SCOPE OF APPLICATION: The first sentence of the draft reads: "States shall cooperate to ensure long-term sustainability of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks on the high seas." A number of delegates were of the view that the principle of biological unit must prevail. Therefore, this agreement's application cannot be limited to the high seas but should also include the EEZs. This was strongly opposed by a number of delegates from coastal States and led to a legal debate on the changes brought about by the Law of the Sea. It is not the first time that this particular issue was brought up. It was argued that the issue can only be solved through greater cooperation, and if equal rights are granted to all. Special rights to coastal States could undermine the balance. A delegate commented that the exercise of jurisdiction of the coastal State within its EEZ is similar to motherhood. Though nobody denies the mother's right to her child, she may still receive some advice from third parties. Likewise, the coastal State can benefit from counseling in the management of its EEZ resources.
"STATES" FOOTNOTE: This footnote, which says references to "States" should be read as references to States and entities (including regional economic integration organizations), generated a number of comments. It has been argued by some delegates that regional organizations, and the EC, need to be taken in full account. Their mention in the footnote would then be redundant. The matter of EC participation had been discussed and agreed to during the adoption of the rules of procedure. It was also suggested that States be defined according to the UNCLOS terminology as coastal States and States whose vessels fish on the high seas.
OPTIMUM UTILIZATION AND LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY: The question of optimum utilization (1(b)) is defined as a situation where incremental cost equals incremental benefits, but the notion fails to indicate what incremental costs will be borne for each species. In that respect, the goal should be to attain sustainable use and minimize discard and waste. Management and conservation measures should not be applied solely to stocks but also to the peoples involved.
PROTECTION OF ASSOCIATED AND DEPENDENT SPECIES: Paragraph 1(c) calls on States to ensure that harvesting of the target stock(s) does not result in associated or dependent species being reduced to unsustainable levels. It was pointed out that in the EC document A/CONF.164/ L.20, the approach was different since it focused on the protection of endangered species that should not go so far as to endanger the target species.
ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE METHODS OF FISHING: Paragraph 1(d) addresses the use of environmentally safe fishing techniques to minimize pollution, waste, discards and the catching of untargeted species. Some delegates believe that the provisions should not include pollution since there is no reference to it in paragraph 55 of Chapter 17 of Agenda 21. A delegate saw the provisions of 1(d) as too close to a blank check. Maximum Sustainable Yield was also mentioned by certain delegates as an environmentally safe method.
SPECIAL CONDITIONS OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: Most delegates agreed on the importance of paragraph 1(e), which mentions the special requirements of developing countries. Some said that more needs to be known about these countries' requirements so as to evaluate their chances of compliance. The question of how much access these countries will have to international agreements and whether they should be granted favorable access also needs to be addressed. This issue is rather ambiguous and was previously dealt with in UNCLOS. Some delegates supported the view that the special interests of coastal States should be dealt with in a separate subparagraph. It might be important to support developing countries wishing to enter fishing grounds on the high seas adjacent to their EEZs.
RESPONSIBLE FISHING: Some delegates viewed this issue as an essential one and questioned its relegation to the sixth point of the first paragraph (1(f)). They asked if it would be more appropriate to mention it earlier in the text. It was also suggested that a chapeau be added that would contain the principle of responsible fishing as well as other agreed basic principles, such as the rational use of the stocks and ecosystem protection.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: There is consensus on the need to encourage scientific research. It was suggested that 1(g) could be rewritten to stress the importance of scientific research and the role it can play in management and conservation of these fish stocks.
COLLECTION AND SHARING OF DATA FROM FISHING ACTIVITIES: A delegate disagreed with provision 1(g), in so far as it refers to data on the position of fishing vessels, which is too detailed and suggested that this provision be replaced with the notion of "area". Others commented that research programmes should not be only national, but also regional and international.
PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH PRINCIPLE: Though everyone agrees on the need to proceed cautiously, there were dissenting views on the exact meaning of the precautionary approach, as prescribed in paragraph 2. In particular, some viewed the negative reference to moratoria as too strong and possibly leading to its non-application when there is scientific uncertainty. It was recommended that the subject be referred to a group of experts who could define it in greater detail. It was pointed out that exploitation of fisheries could be mentioned more specifically.
[Return to start of article]