Briefing Note on the Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea
(ICP-15)
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SUMMARY OF THE FIFTEENTH MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL CONSULTATIVE PROCESS ON OCEANS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA
27-30 MAY 2014

The fifteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process or ICP-15) convened from 27-30 May 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting brought together representatives of 80 governments, 15 intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to examine this year’s topic: the role of seafood in global food security.

On Tuesday, there was a general exchange of views in plenary, followed by two segments of a panel discussion on “Understanding global food security and the current role of seafood therein” and “The role of seafood in global food security in the context of the three pillars of sustainable development.” On Wednesday the segment on “The role of seafood in global food security in the context of the three pillars of sustainable development” continued, and was followed by a segment on “Opportunities for, and challenges to, the future role of seafood in global food security.” On Thursday, delegates convened in plenary to discuss the following: inter-agency cooperation and coordination; process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the General Assembly; and issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea. The Co-Chairs, Amb. Don MacKay (New Zealand) and Amb. Milan Jaya Nyamrajsingh Meetarbhan (Mauritius), distributed a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions on Friday morning. After all the paragraphs of the report had been reviewed, Co-Chair MacKay gaveled the meeting to a close at 11:47 am.

This briefing note summarizes the discussions and is organized according to the agenda.

OPENING SESSION

Co-Chair MacKay opened ICP-15 on Tuesday morning, 27 May. Guyan Chandra Acharya, on behalf of the Under Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, welcomed everyone on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He noted the report of the Secretary-General to the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly (A/69/71) on “The Role of Seafood in Global Food Security” and underscored that developing countries require support to achieve food security, especially those in Asia and Africa.

Nikhil Seth, Director of the UN Division for Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), underscored that destructive forms of fishing and unsustainable aquaculture practices can have significant impacts on human health and ecosystems, especially in developing countries. He reported that there is work underway in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) in relation to fish stocks and voiced support for the initiative as part of a “common responsibility to promote resilient oceans and food security for the benefit of current and future generations.” He concluded by urging delegates to look forward to the forthcoming 3rd UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to be held on 1-4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.

Stephen Mathias, Assistant Secretary-General of Legal Affairs spoke on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, commended the ICP for providing an open and transparent process for the provision of advice to the UN General Assembly on issues relating to oceans and the law of the sea. He noted the importance of seafood to global food security and to the livelihoods of tens of millions of people, including women, but underscored the pressures the sector faces from ecosystem degradation and unsustainable fishing practices. He recalled the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report “State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture” that states that 30% of fish stocks are unsustainable and that coastal areas and coral reefs are the most affected by these stresses. He concluded by suggesting that ICP-15 is an opportunity for the international community to optimize seafood for food security.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS

Co-Chair MacKay stated that video recordings from the session would be available on the internet after the meeting, thus making the proceedings more widely available: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/consultative_process/consultative_process.htm.

He introduced four relevant documents, namely: the annual report of the Secretary-General on oceans and the law of the sea (A/69/71); the annotated provisional agenda (A/AC.259/L.15); an FAO report entitled “State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture”; and a report by the High Level Panel of Experts of Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security entitled “The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition.” The annotated provisional agenda was adopted without amendment.

GENERAL EXCHANGE OF VIEWS

Many delegates congratulated the Co-Chairs on their reappointment, thanked Norway for suggesting this year’s topic, and offered gratitude to the Secretary-General for the report relevant to the role of seafood in global food security.

Bolivia, on behalf of Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), underscored that The Future We Want affirms the importance of food security, as part of the right to be free from hunger, but stressed that nutrition is an important element of “hunger” and that seafood is especially important in this regard. She stated that local populations in developing countries are suffering because seafood is being exported, and this dynamic is being exacerbated where states have signed access agreements with nations with larger fishing fleets. To ensure greater equity, she argued, developing countries require capacity building and technology transfer in relation to aquaculture and marine science.

