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INTERESTS OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

This topic was not included in the Chair's list of issues (A/CONF.164/10), but emerged as an item that required discussion. A number of developing States highlighted their dependence on marine resources, both for food and for livelihood. They commended the work of the FAO in this field and expressed their appreciation for documents A/CONF/ 164/L.11 and A/CONF/164/L.8, which recognize their special interest and needs. The debate, however, centered around the type of assistance that should be given to developing countries. It was agreed that assistance will enable developing States to fulfill their obligation to conserve and manage straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. However, an important point that was raised was that forms of assistance should not be limited to the development of fishing within national jurisdiction. Developing States expressed their intention to develop distant water fishing fleets and argued that the high seas fisheries should not be ear-marked for developed States that are already harvesting.

Another point that gave rise to debate was how financial flows would be channeled. The creation of special development funds was mentioned as well as coordinating efforts through the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) or the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The CSD will be dealing with Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 on the oceans in 1996 but, in the meantime, the GEF can be used to fund projects through its focal point on international waters. Some, however, expressed their fear that the issue of high seas fisheries would be diluted within the global context of sustainable development and called for a regional organizations approach. It was felt that through regional organizations the developing coastal States would find it easier to shoulder the burden of participation in the regional management regimes. It was mentioned that the levy of participation fees in regional organizations should be proportional to the level of catch, but adjusted by GNP or per capita income levels.

In addition to the transfer of financial resources, countries requested the transfer of technology and training of personnel. Countries in transition to market economies explained that they were unable to provide developing States with financial assistance, but were more than willing to train personnel in the relevant fields. Developing countries used this discussion to express concern with their difficulties in complying with conservation and management measures, both in terms of data collection and enforcement and monitoring. It was also recognized that access to markets should be facilitated for developing countries.

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