The Chair, Satya Nandan, opened this session of the Conference by saying that the participants will need to take critical decisions and show a new kind of global commitment as UNCLOS enters into force. At UNCED, States admitted to the failure of the international community to manage global fish resources. Part of the problem was a lack of cooperation among States. States have ignored the fact that the right to fish is conditional and accompanied by the duty to manage and conserve the resources for present and future generations. This Conference must establish minimum international standards, ensure that the measures taken in the EEZ and on the high seas are compatible and coherent, ensure that there is an effective mechanism for compliance and enforcement of those measures, provide for a globally-agreed framework for regional cooperation, and establish compulsory binding dispute settlement mechanism consistent with UNCLOS.
He then presented the program of work for the next two weeks. Brief general comments will be heard on the revised negotiating text. The Conference will then proceed to review the text section by section. Following the first reading, the Chair will undertake informal consultations on those matters that have been identified as areas that can be further improved. At the end of the first reading of the text, the Conference should address the question of the form of the outcome of its deliberations. A revised text should be ready for consideration at the beginning of the second week of this session. He then invited delegates to make general statements.
CANADA: The Hon. Brian Tobin, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for Canada, gave five causes of the global fisheries crisis: overcapacity; inadequate scientific information; failure to take needed conservation decisions; inadequate enforcement; and an ineffective international regime to deal with straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. Inside 200 miles, the current legal regime gives the authority and the responsibility to the coastal State to deal with these problems. Outside the EEZ, no such regime exists. This session of the Conference should negotiate the means to incorporate arrangements on compatibility, dispute settlement, and high seas enforcement into the international regime.
UNITED STATES: Ambassador Larry Snead said the US position is one of building bridges between the coastal States and the distant water fishing States and working diligently toward a legally binding treaty. The success of the recent negotiations to conclude the Law of the Sea and the adoption of the FAO's "Flagging" Agreement are positive indicators that the time is right to move aggressively toward a binding treaty. A binding document must have as its objective the long- and short-term sustainable use of resources that recognize the concept of biological unity; consistency with UNCLOS; cooperation between coastal States and flag States; and consistency with the concept of maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
EUROPEAN UNION: J. Almeida Serra said the valid starting point has to be effective conservation and rational and responsible exploitation of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. Consistency or compatibility can only be obtained through effective cooperation among all States, preferably at the appropriate regional or subregional level. The EU is willing to accept and observe the standards negotiated if they apply equally to coastal States in their EEZs.
JAPAN: The representative of Japan said that for this Conference to adopt a strategy, it is essential that the framework be acceptable to as many countries as possible. Compatibility is essential, given the biological characteristics of these stocks. He said that Japan opposes a legally binding document.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Dr. Choi Young-Jin said that this Conference has been charged with making appropriate recommendations for improving the management of high seas resources consistent with UNCLOS. He stated that the Chair's revised negotiating text needs to be more balanced, since it unilaterally favors the coastal States with regard to the central issues of enforcement, compatibility, and dispute settlement.
AUSTRALIA: Speaking on behalf of the 16 members of the South Pacific Forum Fishery Agency, Richard Rowe said that the process must also respect fully the rights of coastal States to conserve and manage fisheries resources within their own EEZs. A cornerstone of progress must be the elaboration of an effective prescription of flag State responsibility that will include the collection and sharing of fisheries information as set out in Annex 1 of the revised negotiating text.
ARGENTINA: Ernesto Gondra highlighted the great amount of money that his country spends for surveillance and enforcement as a result of illegal entry by flag of convenience vessels. He called upon flag States to exercise greater control over vessels flying their flag.
UNITED KINGDOM: David Anderson spoke about the small British Territories who manage their own resources under their own laws and are all committed to this process. Several of these Territories have experienced problems such as the illegal fishing by foreign vessels in their zones, vessels fishing straddling stocks just beyond their 200 mile limit, and the establishment of quotas by regional organizations to which they are not party.
POLAND: The representative of Poland said he fully accepted the mandate of the Conference. It is important to strengthen and elaborate the cooperation and management measures. He noted that many areas under national jurisdiction have severe management problems. Management needs to be based on the principle of biological unity and the stocks viewed as biological units to ensure sustainability of stocks. Three important issues need to be addressed: compatibility and coherence; enforcement and surveillance on the high seas; and the settlement of disputes mechanism should be based on UNCLOS.
PERU: Ambassador Alfonso Arias-Schreiber said that any mechanisms developed in the negotiated text should be binding, or current fishing practices will continue. The proposal from Ecuador (A/CONF.164/L.44*) should be taken into account in revising the negotiating text and in the Convention. Coastal States are not striving for mandatory measures for distant water fishing States, but there is a need to end unregulated fishing on the borders of coastal State EEZs.
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