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FISH CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS : FRIDAY, 19 AUGUST 1994

The Chair opened the informal Plenary by inviting the delegates to resume their review of the Revised Negotiating Text (RNT).

SECTION VII -- NON-PARTICIPANTS IN SUBREGIONAL OR REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS OR ARRANGEMENTS: China suggested that paragraph 40 be amended to encourage non-member States to abide by the conservation and management measures that are taken by the regional arrangement since, under the Vienna Treaty, States are not bound if they are not a party. Canada answered that the duty to cooperate in conservation and management measures stemmed from existing international customary laws and UNCLOS. Peru added that the Chinese amendment would undermine the effectiveness of the draft as it stands.

Norway, supported by Canada and Peru, proposed amendments that would reinforce coastal State enforcement against both parties and non-parties of an eventual convention. Non-parties should be encouraged to adhere to the convention and adopt laws and regulations consistent with its provisions. Parties should cooperate in a manner consistent with the convention and international law and exchange information on activities of vessels flying the flag of non-parties that undermine conservation and management measures. The EU, supported by Poland, warned against extending coastal State enforcement jurisdiction. Canada reminded the EU that mutual rights must be respected. Japan suggested that the phrase "within the framework of the organization" be added for clarification.

On paragraph 43, which deals with the activities that States can undertake to discourage undermining actions of non-members, Panama, supported by Canada and the EU, suggested that the words "in accordance with international law" be added at the end. Indonesia disagreed. The EU argued, and Mexico and Korea agreed, that the actions to be taken should be collective. Consequently, the word "individually" should be deleted. Peru, supported by Iceland, disagreed with this suggestion since it would virtually prevent coastal States from taking any action. Argentina agreed and suggested that if "individually" was deleted, "collectively" should also be taken out. Canada and Poland concurred.

With regard to paragraph 42 on the exchange of information, the Russian Federation proposed that member States exchange information on the activities of non-parties whose activities undermine the measures that the organization has taken.

The representative of the Canadian Oceans Caucus reiterated the need for an international conservation body to oversee and ensure implementation of legally-binding standards and systems. She also suggested that "fishers" and "fisherfolk" be substituted for "fishermen".

SECTION VIII -- DISPUTE SETTLEMENT: The Chair reminded delegates that the text is designed to expedite aspects of UNCLOS, especially in view of fragile and seasonal fisheries.

The US proposed that the RNT recognize the ability of regional organizations or arrangements to adopt procedures for the compulsory binding dispute resolution, but it should not compel them to set up such procedures. Many disputes in fisheries management require speedy resolution. Japan preferred the UNCLOS arbitration process. While Annex 3 is more "thrifty" than UNCLOS, it is technically difficult in comparison.

Uruguay said that while the RNT is acceptable, paragraph 44, requiring all States to cooperate to prevent disputes and settle disputes by negotiation or peaceful means, should be brought into line with UNCLOS. Paragraph 45 should include a binding and compulsory procedure. He spoke in support of Japan's proposal that the arbitration procedures in paragraph 43 be optional regarding Annex 3 or UNCLOS. The EU supported the US, but said the RNT should not move beyond the balance of UNCLOS.

Peru agreed with Uruguay, but disagreed with Japan over paragraph 50 requiring dispute settlement provisions to be consistent with UNCLOS. Canada said the lack of a compulsory and binding dispute settlement mechanism is a hindrance to solving disputes. The Solomon Islands, supported by the Cook Islands, said some reference should be made to Part XV of UNCLOS, which deals with settlement of disputes, and strongly supported the retention of paragraph 50 in the RNT. Poland accepted the dispute mechanism provisions and endorsed the Japanese proposal. The Russian Federation said the main objective of Section VIII is the quick settlement of disputes by peaceful means.

SECTION IX -- SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS OF DEVELOPING STATES: Mexico spoke of the importance of this section for developing countries. Balance is needed so the text does not focus solely on the principle of obligation but meets the requirements of the developing countries for sustainable utilization of their resources. Indonesia supported Mexico and said that paragraph 54 should grant developing countries favorable access to high seas fisheries. The new text should include provisions to enable developing countries to acquire fleets and participate in high seas fishing. Kiribati and other Pacific States said the RNT is now balanced and recognizes the sovereign rights of coastal States to exploit and conserve their marine resources, as these are sources of protein, employment and foreign exchange earnings. India said the precautionary approach developed in Section III.3.B.4 will incur heavy burdens on the developing countries unless there is adequate international assistance from the UN and its specialized agencies.

