The Chair opened the session by introducing his draft of Annex I on data requirements as well as the Japanese alternative text. Delegates have recognized that one of the tools for better management of the resources is the requirement for scientific data. Unless this becomes available the Conference cannot achieve the goals of its mandate.
Japan said its text was not designed to water down the Chair's negotiating text. Fishing of stocks must carry the obligation to exchange data through the appropriate regional body, as provided for in Articles 61(5) and 119(2) of UNCLOS. Japan, as a distant water fishing State (DWFS), collects data, since all vessels flying its flag are required to provide this data. It is necessary to keep in mind the mis-reporting of catch data, which is important to science and decision-making processes, but also to ensure the cooperation of fishers. The delegate expressed doubt as to the practicality of promoting the Chair's appreciation of the minimum data requirement provisions, and said he had problems with the illustrated flow chart. Decisions on data collection should be left to regional arrangements or organizations. Japan also has problems with the release of data and information that it considers to be commercially confidential and which therefore needs to be protected. Another delegate responded that the unavailability of commercially confidential information creates problems for the appreciation by States of biomass levels. Delegates did not have the same views on what should remain confidential and what is likely to undermine the conservation measures and needs to be disclosed.
A Like-Minded core group delegate said that formal reporting of catch data rests with the flag State, but while fishing in the coastal State's EEZ, flag State vessels are also required to report to that coastal State. Where no regional organization exists, the flag State should report to one of the coastal States in the region. The Japanese proposal has merit in being shorter, but its substantive requirements are less comprehensive than those of the Chair's text. A representative speaking on behalf of States from the South Pacific said she felt that the Japanese text had some merit in the area of data dissemination through regional organizations. All fisheries data needs to be assembled and analyzed in support of Section IX on compatibility and coherence.
The first DWFS delegate to speak said that the data requirements should be general in all cases, and that this should be reflected in the title of Annex 1. Paragraph 1 should emphasize the mandatory elements of data collection, because without such data, optimum management of fish stocks is impossible. He preferred substitution of the phrase "within the area of the straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks" for "high seas" in paragraph 3 of the Chair's text.
Another DWFS delegate supported the Japanese proposal as being "appropriate and consistent with paragraph 2 of General Assembly resolution 47/192". His flag State fishing vessels are required by law to report their position to the national fishing administration, but are not legally required to reveal where their catches were taken. Such information could, however, be revealed to the coastal State's fishing administration.
One delegate said that the La Jolla workshop highlighted the gaps in data collection. Technical details vary from region to region, but one problem of high seas statistics is caused by the confidentiality of catch data, especially for tuna. Coastal States have a legal interest to quickly obtain information from fisheries outside their EEZs for the purpose of establishing management measures. Supporting the intervention of a Like-Minded core group member, one delegate emphasized the need to monitor associated and dependent species as well as target stocks. The requirements should extend to those States that are not party to the regional arrangements.
The bridge that the Japanese proposal builds in the flow chart between coastal States national fisheries administrations and DWFS fishery administrations is a positive point that ought to be retained. Another delegate said that the flow chart could be more simple as there are only three cases: coastal vessels fishing in the EEZ and the reporting of data goes directly to the flag State; a DFWS fishing in the EEZ of another State and the data is transferred to the flag State and the coastal State; or a DWFS vessel fishing on the high seas and then it should report to its own flag State, which will in turn transfer the information to the regional organization.
Taking into account the volume of discards is an important data component and a delegate pointed out that one fleet's discard species may well be another fleet's target species. The data collected should be used to make projections so that it is possible to know what stocks will exist depending on what effort is applied. With regard to the examination of log books, a delegate said that there is so much information that it is not realistic to expect to check all the log books of all vessels. The delegate of a developing State said that observers may board vessels as long as they have been invited by the regional organization, but it is important to avoid any idea of coercion. The role of these observers should be limited to collection of data, but they should not be involved in enforcement. A delegate remarked that the reference to historical catches in paragraph 4.a was too strict and asked if the authors wanted to go back to the times when St. Peter was fishing.
There was disagreement again on the scope of application of the measures on the high seas and within EEZs, as a representative argued that the coastal State has more interest in seeing that the right information is circulated than the DWFS do. The same delegate asked that references to the high seas be retained. Several delegates felt that the Chair's text and the Japanese proposal were not necessarily mutually exclusive.
The IOC intervention recommended the inclusion of an additional sub-paragraph that will require future fisheries data to increasingly recognize oceanographic contaminants, habitat and ecological changes as environmental factors.
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