The resumed Review Conference of the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UN Fish Stocks Agreement) took place from 24-28 May 2010 at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Review Conference was mandated by Article 36 of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and by General Assembly resolutions 63/112 and 64/72. These resolutions established that the Review Conference, which had originally convened in 2006, could resume its work from 24-28 May 2010.
The resumed Review Conference focused on three substantive issues: areas in which implementation of recommendations adopted at the Review Conference in 2006 are proceeding well overall; areas in which implementation of recommendations from the 2006 Review Conference are at an early stage or where there has been little progress; and means to further strengthen the substance and methods of implementation of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA).
During the first three days of the meeting, delegates convened in plenary to share their views on these three issues. On the morning of the fourth day, Conference President David Balton distributed a draft outcome that sought to reflect these discussions, particularly areas where further action may be needed. Delegates met in a drafting group to further negotiate the draft text, which eventually agreed on an outcome document that was adopted late on the meeting’s fifth and final day.
The outcome document recommends further actions in a range of areas. A key issue addressed was the conservation and management of fish stocks, including outcomes on sharks, the ecosystem approach, excess fishing capacity and developing states’ abilities to develop their fisheries. The outcome also addresses mechanisms for international cooperation; monitoring, control and surveillance, compliance and enforcement; and developing countries and non-parties to the UNFSA. In addition, the document provides guidance on the future of the UNFSA process, establishing that the Informal Consultations of States Parties (ICSPs) would continue and also that the formal Review Conference could resume, although not until at least 2015. The final report will be transmitted to the RFMO secretariats and the UN General Assembly.
The outcome was described by many participants as “focused” and “targeted.” However, some left the meeting feeling that although there was progress on several key issues, the level of ambition overall had not been sufficient to address the many daunting challenges that lie ahead.