ENB:07:22 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH WORKING GROUP

Numerous Precautionary Approach proposals, from delegates and NGO sources, were presented to the Working Group Secretariat early yesterday morning. The Secretariat membership consisting of Chair Andres Couve, FAO Representative Serge Garcia and a representative of the Law of the Sea Office, worked throughout Thursday morning preparing two pages of revised text (Paragraph 5 Rev.1). The Working Group reconvened Thursday afternoon. The Chair noted that the text would require a set of technical guidelines or Annex and in this matter he suggested that Annex 2 of document A/CONF.164/L.11/Rev.1 could become Annex 3 to the Chairman's negotiating text.

The first speaker stated that trying to generate technical guidelines when the substance of the revised text had not been agreed was "out of kilter." It quickly became evident that many of the divergent positions had not been catered to in Paragraph 5 Rev.1. The second speaker said that careful consideration of the general conceptual framework would freely stimulate the required technical guidelines. Another speaker underlined the interdependence between the Biological Reference Points (BRP) and Precautionary Approach. He felt that it might be appropriate to await the convening of the BRP Working Group before proceeding further. The Chair explained that it was his position to maintain balance and impartiality, but he was prepared to accept consensus, even though this might require establishing a working group within the Working Group.

For the DWF States, there was concern that the word "moratoria" was still featured in sub-paragraph (c) and said there was a need to qualify the term "ecosystem" with "stock area".

One delegate, acknowledging the difficult task of producing an agreed text suggested Paragraph 5 Rev.1 had not produced the level of consensus apparent at the conclusion of the Working Group the previous day. He said that the "precautionary thresholds" needed explanation by including objective and measurable thresholds. A DWF State did not oppose the idea of thresholds, but objected to mandatory usage, preferring a discretionary approach, with the threshold limit being set on a case-by-case, species-by-species basis.

The language in sub-paragraph (c) and the reference to irreversible damage in sub-paragraph (b) did not suggest a precautious approach, one delegate argued, and even when a small quantity of data was available, thresholds needed to be set just to be precautious. A delegate suggested that the Precautionary Approach should also be included in the FAO Code of Conduct.

The disparate views among delegates caused the Chair to recommend that the Precautionary Approach should be implicit throughout the text. Noting the considerable number of proposals requiring amendment, deletion, change and revision, the Chair suggested that while Paragraph 5 Rev.1 had not been endorsed it had nonetheless served as a useful tool upon which to develop a further revised text. He felt the way forward would be for States either collectively or individually to prepare additional submissions to the Working Group Secretariat on Friday morning, while overnight the Secretariat would begin to develop Rev.2.

[Return to start of article]