Marshall Islands, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, stated that fish should not be seen as the “last untaken treasure.” He stated that in many island economies, the seafood sector is the main pathway to development, and in this sense, fisheries and well-being are “one and the same.” Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is the major challenge in the Pacific region. To combat this he called for the active collaboration of the wider UN to forge global sustainable fisheries based on “comprehensive progress, not fragmentary action.”

The European Union (EU) stated that fish are a critical element of our daily nutritional needs, yet the pressures on fisheries have led to 30% of them becoming overexploited, including by IUU fishing, and exacerbated by climate change. As a result, she stressed, the resilience of ecosystems needs to be restored by introducing good governance and appropriate management practices, which are based on best available science and the precautionary principle. She noted that this approach, as part of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, has led to an improvement in EU fish stocks. She concluded by welcoming the outcomes of the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth (22-25 April 2014, The Hague, the Netherlands).

South Africa stressed that the loss of reliable sources of fish would deprive many vulnerable people of an important food source. Major threats include overfishing, harmful subsidies and climate change. He called for capacity building that increases the linkages between northern and southern institutions such as regional fisheries management organizations, which should include exchange postings, technology transfer and the establishment of national and regional centers. He concluded that, in this way, the oceans could be managed “for all mankind, rich and poor.”

Japan underscored that in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) states should assume their responsibilities for optimal science-based costal management. Beyond that, developed counties have a role to play in supporting capacity building and technology transfer to promote the sustainable use of marine resources, marine-friendly aquaculture and the development of inland fisheries.

Jamaica noted the growing concern about the Caribbean’s fish stocks. She called attention to the threats to fisheries that include pollution, ocean acidification, invasive alien species, harmful subsidies and IUU fishing. She underscored that IUU fishing severely undermines Jamaica’s domestic efforts to sustainably manage its fish stocks, and impacts local employment and earnings. She called for resources and capacity to address IUU fishing.

India underscored the importance of the ICP, and noted that this year’s topic is timely because marine resources are the “foundation for sustainable development.” He argued that marine living resources are critical but threatened by IUU and unsustainable aquaculture practices. He noted that unselective trawling and deep-sea fishing are the major reasons for the unsustainability of global fisheries, yet local communities are most likely to be affected. He called for an integrated approach, with capacity building on marine science, appropriate technology and improvements in governance.

Monaco drew attention to the “continent” of plastic floating in the Atlantic Ocean, which illustrates the impoverishment of the marine biota. He highlighted the great increase in blooms of jellyfish that are both a result of and a net contributor to diminishing fish stocks. He also drew attention to the highly migratory species that remain unprotected, such as toothed whales that are critically dependent on international cooperation, as mentioned in Articles 65 and 120 in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and called for this legal gap to be addressed.

Iceland noted that the timing of this meeting is opportune as it precedes the next meeting of the OWG, which now has a strong focus on IUU fishing, pollution, harmful subsidies, habitat destruction and ocean acidification. She called for a “focused agenda on what would make a difference and what would work.” She noted that is it now 20 years since the entry into force of UNCLOS and that two issues now require attention, namely, capacity building and the difference between the potential and actual performance of the sector.

Papua New Guinea, on behalf of the Pacific SIDS, underscored the importance of fisheries being addressed by the OWG, especially with regard to enhancing local employment opportunities and enhancing the status of women in developing counties. He said that healthy, productive and resilient ecosystems should be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

Trinidad and Tobago highlighted its work on a national food production action plan, the development of aquaculture, and legal reform to bring national legislation up to international standards.

Canada stated that sustainable fisheries and aquaculture require the engagement of a wide variety of stakeholders. She highlighted international processes and legal frameworks and initiatives to combat IUU fishing, and reduce by-catch and discards. She suggested that the ICP is well placed to identify future opportunities.

Norway stressed that seafood is an affordable source of protein, but that the industry must adhere to ecologically sound practices and extract the maximum catch without damaging the sustainability of the stocks. She suggested a focus on addressing IUU fishing and discards would be important steps towards sustainability.

