The United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks

This page last updated on 13 December 1995 -- Comments to kimo@iisd.org


SIGNING CEREMONY IN NEW YORK

The resumed sixth session of the United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks was convened on 4 December 1995 at UN Headquarters in New York for the signing the Final Act of the Conference and the opening for signature of the Conference’s outcome: the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10th December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS

Following the debate, delegates considered the three draft resolutions before the Assembly. Under Agenda Item 96(c), the draft resolution contained in document A/50/L.35 addresses the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10th December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. The resolution emphasizes the importance of early entry into force and effective implementation of the Agreement, and calls upon all States and all entities entitled to become parties to sign and ratify or accede to the Agreement and consider applying it provisionally. It requests the Secretary-General to report to the 51st session of the General Assembly on developments relating to the conservation and management of SFS and HMS, and to ensure that reporting on all major fishing activities and instruments is effectively coordinated and duplication of activities and reporting minimized.

The draft resolution was co-sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the US and Uruguay.

Two other resolutions were also adopted. The first (A/50/L.34) deals with implementation of UNCLOS and was adopted by a vote of 132 in favor to 1 against (Turkey), with 3 abstentions (Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela). Turkey stated its opposition to the draft resolution pertaining to UNCLOS, because it contains no provision recognizing special geographic situations and no reservation clauses.

The resolution emphasizes the universal character of UNCLOS and its fundamental importance for the maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security, as well as for the sustainable use and development of the seas and oceans and their resources. The resolution calls upon all States that have not done so to become parties to UNCLOS and to harmonize their national legislation with its provisions and ensure its consistent application. It also requests the Secretary-General to convene three meetings of States Parties to UNCLOS during 1996 for the purpose of organizing the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and to report to the 51st session of the General Assembly on the implementation of the resolution in connection with the annual report on the Law of the Sea.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belize, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine, the UK, the US and Uruguay.

The other resolution (A/50/L.36) addresses large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in areas under national jurisdiction, and fisheries bycatch and discards. The resolution recognizes that efforts have been made to reduce bycatch and discards in fishing operations and that further work needs to be done in this area. It expresses concern about the detrimental impact of unauthorized fishing on sustainable development of the world’s fisheries resources and on the food security and economies of many States, particularly developing States. It acknowledges the measures taken by the international community to implement and support the objectives of resolution 46/215 on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, but expressed deep concern regarding continuing reports of activities inconsistent with the terms of that resolution. The resolution calls upon States to take measures to ensure that no fishing vessels entitled to fly their national flags fish in areas under national jurisdiction of States unless duly authorized by competent authorities of the coastal State or States concerned.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Belize, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Grenada, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, New Zealand, Peru, Samoa, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, the US and Uruguay.

FAO CODE OF CONDUCT FOR RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES

Delegates from 70 countries, various international organizations and NGOs attended the second session of the Technical Committee on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 25-29 September 1995.

The Code of Conduct derived its beginnings from instructions of the FAO governing bodies. The Code has been formulated to be consistent with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It takes into account: the 1992 Declaration of Cancun; the 1992 Rio Declaration and the provisions of Agenda 21 of UNCED; the conclusions and recommendations of the 1992 FAO Technical Consultation on High Seas Fishing; the strategy endorsed by the 1984 FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development, and other relevant instruments. The Code also takes into account the outcome of the UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

Although application of the Code is voluntary, certain parts of it are based on relevant rules of international law. In this regard, certain provisions of the Code have been given binding effect by other obligatory legal instruments among Parties, such as the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas. The Flagging Agreement, according to FAO Conference resolution 15/93, forms an integral part of the Code.

The Code of Conduct contains 12 articles. Article 1 deals with the nature and scope of the Code. The Code is global in scope and is directed towards members and non-members of the FAO, fishing entities, governmental and non-governmental organizations and all persons concerned with the conservation, management and development of fisheries, especially fishworkers and those engaged in the processing and marketing of fish and fishery products.

Article 2 deals with the objectives of the Code and covers matters relating to the relevant rules of international law, the contribution of fisheries to food security, the protection of living aquatic resources and their environments and coastal areas.

Article 3 deals with the Code’s relationship with other international instruments and how the Code is to be interpreted and applied. Article 4 deals with implementation, monitoring and updating of the Code. The FAO, through its competent bodies, may revise the Code, taking into account developments in fisheries. States and international organizations are urged to promote the understanding of the Code, which would promote its voluntary acceptance and effective application.

Article 5 provides for the special requirements of developing countries, especially in areas of financial and technical assistance and technology transfer. Article 6 covers the general principles of the Code, underscoring that the right to fish carries with it the obligation to do so in a responsible manner. States are to promote the prevention of overfishing and reduction of excess fishing capacity.

Article 7 deals with fisheries management and gives focus to management objectives, data gathering and the application of the precautionary approach. Article 8 deals with fishing operations. The duties of flag States and port States are covered in this article, which also deals with harbors and landing places for fishing vessels, protection of the environment, the abandonment of structures and artificial reefs.

Article 9 deals with aquaculture development and covers aspects of responsible development under national jurisdiction and within transboundary aquatic ecosystems as well as the uses of aquatic genetic resources. Article 10 deals with the integration of fisheries into coastal area management and covers institutional frameworks, policy measures, regional cooperation and the implementation of coastal area management.

Article 11 covers post-harvest practices and trade and deals specifically with responsible fish utilization, responsible international trade and laws and regulations relating to fish trade. Article 12 deals with fisheries research and requires States to recognize that responsible fisheries requires the availability of a sound scientific basis to assist fisheries management and other interested parties in making decisions.

The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries was adopted by the 28th session of the FAO Conference.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN 1996

MEETINGS OF STATES PARTIES TO UNCLOS: The first meeting of the Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea will take place in New York from 4-8 March. Parties will consider and adopt the draft initial budget of the Tribunal. The next meeting of the Parties, which will take place in New York from 29 April - 10 May 1996, will deal with organizational matters of the Tribunal and election of the members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The Parties will elect the judges of the Tribunal when they meet in New York from 29 July - 2 August 1996.

INTERNATIONAL SEABED AUTHORITY: The Assembly will meet in Kingston, Jamaica, from 11-22 March 1996 and again from 5-16 August 1996.

Most Recent Negotiation

The final session of the Straddling Fish Stocks and the Highly Migratory Fish Stocks Conference finished on Friday, 4 August 1995. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin has published a summary of this meeting, which is also available in Portable Document Format (PDF) and in ASCII.

The Secretariat for the Conference has released the final text of the agreement in English, French and Spanish.

During the course of this two week session we published daily issues from the Conference (with special funding assistance from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry):

Background Information

The United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks was convened to solve problems related to the harvesting of these stocks on the high seas. This Conference was convened by a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 22 December 1992 (47/192). An organizational session was held at UN headquarters in New York where Satya Nandan (Fiji), a veteran of the Law of the Sea negotiations, was elected Chair of the Conference. Three substantive sessions of the Conference have been held so far:

The first substantive session was held in New York from 12-30 July 1993;

The second substantive session was held in New York from 14-31 March 1994;

The third session was convened from 15-26 August 1994, also at UN headquarters in New York.

The fourth session was held in New York from 27 March to 12 April

At the end of the third session, the Chair of the Conference tabled a 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, contained in document A/CONF.164/22 .



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