The EU said it maintained a policy of cooperation in fisheries with developing countries and major resources are devoted to it, but developing countries must fulfill their requirements in conservation and management.

China urged the international community to provide scientific and technological support to developing countries to improve the sustainable utilization of sea fisheries and aquaculture. Thailand spoke for an agreed repository to collect data and information, accessible by developing countries.

Sweden suggested an amendment to paragraph 51, calling for new and additional resources to be provided through the GEF and CSD.

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers called for international monitoring of foreign fleets entering coastal States waters, causing resource and access difficulties for artisanal and traditional fishers.

SECTION X -- REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT MEASURES: The Chair invited comments on paragraphs 57 (reporting) and 58 (review conference). The EU, supported by Korea and Sweden, said that the FAO is the organization best prepared to deal with the reports. The US, supported by New Zealand, said that he would be happy to see annual reporting. He also stated that a full review of the implementation of these important principles should occur three years from the date of adoption of this text. Peru said that under paragraph 57, reports should be sent to both FAO and the General Assembly, since FAO is only a technical body and cannot take further action if compliance is lacking. New Zealand said a legally-binding instrument would not obviate the need for a review conference. The Solomon Islands and Australia supported the RNT as it stands. The Russian Federation said that FAO should not have to do all of the work. Canada, supported by Uruguay, Morocco, and Poland, expressed a reservation with the first sentence of paragraph 57. Sweden favored retention of reporting to the CSD.

ANNEX 1 -- MINIMUM STANDARD FOR DATA REQUIREMENTS: Japan said it could agree to the purpose of this text but, supported by the EU, asked that regional organizations specify the particular data to collect, since each region has different characteristics. Japan said that for practical purposes, all the information that would apply world-wide need not be specified here. The data should be set in terms of standards and examples but not of minima. Brazil said that these amendments were too radical and should have been tabled much sooner. Australia, supported by New Zealand, Fiji and the Federated States of Micronesia, said she understood Japan's concerns but thought that the RNT was already flexible enough. Peru concurred, as did Papua New Guinea, who supported even stronger requirements.

Japan argued, and Poland, Korea and the EU agreed, that data should be collected both from the high seas and the exclusive zones. He added that it should also be clear from the beginning of Annex 1 that the collection of data will occur within the framework of the regional organizations.

Japan said that the data need not necessarily be reported on a vessel-by-vessel basis but may be aggregated for reasons of confidentiality. India and Mexico agreed. He also suggested that paragraph 7, on the information that is available through other means, be deleted. Indonesia argued that it should be retained and reinforced so that it does not appear to be so permissive.

With regard to the graphic flow of data contained in paragraph 12, the flow from flag State to coastal State should be through the regional organization that will then, on request, forward the information to the coastal States that are party to the arrangement. Norway said that the flow should be through the coastal States national fisheries administrations, as the increase in joint ventures makes collection difficult. The Chair said that the chart merely depicts the flow of data and is based on legal fishing. The flow of data to the coastal States in the absence of a regional organization still needs to be addressed.

India said that the requirements should be commensurate with the limited financial resources of developing States.

ANNEX 2 -- GUIDELINES FOR APPLYING PRECAUTIONARY REFERENCE POINTS: The Chair said that this is an important part of the agreement but that the topic can lend itself to further consultation. The text emanated from the report of the Working Group and needs further clarification. Peru hoped that the next text submitted would be a draft convention, but the EU disagreed. India, Indonesia, and the Chair himself admitted that they did not understand fully some of the provisions of Annex 2.

JOINT NGO STATEMENT: The Environmental Defense Fund, on behalf of 16 NGOS, called for a legally-binding agreement with sufficient substance to provide for effective and equitable conservation and management of the stocks on both the high seas and within EEZs.

GREENPEACE: Greenpeace asked that additional sections be drafted on the issues of excess capacity, marine environmental protection, the rights of small-scale fishworkers and transparency.

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