Mexico stated that it has four specific marine areas along its coasts, and that its seas are comparable to “continental diversity.” He noted that to protect these areas will require culturally appropriate and holistic approaches based on science and traditional knowledge. He also called for the elimination of harmful subsidies and other trade barriers.

China stated that it has, over the last decade, made a significant effort to promote sustainable fishing practices but also acknowledged that many challenges remain. He stated that China expects to share lessons and supports the international community’s focus on capacity building and technology transfer.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted that through its programmes it is helping to secure the ecological and social foundations of sustainable fisheries, among others, with the FAO and Norway.

Ocean Care strongly recommended that the international community, including the UN General Assembly and the FAO, give due consideration to ocean noise pollution and its documented negative effect on the welfare of marine fisheries and, consequently, on food security.

DISCUSSION PANELS

On Tuesday afternoon and all day on Wednesday, delegates heard presentations during three panel discussions on: understanding global food security and the current role of seafood therein; the role of seafood in global food security in the context of the three pillars of sustainable development; and opportunities for, and challenges to, the future role of seafood in global food security.

Understanding global food security and the current role of seafood therein: On Tuesday afternoon, Gro-Ingunn Hemre, National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), Norway, presented on the role of seafood in global food security. She underscored the nutritional value of fish, which are important sources of iodine, zinc, vitamin A, iron, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous, and an essential fatty acid known by its acronym “EPA DHA.” She noted that marine pelagic fish are particularly healthy, are “rich nutrient packages,” and have much to contribute to addressing micronutrient deficiencies.

Moses Amos, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, presented on issues and challenges for the Pacific and global food security in coastal fisheries of the region. He argued that national governments should establish national food security policies to enhance the contribution of oceanic fisheries to poverty mitigation, employment, food security, and national government revenue by: ensuring that fisheries are exploited to a level where the productivity is sustainable; increasing access to seafood by coastal communities; using more oceanic fish for domestic consumption to compensate the declining food resources from coastal fisheries; and using best available science for sustainable management of the oceanic fisheries resources.

Christophe Béné, Research Fellow, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team, Institute of Development Studies, UK, presented on a report by the High Level Panel of Experts of Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security entitled “The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition.” He pointed out that while fishing, aquaculture and related activities provide income and livelihoods to more than 660 million people, the demand by wealthier populations challenges fisheries’ sustainability and their contribution to food security. He underscored that this raises questions relating to the ability of fish value chains, on the one hand, to maintain the right to food of fishing communities and, on the other hand, ensure that fish is available for all. He concluded by saying that the report indicates that future increases in demand for fish will have to be met by aquaculture expansion, which is the world’s most efficient way of producing animal protein.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Australia, Canada, EU, New Zealand, Norway, UK, International Coalition of Fisheries Associations, IUCN, and Co-Chairs MacKay and Meetarbhan. Issues discussed included: trade in sea cucumbers; comparisons between the nutritional value of wild versus farmed fish and marine versus freshwater fish; small scale aquaculture; whether “tomorrow’s sustainability is being compromised by today’s food security”; the recommended intake of fish; whether more small pelagic fish should be consumed by humans as opposed to being made into fishmeal; the potential negative impacts of fish aggregating devices; contaminants in fish; and alternatives to fish that provide the same kinds of nutrients.

The role of seafood in global food security in the context of the three pillars of sustainable development: On Tuesday afternoon, Brian Crawford, Interim Director, Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, US, presented on small-scale fisheries and food security. He underscored the high nutritional value of small pelagic fish, but warned that many fish stocks are facing overfishing and are damaged by harmful subsidies, poor governance and IUU fishing. It is estimated, for example, that Senegal lost US$292 million in 2011 from IUU fishing. Notwithstanding this fact, he noted that small pelagic fish stocks could recover quickly under particular conditions. He stated that women can play a central role in sustainable fisheries and gave the example of the TRY Oyster Women’s Association in The Gambia. Looking ahead, he suggested there is a need to: focus management on low cost, high nutritional value small pelagic fish; empower fishers via ecosystem-scaled co-management and use rights; improve value and supply chains for local fish products; reduce IUU fishing; and transform subsidies to positive incentives and investments.

