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MORNING PLENARY SESSION

The Plenary resumed Friday morning with a general statement by the delegation of Ukraine. The delegate indicated that in considering the application of measures for the conservation of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, it is necessary to extend the measures to the geographical area where the stocks live. Limiting their application to the high seas would diminish the effectiveness of these measures because it would lessen the responsibility by some coastal States in their EEZs to conserve.

The Plenary then resumed its review of the negotiating text with Section VII on non-parties to subregional or regional organizations or arrangements. The first delegate pointed out that this section might need to be reorganized since it deals with both non-members in paragraphs 35 and 36 and members of the regional organization in paragraphs 37 and 38. The Chair answered that he took good note of the comment but added that all four paragraphs deal with the same topic. Another delegate remarked that there should be an additional section between Sections V and VI or VI and VII dealing with coastal States enforcement. An amendment, taken from the Bering Sea Agreement, was suggested that would require the parties to regional agreements to take measures to deter activities that undermine the effectiveness of relevant international conservation and management measures.

The representative of a distant water fishing State noted that references to non-parties are inappropriate since a code can not impose obligations on a non-party. A new provision was suggested that would require any non-party to inquire with the regional organization about the possibility of carrying out fishing operations. Then, if the regional organization says that there are no possibilities, the flag State should not allow its vessels to fish in this area.

It was highlighted that some points of this section need to be clarified such as: how the regional organizations are identified; do they need to be inter-governmental; is the exchange of information limited to those actions undermining the effectiveness of the measures; what measures are envisioned; and do they include blacklisting and boycotts.

The Plenary then began a review of Section VIII on the settlement of disputes. The Chair said that this was clearly an important problem and the very reason why this Conference has been convened. He also said that the only way to settle disputes is to do so in a peaceful and orderly way. The procedure should be quick and simple and, if possible, disputes should be solved before the fishing season is over. In that respect, the help of technical experts might be valuable. It was agreed this is a very sensitive area where States interests do not always coincide, and the key point is therefore to have order.

References to proper decision making procedures were seen by some as irrelevant here since disputes can arise regardless of the initial decisions. References to experts should be refined to make very clear that the dispute may be referred to them but the States themselves will decide to do so. Only if all other possibilities fail will mandatory settlement of disputes apply.

Another delegate said that each regional organization should adopt the procedures as it sees fit. It is not only inappropriate but also impractical to demand that each and every regional organization adopt a specified and uniform procedure for dispute settlement. The same delegate said that he had difficulty accepting the fact that the parties would be bound by the procedure since they may well prefer to choose a procedure, the finding of which is not binding, such as conciliation.

A delegate said that the text does not provide for the case where a State does not abide by its obligation to follow the organization's mechanisms. Another delegate added that a mechanism applicable independently of the regional organizations goes hand-in-hand with the peaceful settlement of disputes.

A coastal State representative said that this text will not apply to disputes pertaining to the sovereign rights of the coastal States on the living resources of their EEZs because it is already provided for in UNCLOS, but an additional provision should make that fact clearer. A suggestion was made that would make the decisions dependent on the weight a member State carries in an organization. Another delegate said this would be unacceptable because it disregards the legal equality of all States, which is a universal principle.

There was also some doubt on how experts would be designated but the Chair said that they could also be consulted in informal procedures and the parties themselves would choose to consult them.

Some States were of the view that arbitration is the procedure that should be applied unless the parties to the dispute decide otherwise.

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