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AFTERNOON INFORMAL SESSION

The Chair stated at the outset of the afternoon session that he would open the floor for discussion on the remainder of the Russian amendments.

The Russian Federation stated that it would add a new paragraph on the establishment of special measures to allow for increased responsibility of the flag State and for taking more stringent measures against violators.

In response, several delegations found the concept of enclaves unacceptable. A delegation was unable to explain how to integrate the concept of enclaves within the mandate of UNCLOS. The proposed phrase to be added at the end of the second sentence of paragraph 22, "including urgent temporary measures adopted by the coastal State", seemed a temporary unilateral measure. These temporary measures could include moratoria, which would be unacceptable. With reference to coastal States and regional organizations, coastal States can be parties to the mechanisms, but they should not substitute for them. Only through regional or subregional organizations should conservation measures be put into force. There should be a focus on the common interest of species conservation rather than on questions of whose fish it is. With respect of the proposed amendment of paragraph 22(e) on change of registration on the high seas, Paragraph 5 of Article 3 of the FAO flagging agreement was the maximum extent to which States could go. Others voiced support for paragraph 22(e) in the Chair's text as presently drafted. Another delegate thought that the matter is covered in Article 92 of UNCLOS. A delegate found difficulty with the fourth amendment for inclusion of a new paragraph after paragraph 22, stating that language should be found to distinguish between parties and non-parties.

Some delegations found the proposed amendments to be coherent in meeting the mandate of the Conference. They deal with real problems of high seas fisheries. The freedom to fish the high seas as seen in Article 116 of UNCLOS is subject to the rights, obligations and interests of the coastal States, because these resources are intimately linked to coastal States' ecosystems. The discussion boiled down to the special rights of coastal States, and the Chair had to interrupt the representative of a distant water fishing State after he quoted distinguished legal scholars at excessive length.

The Chair then invited delegates to comment on Section IX of the text on compatibility and coherence. He said he had tried to reconcile the jurisdictional division between high seas and EEZs and the fundamental biological unity of the stocks.

The first delegate felt that the balance was not right with regard to the burden that weighs on the distant water States or the impacts born by the coastal States. Some minimum standards must apply to all States.

The representative of a coastal State answered that there are fundamental differences that are reflected in UNCLOS, and the parties to this Conference cannot start from scratch but need to build on the Law of the Sea. Coastal States and States fishing on the high seas need to cooperate, but there is no need to tell the coastal States how they should organize within their EEZs. Measures should be stricter on the high seas than within EEZs and the measures in both areas will not always be equivalent. The interests of the coastal States are most vulnerable, and the rights of all States therefore cannot be put on the same footing.

Another delegate said that five principles should apply: the sovereign rights of coastal States within their EEZs must be respected; States have a right to fish on the high seas; the biological unity of stocks must be recognized; regional organizations will play a particularly important part to achieve management goals; and there must be mutual respect of rights and obligations under UNCLOS.

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