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The Chair opened the closing Plenary of the Conference, saying that this session had been short but productive. He was encouraged by the dedicated and constructive approach with which all delegations worked towards the goal set for the Conference -- to find practical and effective means to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.

In accordance with its mandate, during its first substantive session the Conference identified the issues it was to address. At its second and third sessions, the Conference considered the substantive responses to the problems relating to conservation and management of the two types of fish stocks. During this session, while continuing to address the substantive matters, the Conference reached a stage where form and substance had to be brought together. This was an important and necessary step if progress was to be made on a number of key issues that could not otherwise be addressed in an acceptable manner.

Based on the discussions and proposals made in the Plenary during the review of A/CONF.164/13/Rev.1, the Chair's Revised Negotiating Text ("RNT") during the first week of this session, and on the basis of his informal exchanges with many delegations, and building on the intersessional consultations that he attended, the Chair revised and reformatted the RNT.

The new form of this text is contained in document A/CONF.164/22 and is entitled the "Draft Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks" (the "Draft Agreement"). He said that this new form is based on his sense that there is a widespread and substantial view in the Conference that a legally-binding outcome is essential to achieve the goal of effective conservation and management of the two types of fish stocks. He stated that with further work to improve and develop its content, the Draft Agreement would respond to the concerns of the international community as expressed in the Rio Declaration and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, as well as the resolutions of the General Assembly concerning the problems relating to the conservation and management of the world's fisheries.

The Draft Agreement responds to these concerns in the following manner: (1) it establishes detailed minimum international standards for the conservation and management of the two types of stocks; (2) it ensures that the measures taken for the conservation and management of those resources in areas under national jurisdiction and in the adjacent high seas areas are compatible and coherent; (3) it ensures that there are effective mechanisms for compliance and enforcement of those measures on the high seas; (4) it provides for a globally-agreed framework for regional cooperation in the field of fisheries conservation and management consistent with the situation prevailing in each region, as envisaged in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; (5) it recognizes the special requirements of developing States in relation to conservation and management as well as development of and participation in fisheries for the two types of stocks; and (6) it provides for the peaceful settlement of disputes relating to fisheries matters through compulsory and binding dispute settlement mechanisms, which also ensure flexibility for the parties to use the procedure of their choice for the settlement of such disputes.

He said that while there is no consensus at this time on the question of form of the outcome of this Conference, he is encouraged that the Conference has decided to use the Draft Agreement as a basis for its future work.

In looking ahead at the programme of work, he said that the Bureau has concluded that two further sessions of the Conference are necessary in 1995 in order to conclude its work. The first session should be devoted to the consideration of the substantive matters before the Conference, with a view to concluding negotiations at the end of that session, and last for three weeks.

The second two-week meeting should be the final session of the Conference. The first week will be devoted to the concordance and harmonization of the text in all languages with a view to arriving at a final text. The second week will be devoted to the consideration of the Final Act of the Conference and the preparation of the authentic text of the Agreement so that the Final Act and the Agreement can be adopted at the end of that week.

The Secretariat advised the Chair that conference servicing facilities are available at UN Headquarters in New York for the two sessions from 27 March to 12 April 1995 for the first session, and 24 July to 4 August 1995 for the second session. This is based on the determination that the Conference must conclude its work as soon as possible and no later than 1995.

The Chair encouraged delegations to undertake intersessional consultations in order to facilitate negotiations and help achieve agreement at the next session of the Conference. He said he will continue to liaise and consult with delegations, as appropriate, over the coming months. In order to maintain transparency and flow of information to all delegations and observers, he will report to the Conference at the next session on any developments resulting from such intersessional consultations. After closing statements by a number of delegatons, Nandan gavelled the session to a close.

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