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MORNING INFORMAL PLENARY SESSION.

The Chair opened the morning session at 11:30 am after conducting two hours of informal-informal consultations with delegates. The Plenary continued its review in informal session of the Working Groups' documents. Dr. Rosenberg, the Chair of the Reference Points Working Group, speaking in reply to Thursday's opening statements, emphasized the strong link between the precautionary approach and the technical guidelines for use as reference points. Both Working Groups deal with the development of management strategies, not the tactics used to implement those strategies. He highlighted the consensus reached by the participants of the Reference Points Working Group and disagreed with the statement made by a Like-Minded core group delegate that paragraph 4 has anything to do with sovereignty issues or where the measures will apply. A distant water fishing State (DWFS) delegate regretted that the statement of one Like-Minded core group delegate moved the Conference back to where it had been at the end of the first substantive session by attempting to renegotiate UNCLOS rather than addressing the biological unity of stocks across their entire range. Two delegates supported this view stating that management models should be developed on the basis of scientific data, collected from the entire range of the stocks, and urged inclusion of the Precautionary Approach document in the negotiating text. The biomass producing MSY should be used as a tool in the rebuilding of stocks. Additional environmental factors such as those proposed by the IOC also need to be included. A delegate said that high seas fisheries not only pose legal problems but also fundamental biological problems and he reminded the Conference that the reproduction capacity of the stocks concerned is limited, while fishing capacity is unlimited. Precautionary management in paragraph 5 of Annex 1 is applicable both to the high seas and to the EEZs of coastal States.

Andres Couve, Chair of the Precautionary Approach Working Group, spoke in support of the maintenance of the socio/economic conditions in Working Paper 1, but he said that it should have parallel priority with climatic and oceanographic factors. Bycatch minimization is necessary, but it cannot be reduced beyond what is technically possible. Recovery plans to halt overfishing can be reached under pre-agreed plans, not a pre-agreed course of action as stated in paragraph (c). But, in developing new fisheries, it is essential that vessels release catch information data to establish conservation and management measures. The concept of moratorium is an element of conservation management that cannot be explicitly ruled out. He said that with regard to consensus within the Working Group on Reference Points, more discussion needs to take place. He asked the Chair to accept his alternative proposal on paragraph 4.

The representative of a coastal State reflected on his statement made Thursday and said that, in view of the jurisdictional questions raised by the Precautionary Approach, there is no doubt that the guidelines of the Working Group apply to the coastal States within their EEZs as well as to States fishing on the high seas. Sensitivities cloud issues and divert the delegates from finding common ground in search of solutions to the problems of the stocks.

Another delegate said the concept of socio/economic conditions raised ambiguities and would be better addressed elsewhere. Working Paper 1 language needs to be brought in conformity with UNCLOS terminology. She said Working Paper 2 can be distilled into a single page document but needs polishing up. A developing country delegate spoke of the importance of socio/economic conditions, since protein and nutrition should be available to all peoples and the Conference should emphasize the importance of all human beings. The ultimate objective of sustainable development for future generations must be maintained rather than the rash exploitation of resources without productive utilization of bycatch.

The explicit recognition of "moratoria" in the Precautionary Approach language as a management tool was not supported by DWFS delegates. The final speaker of the morning session expressed his astonishment at the intervention of a Like-Minded core group member the previous day that had affected support for the Working Group's reports. He strongly supported the socio/economic language and reminded delegates of the concept contained in the FAO paper on Precautionary Approach and the Code of Conduct. He could not agree with the insertion of "productive utilization of bycatch", because the emphasis is on conservation and not on utilization of resources. He supported the concept but suggested that it be placed elsewhere in the text.

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