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WORKING GROUP ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT REFERENCE POINTS

Chair Satya Nandan opened the Working Group on Monday afternoon, thirty-five minutes later than planned because of difficulties in designating the Working Group Chair. Vice Chairs of the Conference, he said, were not numerous, but it was especially valuable to appoint a Chair with technical competence. His suggestion of Dr. Andy Rosenberg (USA) was endorsed by delegates. Nandan reminded delegates of the two management concepts contained in UNCLOS, but in terms of developing a revision of the negotiating text, he said delegates should deal with MSY as defined by UNCLOS and not abstractly.

Initially, delegates reflected on the FAO paper (A/CONF.164/INF/9), which many described as an authoritative document in the classical sense and valuable to the stimulation of debate.

One distant water fishing (DWF) State asked for clarification as to whether the suggested annex would be an annex for paragraph 5 or an annex to the negotiating text. The Chair replied that it would be necessary to define an annex for both the Precautionary Approach and the MSY.

One delegate suggested that MSY be introduced into the Chair's text. A Like-Minded core group delegate said the Chair's proposal to create a framework in which concepts, reference points and guidelines could be adopted was a sound proposition. The Chair responded by indicating that the technical annex could be used to describe reference points for different purposes in management strategies. He asked that delegates give their comments to develop the technical ideas which could then be related back to paragraph 5. Delegates endorsed the Chair's five-point draft action plan that identifies: the need for an introduction to discuss the context of the issue and its relationship with both the BRPs and the Precautionary Approach; the importance of setting management objectives and their interdependence; the need to describe and distinguish between management targets and conservation reference points; the requirement to identify the issue of uncertainty; and the linkage between concepts of precautionary approach and reference points and the practical implementation of management. A DWF State delegate said there would be a need to distinguish between BRPs and Management Reference Points. One delegate said the MSY concept is now outdated and should only be treated as a philosophical reference point, rather than a mathematical one. The FAO Representative said that management objectives needed clarification. One delegate argued the need to recognize the importance of non-target species and the ecosystem approach.

The Chair underlined the need to define objectives preventing non-sustainable fishing. A Like-Minded core group delegate suggested that International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) "safe biological limits" could be developed while another core group member said it was necessary to define objectives and reference points for both established fisheries and new fisheries. The FAO said that some reference points are strategic to the management of fisheries, but others are purely tactical. The Chair asked delegates to submit their written proposals by 10:00 am today. The Chair will then synthesize the proposals received and produce a draft text which will be made available prior to the second session.

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