The chapter on oceans is the longest and one of the most complex chapters of Agenda 21. After intense negotiations throughout both PrepComs III and IV, all of the difficult issues were resolved with the exception of the issue of straddling and migratory fish stocks. Rather than allowing lengthy and acrimonious discussions in the Main Committee, Koh requested that the US hold informal consultations to achieve a compromise between Canada and the EC. Twenty-four hours later a compromise was in hand. The resulting text was similar to text proposed at the end of PrepCom IV. The new text for paragraph 17.52 reads: "States should convene an intergovernmental conference under UN auspices with a view to promoting effective implementation of the provisions of the Law of the Sea on straddling and highly migratory fish stocks". The EC was able to accept this language once text was added to say that the conference would draw on scientific and technical studies by the FAO and be fully consistent with the provisions of the Law of the Sea, in particular the rights and obligations of coastal states and states fishing on the high seas.
Chapter 17 contains the following programme areas: Integrated coastal zone management; Marine environmental protection (including land- and sea-based sources of marine pollution); Sustainable use and conservation of high seas living resources; Sustainable use of living marine resources under national jurisdiction; Addressing critical uncertainties for the management of marine environment and climate change; Strengthening international, including regional, cooperation and coordination; and Sustainable development of islands.