agreement Review Conference Opens

The Review Conference of the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UN 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) opened on Monday, 22 May 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Participants addressed organizational matters in the morning and undertook the review of the Agreement's provisions on conservation and management throughout the day.

Monday, 22 May
Opening of the Conference

Vladimir Golitsyn, Director of the UN Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS), opened the meeting.

Lori Ridgeway, Canada, introduced the nomination of Amb. David Balton, US, as President of the Conference, which participants approved by acclamation.

President Balton noted the powerful role of the Agreement in influencing fisheries management since its entry into force, and pointed out the need to improve the status of the resources.
Opening of the Conference

Liu Zheng, China, expressed concern about joining consensus on the provisional rules, suggesting that they remain provisional and decisions for matters of substance be made by consensus.

Mario Aguilar, Mexico, asserted that parties and non-parties should participate on a full and equal footing.

Louis Simard, Canada, noted that agreement on the provisional rules had been achieved at ICSP-5, and preferred to work toward general agreement.

Serge Beslier, European Community, called for strengthening regional approaches to collective fisheries management and broadening the coverage of RFMOs.

Famoudou Magassouba, Guinea, emphasized the need to increase the membership of the Agreement.

Papua New Guinea, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, stressed improving implementation, increasing participation, addressing IUU fishing, and providing development assistance.

Joji Morishita, Japan, reported on progress in the national process to join UNFSA, and informed participants of a joint meeting of tuna RFMOs in early 2007 in Japan.

E. Jinadasa, Sri Lanka, prioritized addressing IUU fishing.

Narmoko Prasmadji, Indonesia, suggested the Review Conference formulate incentives for non-parties to join UNFSA, rather than developing further obligations that may prevent them from joining.

Stuart Beck, Palau called for interim measures to prohibit unregulated bottom trawling, modeled after the General Assembly resolution 44/225 on driftnet fishing.

Carlos Duarte, Brazil, supported a full bottom trawling moratorium in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Hosung Lee, Republic of Korea, noted ongoing discussions on a possible new RFMO to manage high seas bottom trawling and related marine biodiversity issues in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

William Hogarth, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, highlighted challenges in data collection and reporting and in implementing science-based management programmes.

Vaughn Charles, Saint Lucia, called for additional assistance in implementing the Agreement.

Javier Garat Pérez, International Coalition of Fisheries Associations, expressed support for governments' actions on IUU fishing and development of new RFMOs and other arrangements to fill gaps in oceans management.

Alistair Graham, WWF, called for interim arrangements on destructive fishing practices and true commitment to implementing the ecosystem approach.

Andrew Wright, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission reported on regional initiatives in implementation of the agreement, highlighting concerns over continuing capacity increases and scientific data gaps.

Feleti Teo, Pacific Islands Forum, underlined the importance of the effective participation of small island developing States in the implementation of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean Fish Stocks Convention.

Nigel Fyfe, New Zealand, called for including the extent of application of best scientific evidence available and the precautionary approach in performance assessments of RFMOs and States.

James Larsen, Australia, lamented RFMOs' lack of focus on stocks other than target stocks and on by-catch, and advocated consistency and complementarity of measures across the RFMO network.

IUCN called for extending coverage of measures to those stocks not currently covered, taking measures to eliminate destructive fishing practices, including high seas bottom trawling, and abolishing provisions allowing states to opt out of management measures.

Lisa Speer, Natural Resources Defense Council, called for the development of terms of reference for a regular, transparent assessment of RFMOs and their effectiveness in implementing the terms of the Agreement.

Duncan Currie, Greenpeace, opposed the proposal to develop FAO guidelines for the management of high seas discrete stocks, preferring to bring all high seas stocks within the scope of UNFSA.

William Gibbons-Fly, US, proposed that management organizations develop plans to reduce fishing capacity to bring it into line with fisheries resource availability, by 2012 for straddling stocks, and by 2007 for highly migratory stocks.
Drafting Committee

During an evening drafting session, chaired by Fernando Curcio, Spain, delegates considered language underlining the broad recognition of UNFSA as the main guiding legal instrument for the conservation and management of the two kinds of fish stocks and as a positive tool for RFMOs to develop new strategies. They also debated whether to include reference to discrete stocks and to the need to generally apply the precautionary approach. Discussions continued into the night.

Related Links

ENB coverage of the 1995 Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Stocks.
UN Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS).
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) - Chapter 17.