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One of the most contentious issues was the extent of flag State jurisdiction, as opposed to that of coastal States, port States and regional organizations. Some delegates pointed out that UNCLOS enshrines the principle that flag States have sole jurisdiction over their vessels on the high seas. Others argued that if flag State jurisdiction is not implemented, the whole issue of enforcement will be in doubt. It was therefore suggested that some measure be applied for carrying out enforcement where the flag State is unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction over vessels flying its flag, as is the case for many open registries.

Norway said there is a need for the establishment of cooperation mechanisms as part of regional fishing arrangements or agreements to complement the responsibility of flag States. There may be some instances where, due to deficiencies, such mechanisms cannot be properly operated. In such instances, we need to incorporate rules to allow for coastal State enforcement. The EC disagreed. The basic principle is and should be that of flag State responsibility, whether or not the State is a contracting party. Australia said that regional agreements on enforcement should supplement flag State jurisdiction. Argentina added that all measures should be based on the consent of the flag States and their consent is necessary for enforcement cases.