Geoffrey Shaw, Representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), presented on the implications for global food security by planetary change and seafood safety. He explained that a range of environmental factors is affecting seafood safety, including pollution, marine toxins, climate change, and ocean acidification. He stated that the IAEA is helping its member states to tackle the problems by providing advanced science and building capacity and a framework of strategic partnerships. Specifically, the IAEA: uses nuclear and isotopic technologies, which have a comparative advantage over other techniques; provides advice on seafood protection, research and development, and building of the analytic capacity of marine labs; and conducts laboratory and field studies such as on pollutant dispersion, behavior in the environment and bioaccumulation. He concluded by calling for: more science in support of decision making; capacity building; transfer of technology; and collaboration and networking of partners at the global, national and local levels.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Canada, El Salvador, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago. Issues discussed included: the contamination of fish, and, in particular, the differences in contaminant levels between pelagic and mesopelagic fish, whether the benefits of eating contaminated fish outweigh the drawbacks, and how fish with high levels of contaminants can be treated; nuclear waste in waters and its effect on fish; government schemes to persuade people to eat more pelagic fish; and use rights as a means to promote local level management decisions.

On Wednesday morning, Paúl Phumpiu, Vice Minister for Fisheries, Ministry of Production, Peru, spoke about the contribution of Peru to food security. He explained that food security is about the availability, sustainability, and access of low-income people to highly nutritious food. He noted that Peru produces one-fifth of the world’s pelagic fish and exports over 50% of its anchovies to developing countries. He described Peru’s “blue governance” related to pelagic fish that constitutes the ecosystem’s sustainability, adaptive institutions, and market organization. Good governance, he said, would unleash “blue capital” while ensuring the resources’ sustainability.

Margaret Nakato, Executive Secretary, World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers, Uganda, presented on the role of small-scale fishing in global food security. She noted that there are two main forms of challenges, namely: historical challenges, such as how to resolve issues faced by small-scale food producing communities that are dependent on natural resources to meet their food and nutrition requirements; and emerging challenges such as how to ensure sustainable food and national security for the growing population. She acknowledged that there is a need to ensure that small-scale fishers and fish communities have the necessary rights to fishery resources and land. In this context, she stressed, rights need to include both use rights and management rights, and fisheries co-management should be promoted to empower small-scale fisheries actors to take part in decision-making affecting their livelihoods. She noted a range of residual issues faced by small-scale fishers, including: a lack of knowledge on laws, and weak and poor management structures; direction of investment in the sector, including a lack of investment in the empowerment of women in the sector and a decline in public investment; and governmental prioritization of other competitive sectors, such as tourism, real estate, and energy. She concluded by stating that the role of seafood in global food security in small-scale fishing communities will largely depend on strong fisher communities, access rights, and secure tenure.

Wan Izatul Asma binti Wan Talaat, Associate Professor, Institute of Oceanography and Environment (INOS), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, presented on the conservation of the marine environment towards the sustainability of marine resources for food security. She explained that INOS focuses on the South China Sea and the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security and has units concentrating on marine endangered species, marine environmental processes and ocean governance. She noted that a major focus of INOS’s work is on coral reef conservation, and includes: mapping the distribution of coral reefs; evaluating strategies to improve coral resilience; and offshore coral farming. She concluded by stating that INOS helps the government of Malaysia create a sustainable marine environment through: scientific-based law and policy reform; the development of an effective governance framework; and regional environmental cooperation.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Canada, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, New Zealand, Senegal, South Africa, International Coalition of Fisheries Associations, and Christophe Béné. Issues discussed included: the importance of mangroves; the role of women in the processing of fish and the need for supportive credit; the OWG and the potential for a stand-alone goal on oceans; short-, medium- and long-term goals for aquaculture in the Victoria Basin; using a greater percentage of anchovies for human consumption instead of being processed to become fishmeal; the food security-related importance of “fish going where the need is as opposed to where the money is”; the role of regional fisheries management organizations; the trophic chain linked to anchovies that include other fish, birds and mammals; the use of technology to monitor fishing fleets; the importance of involving local communities in the governance and management of fisheries; the impacts of climate change; the need for coordinated implementation of laws and policies; and coordination of the management of shared water bodies.

