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FISH CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS : THURSDAY, 25 AUGUST 1994

The Chair, Satya Nandan, convened the Plenary to offer delegates the opportunity to present general statements on the text of his draft agreement (the "Draft Agreement").

PERU: The delegate said that the Draft Agreement is the first step towards truly effective conservation and management of the marine living resources. He underlined the objective, which is to ensure the long-term sustainable use of the stocks in question by implementing relevant provisions of UNCLOS. He said that we are not starting from zero but giving effect to what was agreed to in the last Law of the Sea Conference. The Draft Agreement applies to conservation and management measures in the high seas, with the exception of articles that apply mutatis mutandis in areas of national jurisdiction. Not included in the Draft Agreement are emergency situations that would allow adopting immediate measures to ensure the conservation of fish stocks, and there is no provision enabling States to prohibit unloading of catches.

EU: The representative of the EU stated that a binding instrument may have advantages, yet procedures can be time-consuming, especially in controversial matters. The concept of biological unity and compatibility of conservation and management measures remain crucial in order to avoid setting double standards. The Conference should take count of its achievements, especially in the context of the FAO Compliance Agreement.

CHILE: The delegate of Chile said that the scope of application should refer to straddling fish stocks and to highly migratory fish stocks located on the high seas, particularly in areas adjacent to the EEZ. Conservation and management measures of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks that apply to the coastal State within the EEZ should be taken with the consent of that State. The biological unity within the range of the stocks must be recognized. Only a legally binding convention will achieve effective implementation.

BRAZIL: He stated that the present text may not have provisions that were present in the Chair's Revised Negotiating Text ("RNT"). He said that a more substantive role for the coastal State has to be defined in this text. Future negotiations within regional organizations will allow for a political margin.

INDONESIA: The delegate of Indonesia supported Peru, Chile, and Brazil on two major points: the Draft Agreement should not detract from the powers of the coastal State in its own EEZ and coastal States have specific interests in the conservation and management of the high seas adjacent to their EEZ. In Article 3, the concept of rights of coastal States is not mentioned, and yet coastal States do not just have obligations. He also stated that Annex 2 was more readable, although paragraph 7 on fishing mortality rate should be simplified. In the next session of the Conference, he said that a one-half day meeting for regional groups to coordinate views should be provided.

ARGENTINA: The Argentinean representative said that he appreciated the format of a convention and the fact that the text is shorter, clearer, and does not have excessive details. Valuable ideas that appeared in the RNT have disappeared, and he supported suggestions made by Peru and Chile that would be useful for investing the Draft Agreement with greater balance. A clause on provisional application of the Draft Agreement, similar to that in the Agreement on the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS, should be added.

KOREA: The delegate of Korea stated that conservation and management of the stocks concerned should not be confined to the high seas but extend to sea areas under national jurisdiction. He did not feel that a consensus has been reached on the binding form of the document. The present text should read "The Chair's Negotiating Text". He said that he is greatly concerned about arrest and detention provisions and possible abuses by States.

INDIA: The Indian representative supported Argentina and all previous Latin American speakers in endorsing the basic points of the Draft Agreement. It should preserve the sovereign rights of the coastal States in the EEZ. Secondly, coastal States have a special interest in fisheries in the high seas adjoining their coast. Thirdly, conservation and management measures should be applicable, by-and-large, to the stocks in question. The Voluntary Fund might be more effective and substantial, and financial resources should be available to developing countries without reservation. He did not agree with the title of the Draft Agreement, and thought it would be preferable if it read "Draft Agreement for Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks".

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The delegate of the Russian Federation suggested calling the document "The Fish Paper". The draft is a good basis for continuing work, and he supported Peru, Indonesia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. In the future work of the Conference, it is important to focus on efforts ensuring the implementation of enforcement measures. In the application of the precautionary approach, a mechanism for interim measures should be provided for stocks seriously being depleted. Regarding conservation measures, he stated that an ecological approach is beneficial, and that the focus should be on strengthening this approach. He stated that while there had been a detailed discussion on enclaves, Article 14 does not fully resolve the issue. He expressed hope that in the future sessions this matter could be resolved.

