ENB:07:26 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

WORKING GROUP ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT REFERENCE POINTS

Sections IV and V of the draft text on Reference Points was considered yesterday morning. The Chair re-emphasized the tight time-frame within which the Working Group had to consider Sections IV and V, and hoped that the spirit of consensus could be maintained.

Section IV on "uncertainty" primarily dealt with the problem of dealing with knowledge when it is imperfect. A representative of the IOC questioned the interpretation of "environmental variability" and argued that while "El Ni´┐Żo" variabilities are approaching a stage of predictability, there was a need to separate out biologically recognized indicators causing reversible change and man-made pollutants causing irreversible degradation.

A distant water fishing State (DWFS) said it was important to recognize natural fluctuations in stocks. Cause and effect need highlighting. An NGO representative said it was necessary to establish that reference points be defined so that they are not invalidated. Another Like-Minded core group member said fisheries are seldom in equilibrium.

A delegate said the reference points corresponding to biological reference points are contained in the standards set by WHO and the Codex alimentarius. The FAO noted the burden of proof should not be on the fishermen but on the polluters. A Like-Minded core group member said pollution is really a matter for the health code of individual States, while another core-group member said the anthropogenic influences in fisheries should be adequately addressed.

Under Section V, Linkage to Management, the Chair said it was necessary to have a management system in place that used guiding signposts. A DWFS delegate said there is a need to take precautionary management measures which make up for the lack of scientific evidence, but the FAO representative reminded the Working Group that knowledge is uncertain, and presumption cannot remove uncertainty. A Like-Minded core group delegate said that UNCLOS language promoted the concept of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and this has not worked well. A Like-Minded core group member said there is no need to link explicitly TAC and resultant consequences of degraded data.

Revised text (Rev.1), was available prior to the beginning of the afternoon session. A DWFS delegate said the text reflects majority consensus and suggested the reversal of paragraphs 1 and 2 in Section I to give explicit reference to UNCLOS and Convention language. An NGO representative intervention highlighted the requirement for "safe" fishery products in paragraph 5.

A delegate reminded the Working Group that Rev.1 in effect represented the third draft, in a clear and concise text, incorporating all the relevant information and concepts. A Like-Minded core group delegate said that paragraph 4 referred to only one biological reference point (BRP) and that the strength of reference is weak. The Chair disagreed with this technical analysis and said it was important to identify biological units. Paragraph 4 was the appropriate place to describe these. Another Like-Minded core group delegate said that paragraph 4 was a "tall order" and it is not a practical measure. Discussion on this paragraph became contentious and the Chair deferred further discussion until after discussion of Section V. Only two minor amendments were tabled in Section II, which included a reference for long-term conservation and "utilization" of fishery resources.

Under Section III a small number of amendments were proposed under target and limit reference points. The IOC representative felt that Section IV, Accounting for Uncertainty, needed reflection in the Section I, especially if paragraph 5 made reference to pollution and degradation. Section V, Linkage to Management, paragraph 24 became another contentious issue with a number of alternative proposals tabled. At one point a Like-Minded core group member said the proposed revisions watered down the emphasis to over generalization. He also said that data quality could be improved by monitoring the quality of data. The word "cooperation" implicitly promoted sovereignty issues.

Paragraph 4 remained contentious and there was no consensus. A Like-Minded core group member, dissatisfied with the Rev.1 text, insisted that his alternative text be circulated for consideration. Three Like-Minded core group members insisted that the alternative text be transmitted to Nandan together with the revised text.

[Return to start of article]