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The Chair reflected on the question of form at the end of the first week of this session. He said that informal consultations with delegates remained incomplete and would continue, as some delegations feel that the development of content and form should proceed together.

Australia made a general statement on behalf of the 16 member States of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (SPFFA) on the form of the Conference's final outcome. Members of the SPFFA remain united in their resolve to achieve a strong and substantial outcome from the Conference and feel that substantial progress had been made towards reaching agreement on problems that seemed unresolvable 12 months ago; however, it is necessary to reach a consensus on the form. A legally-binding outcome must contain four essential elements: international standards to achieve the long-term sustainability of the stocks; consistency with UNCLOS preserving the rights of coastal States, while maintaining flexibility to allow cooperation and conservation between coastal States and distant water fishing States; strong, detailed and meaningful provisions relating to flag State responsibility and effective mechanisms for compliance and enforcement and; agreement on the timely collection and exchange of data. The SPFFA member States do not have the human or financial resources to engage in protracted negotiation and he urged all delegations, especially distant water fishing States, to work to finalize a legally-binding agreement as soon as possible.

Canada welcomed the Australian statement. The delegate from India said he was prepared to support a convention, provided that arrangements could be found to accommodate exploitation of high seas fish stocks by developing States. The Japanese delegate said his position remained unchanged because consensus had not been reached on the form. The EU delegate expressed sympathy with the SPFFA, but said that consensus on the substance is required or the form will not be secured.

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