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AFTERNOON INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION

The Chair invited continuation of comments on Annex 1 and on the Japanese alternative proposal. One delegate said that the fundamental element here is supporting the development of sustainable management practices. Another delegate said that he could neither reject or accept the report of the La Jolla meeting at this time. He merely considered it a meaningful background document. A number of delegates voiced their concern that collecting and disseminating data should be used for conservation and management purposes and that the data is therefore confidential. Confidentiality of data is essential to maintain full cooperation of fishers in supplying reliable data.

One delegate said that regional and subregional organizations and the FAO should not be excluded from collecting and preparing data concerning straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. Another delegate stated that the flag State is responsible for collecting data. Nations fishing on the high seas should not be required to provide data on the high seas to a coastal State without an agreement with the nation fishing on the high seas, either in a bilateral agreement or through a regional organization.

Both the Chair's text and the Japanese alternative have positive and important solutions, and perhaps the best way to meet requirements for the whole exercise is to merge the two texts. Others expressed the opinion that it might be difficult to merge the two texts, but if discussion was held in a smaller group, it would be welcome and appreciated. One delegate said that scientific observers should not be the instruments for verifying what the master of the ship does, as the master is responsible for the information he provides. Scientific observers only collect data so as to assess impact on the stocks.

Collection of data on associated species from fisheries and scientific research should be emphasized in the Annex. Several delegates favored strengthening paragraph 2 of the Chair's text on training and assistance to developing countries, as well as strengthening the infrastructure of developing countries to allow access to data bases. Another delegate stated that paragraphs 4 through 11 in the Chair's text set out the minimum requirements for necessary data on the conservation and management of fish stocks. A non-governmental organization stated that confidentiality should not be used as an excuse to withhold data which is essential to the conservation and management of fish resources. The exchange of data should cover straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks throughout their ranges and she voiced concern about the confidentiality clause on non-aggregated data. It is important to include in paragraph 2 references to the importance of artisanal fishing in the provision of protein for people and of the role of women in fisheries. Discard statistics for target and non-target species should be specifically required. Data on indirect mortality of target and non-target species should also be collected. Another NGO emphasized the need for transparency of data and references to nutritional value of lost fish in discards as a basic fishery data requirement.

The Chair concluded discussion on this topic and said that the reports of the two Working Groups would be presented, with the Chairs of the two Working Groups introducing the papers. The Chair of the Working Group on the Precautionary Approach said that the original document contained a chapeau and five subparagraphs. The revised text contains a chapeau and six subparagraphs. The text includes new techniques for managing resources, reduction of bycatch where feasible, and a consideration of ecosystems in managing fish stocks.

The Chair of the second Working Group on Reference Points stated that all technical concepts were agreed on by consensus and that the Working Group only considered technical requirements for the development of scientific management advice. An important distinction was the difference between reference points used as a limit for management and those used as targets, designed for policymakers. Several delegates said that the range of application of these measures is limited to the high seas. Another delegate stated that subparagraph (a) in the revised draft of the Precautionary Approach text requires that States take into account socio-economic conditions of those States fishing the stock in question. The purpose here is not to mitigate or water down the conservation measures which would otherwise be appropriate to maintain or restore the stock. Bycatch cannot just be reduced only to the extent feasible.

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