Opportunities for, and challenges to, the future role of seafood in global food security: On Wednesday morning, Rohana Subasinghe, Chief, Aquaculture Branch, FAO, presented the findings of an FAO report entitled “Fish to 2030: Prospects for Fisheries and Aquaculture.” He illustrated that while the number of fish captured plateaued in the 1980s, the number of fish produced by aquaculture has continued to rise steadily. Today, he stated, the top 15 producers of aquaculture-reared fish produce over 90% of the worldwide total and that 50% of all fish consumed today are produced by aquaculture. He explained that meeting the gap between projected production and demand will require improved and better-managed fisheries, sustaining increasing aquaculture growth, and reducing fish waste. He concluded that to do this will require: technology and innovation; investment and finance; improved policy and governance; and enhanced public-private partnerships.

Manuel Barange, Director of Science, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK, presented on the role of the oceans in securing sustainable food for nine billion people. He explained that the current average fish consumption is 19kg per person per year, although great variation exists, and asked whether this could be sustained as population grows. He suggested that meeting current fish consumption rates in the future is potentially feasible, despite growing populations and the impacts of climate change on marine fisheries production, but only under the following conditions: sustainable harvesting and utilization of all available fish products; the aquaculture industry reduces its reliance on wild fish for feed through significant technological development; and there is an effective and equitable trade of seafood between countries who produce significant quantities and those who produce less. He concluded by stating that he believed these reforms were necessary to make “hope possible rather than despair convincing.”

Susan Singh-Renton, Deputy Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, presented on the opportunities and challenges for the future role of seafood in global food security from a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regional perspective. She began by explaining that eating fish is a cultural tradition in the Caribbean and that artisanal and small-scale fisheries provide many people with the major source of their protein. She explained that within CARICOM countries, there is a lack of policy coherence across economic sectors, preventing a holistic approach for achieving food security, which, coupled with low investment, has stifled the advancement of statistics, research, and development for supporting resource management, technological developments and marketing and trade. Other challenges to the marine environment include: marine and terrestrial human activity; invasive alien species; climate change; IUU fishing; oil and gas activities; and land-based pollution. She suggested that the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy is helping to improve the situation and called for: improved investment in all aspects of the industry; implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy; improved governance; and strengthening related education, information and communication.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Norway, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago, Viet Nam, International Ocean Noise Coalition, Co-Chair MacKay, and Christophe Béné. Issues discussed included: the viability of vaccination programmes for aquaculture reared fish; the challenges faced by developing countries to develop offshore aquaculture; ocean acidification; the linkages between ocean noise and reduced fish stocks; and oil and gas exploration and related accidents.

