This section deals with the need for coastal States and States fishing on the high seas to achieve compatible, coherent and coordinated measures for the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
Discussion on this matter was delayed until the Working Group on Precautionary Approach reported back to the Plenary at the end of the second week. The Chair then invited delegates to comment on Section IX of the text on compatibility and coherence. He said he had tried to reconcile the jurisdictional division between high seas and EEZs and the fundamental biological unity of the stocks.
The first delegate felt that the balance was not right with regard to the burden that weighs on the distant water States or the impacts borne by the coastal States. Some minimum standards must apply to all States.
The representative of a coastal State answered that there are fundamental differences that are reflected in UNCLOS, and the parties to this Conference cannot start from scratch but need to build on the Law of the Sea. Coastal States and States fishing on the high seas need to cooperate, but there is no need to tell the coastal States how they should organize within their EEZs. Measures should be stricter on the high seas than within EEZs and the measures in both areas will not always be equivalent. The interests of the coastal States are most vulnerable, and the rights of all States therefore cannot be put on the same footing.
Another delegate said that five principles should apply: the sovereign rights of coastal States within their EEZs must be respected; States have a right to fish on the high seas; the biological unity of stocks must be recognized; regional organizations will play a particularly important part to achieve management goals; and there must be mutual respect of rights and obligations under UNCLOS. A delegate said that he had no difficulties in principle with the concept of conservation and management measures "equivalent in effect" on the high seas, but a question arises as to exactly what the notion signifies. He suggested the establishment of certain criteria that would explain the concept in detail. Another delegate said that the question of how to achieve compatibility and coherence within conservation and management measures on the high seas clearly differs between the straddling fish stocks and the highly migratory fish stocks. Still another delegate said that if there is no uniform treatment of the biomass, then there is no effective regime of conservation and management. The biological unity of the stocks cannot be subject to negotiations with regard to national and international conservation measures, but the principle of the biological unity of species should not undermine the sovereignty of the coastal States in the EEZs. Any fishing on the high seas has a profound effect on the management of resources in the EEZ. A delegate said that the concept of ecosystem management should be introduced here.
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