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Sweden's proposal, A/CONF.164/L.39, received little visible attention during the second substantive session despite its circulation during the early stages of the first week. The proposal's preambular elements recognize UNCLOS as the legal framework for the management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks; the strength of the flagging agreement; the applicable guidelines anticipated in the International Code of Conduct on Responsible Fishing; and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, which establishes some of the basic pre-requisites for this Conference, but notes that the CSD is the organ entrusted with the task of following up the implementation of UNCED.

The Swedish proposal acknowledges that this Conference does not have a mandate to establish a legally-binding instrument. It notes that the Conference is locked into legalistic interpretations carrying forward antagonistic positions on fundamental issues of coastal States rights versus distant water fishing States rights in enjoying freedom of fishing on the high seas. The proposal says it is incorrect to maintain that freedom of the high seas is a complete freedom entailing no responsibility by underscoring that the utilization of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks can never be in the interest of a single State. Utilization without resource management could result in a situation where the rights of other States would be infringed. Conservation and management of these fish stocks must be compatible with the concept of sustainable development, with cooperative management being undertaken regionally and based on ecological principles.

The Swedish text argues for linkage into the CSD and takes discussion of the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks beyond the entrenched legalistic arguments currently dictating the slow progress of the Conference. While some delegates have indicated that Sweden has adopted a high moral ground, look for support to this proposal in the intersessional period and further discussion on the creation of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for negotiation of a legally binding international instrument, possibly a convention. [Return to start of article]