On Wednesday afternoon, Roland Wiefels, Director, Centro para los servicios de información y asesoramiento sobre la comercialización de los productos pesqueros de América Latina (Center for Marketing Information and Advisory Services for Fishery Products in Latin America and the Caribbean), presented on the opportunities for, and challenges to, the future role of seafood in global food security with a focus on post-harvest issues. He explained that the most intense future growth in population will be in Africa, whose population will increase from 1 billion today to 4 billion people in 2100, and stated that that this will create a large demand for seafood. He illustrated that if Africans consume the current average per capita supply of fish in 2050, the market would be worth US$116 billion, but if they eat the expected global average at that time, the market would be worth US$359 billion. In this context, he set out three requirements related to the future role of seafood in global food security, namely the need to: reduce seafood distribution and marketing costs through shorter and more efficient distribution and marketing networks; assure better quality control to growing volumes of seafood along the distribution chain from producers to consumers; and expand and upgrade the seafood distribution and marketing structures according to the rapidly changing market needs. He concluded by saying that seafood will have a growing role in global food security in the future but will require an effort to adapt seafood post-harvest issues to population changes so as to guarantee optimal utilization, effective availability and access to consumers, as well as the stability of supplies.

James Movick, Director General, Forum Fisheries Agency, presented on the opportunities and challenges for SIDS and global seafood security in tuna fisheries of the western tropical Pacific. He explained that the western tropical Pacific fishery is too complex to be addressed through ad hoc and informal measures and instead requires a comprehensive approach based on two platforms, namely: target reference points and harvest control rules; and rights-based management. He suggested that together these measures would deliver sustainable fish stocks that are harvested economically and contribute to long-term global food security. In order to achieve this, he stated, it would be necessary to: empower SIDS; design management measures that support development; and recognize existing rights or allocate rights to developing states.

Nobuyuki Yagi, Associate Professor in Resource Economics and Marine Policy, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, presented on the role of consumers in promoting global food security. He set out four aspects of food security, namely: availability; access; utilization; and stability, which relate to weather, politics, or economic factors. He noted that: current eco-labeling schemes can be effective under certain conditions, but additional considerations are needed for small-scale fisheries in tropical or sub-tropical areas; to do this a new certification criteria to promote habitat conservation would be a good option; appealing to consumers in terms of the cultural value of ocean conservation is a good strategy; and conserving human lifestyles in coastal regions through fair trade approaches may be an option. He concluded by stating that more attention is needed on the conservation of ecosystems services with particular focus on non-fishing threats to marine ecosystems, such as climate change, land-based pollution, or other human activities that influence river and coastal environments.

Janos Pasztor, Acting Executive Director, Conservation, WWF International, began his presentation by providing a series of statistics including: the current value of marine ecosystem goods and services is US$27 trillion; one-third of the global population gets food from the oceans; 50% of humanity lives within 100 kilometers of the sea; at least 660 million people depend on fisheries for income; 87% of assessed fisheries are overexploited, depleted or fully exploited; fishing subsidies are estimated at US$35 billion a year globally and account for 41% of landed catch value; economic losses due to inefficiencies and overfishing in marine fisheries amount to US$50 billion a year; and 85% of high seas catch is taken by developed states, and 25% is taken by five states. He provided an overview of a number of examples of attempts to develop policy coherence and implement integrated management plans, including in: the Coral Triangle where 120 million people rely on the fisheries and that includes many marine protected areas; the development of a local protocol in Mozambique in which local fishers have agreed to limit the time they spend fishing for shrimp; and a project to assist a local community in the Philippines to develop an eco-tourism venture related to whale sharks.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Bahamas, China, Jamaica, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Vietnam, International Coalition of Fisheries Associations, International Ocean Institute, and Christophe Béné. Issues discussed included: marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction; per capita demand for meat and fish; integrated marine and coastal area management; the potential challenges developing countries have with implementing certification schemes; the role of eco-labeling in combatting IUU fishing; monitoring fishing vessels and fleets; the need to optimize the livelihoods of those involved in the industry; subsidies; the potential exclusionary effects of marine protected areas on indigenous peoples and local communities; and the recent sinking of a Vietnamese ship in the South China Sea.

INTER-AGENCY COOPERATION AND COORDINATION

On Thursday morning, Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), UN Office of Legal Affairs, delivered a statement on UN-Oceans on behalf of its members in accordance with General Assembly resolution 68/70. She reported that UN-Oceans held a face-to-face meeting under the revised terms of reference in New York on 5 February 2014. The meeting, chaired by Julian Barbière, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, discussed the implementation of the mandate of UN-Oceans under the revised terms of reference as well as the development of the UN-Oceans’ work programme.

