The Plenary resumed in the afternoon with an examination of Section IV on the duties of the flag States. The Chair opened the session with a reminder that flag States have the primary responsibility to ensure that the vessels flying their flag adhere to conservation and management measures applying to high seas fisheries.
Some delegates called for stricter measures for flag States to ensure that their vessels' activities do not undermine or harm the effectiveness of international conservation measures. It was also suggested that flag States and coastal States cooperate to reduce the costs of onboard inspectors and observers. A distant fishing State observed that the presence of these observers would need to be prescribed by the regional organizations themselves when the vessels are on the high seas.
An additional sub-paragraph was suggested that would forbid vessels given the right to fly a State's flag to engage in any activity harmful to international conservation and management measures. An additional proposal establishes special procedures to allow a ship to fly a State's flag, including the prohibition of reflagging while at sea.
A delegate asked why the word "effectively" was used in reference to conservation and management measures but not with regard to the measures taken up by the flag State. Deletion of this word was suggested, but the Chair remarked that this language is drawn verbatim from UNCLOS. An amendment was also proposed that would require flag States to enforce temporary unilateral measures of an urgent nature taken by the coastal State.
Numerous references were made to the FAO flagging agreement, but the extent to which the text can be integrated within the Chair's document remains unclear. Some delegates were of the view that it cannot be integrated or that references cannot be made to it too explicitly since its adoption by major distant fleets is still uncertain. A delegate remarked that the Chair's text had been prepared before the flagging agreement was drafted and that the FAO effort should be considered. Small island representatives feared that the FAO agreement would not be ratified by the flags of convenience under which substantial distant fishing takes place. Strengthening the current text would thus be preferable.
With regards to enforcement measures, a member of the Like-Minded States recommended that the provisions of L.11/Rev.1 on that matter be reproduced in the Chair's document. CCAMLR was also mentioned as an agreement under which the enforcement measures are effective and could be replicated at this Conference.
The debate then turned to yet another theoretical confrontation over the interpretation of UNCLOS with regards to the rights and duties of the coastal States in their EEZs and the applicability of this Conference to the high seas, the EEZs, or a combination thereof. A distant water fishing State triggered the debate with its request that the reference to the high seas be deleted in the chapeau of paragraph 22 which deals with the measures to be taken by the flag States. Representatives of the coastal States were adamant that jurisdictional matters within the EEZ are not the concern of this Conference. Nandan reflected on the fundamental dichotomy on references to the high seas throughout the text, but added that in the particular matter of enforcement, there can be no doubt whatsoever as to the extent of the coastal State jurisdictional rights in the management of the EEZ living resources, regardless of whether the stock straddles or migrates to the high seas or not.
[Return to start of article]