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AFTERNOON PLENARY SESSION

The Plenary resumed its review of Section V on flag State jurisdiction. Some delegates called for more flexibility on the part of the flag States with regard to boarding by persons of the non-flag States. The sovereignty, issue, however, was one on which traditional open registries were uncompromising.

A delegate argued that it might be helpful to get assistance from the International Maritime Organization when reviewing paragraph 28 on the applicability of sanctions.

A delegate said that one of the major problems is how to deal with States that are not party to the regional agreements. To be applicable to all there is a need to strengthen the arrangements into international hard law.

A distant water fishing State questioned the extent of the penalties applicable, whether they are pertinent to the vessel and how long they should be applied. References to "alleged violations" are too vague; they do not indicate what the sources of information are or how the violation is documented. The Chair answered that "alleged violation" is common language and taken from Article 217 of UNCLOS.

The question of compatibility of the required measures and national laws was addressed once more with a distant fishing State arguing that UNCLOS could not be opposed because it has not been ratified by the States concerned, and a coastal State answering that the reason UNCLOS was not ratified is well known to all and has nothing to do with compatibility with national law.

A representative of a coastal State warned against attempts by some to delete everything, ensuring the efficacy of methods of compliance and enforcement that would disturb flag States in any way.

The Chair intervened to explain how the text should be understood. Part A of Section V is an elaboration of UNCLOS but Part B should not be misunderstood as going further than UNCLOS. It is not an open season for coastal States to deal with foreign vessels on the high seas. The procedures must be agreed on before any of these measures can apply. He then invited delegates to comment on Section VI of the text on port State jurisdiction.

A delegate expressed concern at the provisions that allow the regional arrangement to grant authority to the port State to detain vessels when this authority is that of the port State alone. It was also suggested that the port State be required to notify the flag State of the actions taken.

It was argued by a distant fishing State that the port State has no right to deny access to the port and that, in this respect, the rights of the port State are not absolute and access to a port is a matter of right. In several paragraphs it is unclear that the authority is vested as a result of the regional agreements and it should be specified in more detail. A coastal State argued that all ports should be vested with that kind of authority, regardless of where the violation took place. Requiring the regional arrangement to grant that authority is a second stage in the process that is not useful.

An amendment was suggested that would require States to enact legislation empowering the relevant authorities to prohibit landings where the catch has been taken in a manner that has undermined the effectiveness of international conservation and management measures. If such universal obligations to this effect were adopted, illegal catches would have no where to go. It also presents the risk of seeing the contravening vessel call only in the ports of States that are not party to the regional arrangements. The text was characterized by a delegate as the perfect balance between the FAO agreement that does not really address the issue and L.11.Rev.1 that goes too far.

The Chair closed this discussion by saying that it would be necessary to go back to all the proposals and amendments that were suggested and that many points would need to be reconsidered.

A final amendment was tabled under which the port State adopts legislation according to which violations carried out on the high seas are to be considered as a violation of the law in accordance with the legislation of the port State. The reactions to this amendment were mixed and delegates will reflect on the new proposed language further.

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