The Chair opened debate on this portion of the text by introducing his draft of Annex 1 on data requirements as well as an alternative text submitted by the Japanese. Delegates noted that one of the tools for better management of the resources is the requirement for scientific data. They stated that 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 scientific information, catch data and fishing effort statistics through the appropriate regional body, as provided for in Articles 61(5) and 119(2) of UNCLOS. It is necessary to avoid mis-reporting of catch data, but the cooperation of fishers must be ensured. 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 States when measuring 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 distant water fishing State 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, on data collection, 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 the Chair's text. Another distant water fishing State delegate supported the Japanese proposal as being "appropriate and consistent with paragraph 2 of General Assembly resolution 47/192".
One delegate said that the La Jolla ad hoc Consultation on the Role of Regional Fishery Agencies in Relation to High Seas Fishery Statistics 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 obtain information quickly 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.
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 the collection of data, but they should not be involved in enforcement.
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 distant water fishing States 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.
An intervention by the representative of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) 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.
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, for the master alone is responsible for the information provided. 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 that 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 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.
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