ENB:07:43 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

CLOSING PLENARY SESSION

The Chair said that although the review of the Draft Agreement took longer than anticipated, discussions were constructive and considerable progress was made as demonstrated in the final text, A/CONF.164/22/Rev.1. Nandan reminded delegates that the General Assembly mandate in Resolution 47/192 was based on the decision of the heads of Government at UNCED and reflected the concern of the international community regarding the status of world fisheries. In Agenda 21, the problems were identified as: inadequate management of fisheries; over-utilization of some stocks; over-capitalization; excessive fleet size; vessel reflagging to escape controls; insufficient selection of gear; unreliable databases, and lack of sufficient cooperation among States. Recent FAO reports have indicated that the trend of unsustainable exploitation of fish stocks continues, and it is necessary for States to implement effective conservation and management measures. The Chair stated that the Conference must deliver an outcome to achieve this goal for SFS and HMFS based on: compatible measures in both areas under national jurisdiction and on the high seas; the use of the precautionary approach, including the use of reference points; and requirements relating to data collection. He said sustainable use of these resources is the common responsibility of all who are the present-day custodians.

Nandan said that although the Draft Agreement contained in document A/CONF.164/22/Rev.1 takes a balanced approach to the needs of both the coastal States and flag States, the collective interests of the international community must also be considered to secure sustainable use of the resources. He said the text creates three essential pillars: the principles and practices on which better management of fish stocks in areas of national jurisdiction and the high seas should be based; the need to ensure that the measures adopted are adhered to, complied with, and not undermined by those fishing in those areas; and the peaceful settlement of disputes based on the provisions of UNCLOS. Nandan said that broad agreement already exists on most of these provisions.

The Chair asked delegates to study the text with an open mind. It was impossible to include every suggestion in the text, but all views were taken into account when the text was formulated. He appealed to the delegates to evaluate the text in terms of what the Conference as a whole can live with, and pointed out that there would be the opportunity to raise essential issues in the next session. He stated that the schedule for the final session would be very tight, as technical issues relating to the finalization of the text and draft final Act of the conference must be examined, and he encouraged delegates to undertake informal consultations in the intersessional period.

Brazil said that there must be voluntary acceptance by flag States of compliance with boarding and inspection on the high seas. He said flag States should not have as much interest in areas outside their jurisdictions, but reasonable rights of fishing should not be denied. Transparency and compliance must be ensured. Peru noted some unacceptable substantive changes in the text and said his suggested change to Article 6, paragraph (5), regarding emergency measures compatible with measures in coastal State jurisdiction, was not included. In Articles 21, 22 and 25, references to the rights of coastal and port States have been deleted. Peru could not accept a continuous call by fishing States for balance in the text that is not reflected in UNCLOS. Estonia said that he could not support the idea of an "enclave". Norway stated that it was particularly important to seek effective rules for enforcement. Chile said that conservation measures in the area of the high seas adjacent to the EEZ cannot be less stringent than those measures applied by the coastal States in the EEZ. The precautionary approach is the basic guideline. The US emphasized his belief that the conference should negotiate a binding agreement with the objective of sustainable use of SFS and HMFS achieved through strong and compatible conservation and management measures. Such measures must include the precautionary approach, applied throughout the entire range of the stocks, based on adequate data collection and sharing arrangements. The EU said that it would move into the future with an open mind and constructive spirit. The key work that delegates will undertake involves cooperation. Cooperation, inter alia, implies the non-discriminatory opening of regional organizations. Japan said that the most difficult question is that of enforcement. He was opposed to the introduction of uniform joint-enforcement schemes, from which each and every organization must borrow. Indonesia said that he was worried because not only high seas resources are in danger, but so also are resources in the EEZs of developing States. China said that basic consultations on Articles 14 and 21 have not been completed, and the Chair should thus bracket these Articles. He said that the Chair's text could be taken as the basis for future for negotiations. Australia, speaking on behalf of the SPFFA, stated that he was particularly pleased that there is good language in the Chair's text on strong global standards for flag State control and data collection and sharing. He also stated that enforcement is central. Argentina said that he preferred the previous text of Article 8, paragraph (3), that reflected the balance between the open nature of any international organization or arrangement and respect for its internal rules. Poland said that he was ready to conduct bilateral negotiations aimed at a mutually satisfactory solution related to conservation and management measures and the sustainable use of stocks. The Russian Federation said that in Articles 13 and 14, it was essential to have special rules taking into account the geographical particularities of enclaves. Uruguay said that to achieve the goal of the Conference, delegates must approve effective conservation and management measures for the stocks involved in the framework of UNCLOS.

Korea agreed that States have a responsibility to ensure that marine resources remain available for present and future generations. Canada said the efforts of the Chair had succeeded in devising solutions to overcome common problems. The text of Article 21 does not ignore the rights of flag States, and he understood why some countries were unable to move in the direction of breaking new ground in international law. Iceland endorsed earlier concerns regarding the removal of Article 10, paragraph (2), and said delegates should take due notice of the headline in the NGO bulletin ECO, which says "Wake Up or Ocean Degradation Will Continue". Senegal said his country would need to find ways of implementing the principles contained in the Draft Agreement.

Morocco spoke in support of the balance maintained in the revised text and urged for consensus to prevail in order to serve the interests of present and future generations. Sri Lanka said he hoped consensus would prevail. Mexico said it is the responsibility of each State to ensure that conservation and management measures are applied throughout the regional and subregional organizations and arrangements. Greenpeace International said she remained skeptical about governments translating words into action and said Greenpeace would continue to promote public awareness of the need for a treaty and urged for continuance of NGO participation. The Chair responded by saying he hoped Greenpeace would invite delegates to its meetings.

WWF said the most visible issue before the Conference is that of excess fishing capacity, and that this must be addressed in future negotiations.

[Return to start of article]