The meeting agreed that it would work on the basis of the biennial work programme (1 January 2014 – 31 December 2015), a document that was provided to all delegates in Annex II of Goettsche-Wanli’s statement. At the meeting it was agreed that UN-Oceans would focus on the development of an inventory that will provide an overview of the mandates and activities of the members of UN-Oceans. It was also agreed to establish two ad hoc coordination teams to facilitate inter-agency information exchange on current and upcoming major events of relevance to many UN-Oceans members. One team, jointly led by DESA and the UN Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and SIDS, will focus on the Third UN Conference on SIDS, and the second team, led by DOALOS, will focus on World Oceans Day.

A second meeting was held on 27 May 2014. At that meeting, chaired by Edgar Cabrera, World Meteorological Organization, the inventory of member organizations’ mandates and activities was discussed and it was decided to further refine the inventory, including with a view to making it more user friendly. The two ad hoc coordination teams reported back, including on the fact that the 2014 SIDS conference theme will be “The sustainable development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships” and the theme for 2014 World Oceans Day will be “Together let’s ensure oceans can sustain us into the future.” 

The EU expressed her appreciation for the report on the work of UN-Oceans under the revised terms of reference and underscored that it is important that UN-Oceans continues to concentrate on ensuring coherence within the UN system on ocean issues in order to prevent duplication of efforts among relevant specialized agencies, programmes, funds and bodies. She stated that she was confident that, under its new terms of reference and with the adoption of the new work programme, UN-Oceans will strengthen coordination and cooperation among competent organizations in conformity with UNCLOS and their respective mandates, and facilitate inter-agency information exchange, including best practices, experiences, tools and methodologies.

Brazil expressed gratitude to Goettsche-Wanli for her role in helping draft the new terms of reference for UN-Oceans and noted his “high hopes” for the future of UN-Oceans. Ecuador thanked Goettsche-Wanli and the Co-Chairs. China stated that UN-Oceans has improved its transparency and hoped this will continue, supported the work programme, and expressed China’s future support. Argentina suggested that the report illustrates the importance of reviewing the work of UN-Oceans, and commended the transparency and new direction.

PROCESS FOR THE SELECTION OF TOPICS AND PANELISTS SO AS TO FACILITATE THE WORK OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On Thursday morning, Goettsche-Wanli provided an update on the financial status of the Voluntary Trust Fund for the purpose of assisting developing countries, in particular SIDS and landlocked developing states, to attend the meetings of the ICP. She thanked New Zealand for a contribution in 2013 of over US$16,000, noted that DOALOS disbursed approximately US$22,000 and US$34,000 in the last two years, respectively, and that the balance of the Voluntary Trust Fund after this meeting will be approximately US$26,000. She concluded by recalling paragraph 272 of General Assembly resolution 68/70, whereby the General Assembly expressed serious concern regarding the lack of resources available in the Voluntary Trust Fund and encouraged Member States to make financial contributions, thanked all States that have made contributions in past years, and noted that DOALOS counts on future support to ensure that the Voluntary Trust Fund maintains a workable balance.

Argentina, supported by the EU and New Zealand, called attention to the means by which topics are selected and suggested that it would be useful if the document containing the suggested topics could be presented in the first round of the informal consultations on the draft resolution under the agenda item “Oceans and the law of the sea” at the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly. She suggested that this would enable discussions between the two rounds of consultations and enhance the selection of experts.

