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AFTERNOON INFORMAL PLENARY

The Chair opened the afternoon informal session with an announcement that the programme of work will be changed and that the working groups will be scheduled as informal meetings of the Plenary. This agreement was acceptable to all delegates and the Chair then called for comments on Section III that deals with the actual measures to be taken by the regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements.

With reference to paragraph 18(d) on the collection of statistical data, a delegate said that measures should apply both on the high seas and within EEZs. Since some still have reservations on Annex 1, it was felt that the reference to it at this point was inappropriate. The representative of a developing State highlighted the fact that failures to fulfill the required commitments are not addressed. The different capabilities of developing States should also be taken into consideration. One representative argued that States can undertake to do their best, but there is no absolute guarantee in the field. It was also suggested that scientific committees be set up to help in that matter. The text should also explain whether the measures apply to straddling stocks, highly migratory stocks, or both.

There was heated debate on whether new entrants should be "deterred" or "discouraged" from undermining the effectiveness of the measures, as mentioned in paragraph 18(i). The provision on quotas and limitations on fishing efforts in paragraph 18(a) should be qualified with the phrase "as appropriate". A delegate insisted that the word "timely" should be added to the provision on the settlement of disputes, since this has been a problem in already-existing organizations. The question of whether these procedures should be binding is still in dispute.

Paragraph 19 on semi-enclosed and enclosed seas refers to the relevant provisions of UNCLOS and a delegate expressed his concern since UNCLOS has not yet come into force. Another State answered that the deletion here would be impossible or would need to be carried out everywhere in the text. It was also argued that coastal States should establish total allowable catches (TAC). A reference was made to the alternative draft in L.11/Rev.1.

Paragraph 21 calls for the participation of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and some felt that their participation should be left to the discretion of the regional organizations themselves. Minimum standards could be set up for the acceptance of these organizations. Another delegate was of the view that these provisions should be strengthened, and that the word "should" be replaced with "shall".

A delegate denounced strongly the attempts by distant water fishing States to undermine the content of the text. He reminded the delegates that the situation is dramatic and that it can not be allowed to continue. NGO representatives highlighted the plight of traditional fishers and called for their special interests to be taken into consideration. They also insisted that an ecosystems approach needs to be respected.

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