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AFTERNOON PLENARY SESSION

The Chair opened the afternoon session by inviting delegations to make general statements. The Philippines said that the Chair's negotiating text adheres to the spirit of Rio and to the framework provided by UNCLOS, reaffirming the sovereign rights of coastal States for the purpose of conserving and managing straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks in their EEZs. The ultimate beneficiary of all precautionary approaches is the human being.

Discussion resumed on Section VIII of the Chair's text, Dispute Settlement. Many delegates stated that this chapter is an essential part of the Chair's text. Several delegates welcomed closer links with provisions of UNCLOS. Prevention of disputes can take many forms. Effective decision-making is preferable to any mechanism for dispute settlement. Guidelines for all regional agreements are needed so that there is harmonization. Some delegations had strong reservations that dispute resolution should be mandatory. There was support for an ad hoc expert panel, perhaps within the FAO, to assist States to resolve disputes without recourse to formal dispute settlement procedure, as stated in paragraph 41. One delegation said that where there are disputes, it is only a matter of having more information available. Access to dispute mechanisms must be given to developing countries and the least developed countries (LDCs). One delegation stated that such mechanisms must be timely, compulsory and binding. Several delegations supported language in paragraph 44 for the arbitration procedure to be the type described in Annex 2 of the Chair's text. An NGO representative said that regional organizations should include NGOs.

The Chair deferred discussion on Chapter IX, Compatibility and Coherence, until this week, as there had been some earlier discussion of the topic. The Chair suspended the meeting for five minutes so that delegates could consider an amendment submitted by the Russian Federation on the situation of enclaves, entitled "Addition to Paragraph 19 in Section II of the Negotiating Text". UNCLOS does not refer to the special situations of enclaves, which are areas of the high seas that are completely surrounded by EEZs. The measures envisioned are temporary until a mutually acceptable agreement is reached. Any negative consequences should be compared to those ensuing from uncontrolled fishing and extensive exploitation of resources found in the enclave. Many delegations said that they understood the sentiment behind the proposal, that coastal states have to take special measures in certain circumstances where an accident of geography has created an enclave as envisioned here. One delegate said that he did not understand limiting the proposal solely to straddling fish stocks. Another delegate said that the entire high seas could be considered an enclave, and another delegation said that this is creating a special rule for a special situation. Some delegates had trouble with the legal ramifications, since nowhere in UNCLOS is the coastal State given unilateral regulation of fisheries on the high seas.

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