ISSUES THAT COULD BENEFIT FROM ATTENTION IN THE FUTURE WORK OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON OCEANS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA

On Thursday morning, Co-Chair Meetarbhan invited comments on the composite streamlined list of issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly, prepared by the Co-Chairs on the basis of Part C of the reports on the work of the Consultative Process from its fourth to fourteenth meetings (A/58/95, A/59/122, A/60/99, A/61/156, A/62/169, A/63/174 and Corr.1, A/64/131, A/65/164, A/66/186, A/67/120, A/68/159). The document sets out a wide array of specific issues under the following headings, presented in the order they appear: marine protected areas; implementation of international instruments; uses of the oceans; science/technology/data, including capacity building; ecosystem approaches to oceans; food security; conservation and management of living marine resources; international cooperation and coordination; marine environment; issues discussed at previous meetings; marine biological diversity and genetic resources; flag state responsibilities; human rights and labor rights; maritime security; maritime safety; settlement of disputes; hazard preparedness/mitigation; social aspects of oceans and the law of the sea; climate change and oceans; oceans and sustainable development; and “other,” which refers to threats to the oceans. 

 Noting no delegation indicated the desire to speak, Co-Chair MacKay stated that comments could be submitted electronically to the Secretariat and concluded consideration of this agenda item.

CONSIDERATION OF THE OUTCOME OF THE MEETING

CO-CHAIRS’ SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS: On Friday, Co-Chair MacKay introduced a draft version of the Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions. He reminded delegates that the document is not a “negotiated text” and is intended for “reference purposes only,” and invited delegates to identify major and substantive issues for revision and clarification. Delegates considered the summary document page by page. Sections that received comments are discussed below.

General exchange of views: The EU suggested that reference to “subsidies” should be more correctly reflected as “harmful subsidies.” The US questioned whether it was in fact “many delegations” that had drawn attention to the “effects of unsustainable exploitation practices on seafood availability.” Ecuador suggested the text was correct and Co-Chair MacKay clarified that while only one country made the statement, it was made on behalf of G-77/China and practice dictates that the term “many delegations” is used. The US expressed gratitude for the clarification. Barbados noted that reference to an “invasion of lionfish” should be added to a paragraph that also discusses an “outbreak of jellyfish.”

Understanding global food security and the current role of seafood therein: Madagascar underscored that mangroves are a critically important type of ecosystem.

Opportunities and challenges for the future of seafood in global food security: Japan suggested replacing a sentence in the summary of the presentation by Nobuyuki Yagi with the following: “He noted that, while current eco-labeling schemes have positive aspects, further considerations were needed to support the livelihood of small-scale fisheries of developing states as well as to help maintain marine and coastal ecosystems services.” In a sentence that states: “the most useful aspect of eco-labeling was in combating IUU fishing,” Japan called for the word “most” to be replaced with “one,” and Norway, who had originally made the statement, accepted the change.

Process for the selection of topics and panelists, so as to facilitate the work of the General Assembly: Uganda suggested that the reference to “a delegation” that had made a contribution to the Voluntary Trust Fund should be changed to name the country as a means to encourage further contributions.

Norway thanked the Co-Chairs and the Secretariat for their work and the panelists for their contributions. Co-Chair MacKay thanked the delegates for their inputs and stated that the Secretariat will reflect further on the comments and, where necessary, consult their notes. He explained that once the report is finalized it would be sent to the President of the General Assembly.

CLOSING PLENARY

Co-Chairs Meetarbhan and MacKay thanked delegates and participants for their active participation and thanked the panelists for their presentations, and commended Norway for proposing the year’s “timely topic.” The EU thanked the Co-Chairs and panelists, and noted DOALOS’s “commitment to the work of the ICP.” The Secretariat noted that following the closing of ICP-15 there would be a convening of the informal consultations on the draft declaration commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the entry in force of UNCLOS. Co-Chair Meetarbhan adjourned the meeting at 11:47 am.

GLOSSARY

DESA
DOALOS
FAO 
ICP   
IUU  
OWG
SIDS
UNCLOS

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Small island developing states
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

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This Briefing Note was written by Harry Jonas. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donor of the Bulletin is the European Commission (DG-ENV). General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA.
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