JAPAN: The delegate from Japan said that the text was more balanced but added that further revisions are needed. It should be reviewed in terms of structure, content and wording. He supported Korea and said that there is no consensus reached yet on the question of form. Each coastal State and distant water fishing State must study the relationship and consistency of the document with UNCLOS, other treaty obligations, and domestic legislative systems. He said that his delegation had, in regards to flag State responsibility, supported the document in its entirety, assuming that the result would be a non-binding document. He also said that he could not support any attempt to change the substance of the FAO Compliance Agreement.

MEXICO: The delegate said he agreed with Peru, Chile and Argentina and supported Brazil's view that the negotiation should be on technical aspects and not on the political factors. The chapter on the participation of the developing countries ought to be strengthened, and financial mechanisms that do not involve the Voluntary Fund should also be put in place.

POLAND: The Polish representative said that he did not expect to deal with the text of a binding draft agreement. He added that the mandate of this Conference should apply strictly to straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks throughout their range and not in just one area. The notion of biological unity should be clarified, and the right of the coastal States to arrest and detain vessels on the high seas revisited, as would be the right of port States vis-…-vis foreign vessels.

ICELAND: The delegate welcomed the form of a full-fledged convention and said that the draft reflected a constructive basis for compromise of views at this and previous sessions. He expressed concern that the rights of the coastal States in their own EEZs were not reflected sufficiently well.

AUSTRALIA: Speaking on behalf of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, the Australian delegate said that the text appeared well balanced and was a sound basis for further negotiations toward a strong and binding outcome. He said, however, that the balance of the RNT had been altered with regard to the compatibility of measures on the high seas and in the EEZs, and that he had possible reservations on Article 3 that deals with the application of the Draft Agreement.

SENEGAL: The representative said that the new text touches on the responsibilities of all the States involved, but it still needs to be improved so that there are no loopholes for those who violate the conservation and management measures. The application of the measures on the high seas should be more strict and the rights of the coastal States in their EEZ should be more protected.

CHINA: The Chinese delegate said that no consensus has emerged on whether the outcome of this Conference should be a legally binding document, and that all opinions should be taken into account. He agreed with Korea that the title of the document should be changed to better reflect the present situation. He also expressed concern over the provisions that deal with the issues of enforcement on the high seas, the abuse of rights on the high seas, the principles to be followed when new organizations are set up, and the relationship between this document, UNCLOS and FAO documents.

ECUADOR: The representative said that in order to be acceptable, the draft should have a better balance between the various interests at stake. He agreed with several Latin American States and the Russian Federation on the issues of the norms of application, dispute settlement and port State jurisdiction.

NORWAY: The delegate expressed the same concern over the balance of interests, which tilts too much in favor of distant water fishing States. The question of enclosed and semi-enclosed areas and the criteria for new entrants to regional organizations also need to be looked into.

URUGUAY: The representative said that the draft binding document is the main success of this session, as its objective is the conservation and sustainable use of stocks, pursuant to the implementation of UNCLOS. He said that Article 3 on application should not affect the rights of coastal States in their EEZs and added that the adoption of provisional measures by the coastal States should be permitted.

CANADA: The Canadian representative said that the laissez-faire practices of the past do not work and we need a binding convention that has teeth. He also noted that the word "compromise" was hardly ever heard and that the issue of the rights of coastal States in the EEZ has been solved and should not be reopened.

PHILIPPINES: The delegate said that like "Ambrosia from Olympus", the fish are no longer there, as the species have been harvested to the point of exhaustion. The Heads of State in Rio recognized that States are bound morally and politically to cooperate, and he added that this Conference is also linked to the World Summit for Social Development.

KENYA: The Kenyan representative said he appreciated the balance of the text and that he remained convinced that the goals of conservation and management would be attained. He also suggested that an annex be added where straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks would be clearly defined and listed.

MOROCCO: The delegate associated himself with those who expressed the wish to see more explicit rights for the coastal States, as reflected in UNCLOS. He welcomed the spirit of courtesy and seriousness that has prevailed despite the diametrically opposed views expressed by the delegates.

MAURITANIA: The delegate said that as a coastal State that depends on fishing, Mauritania hopes that the delegates will be able to take practical and binding measures, but that this effort is complementary to UNCLOS and should not undermine it. He said that particular emphasis should be placed on the needs of developing countries so that they are able to fish on the high seas as well.

UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA: Speaking on behalf of the Canadian Oceans Caucus, the representative of UNAC asked that references to marine conservation areas be highlighted in the text. These areas have been set up in the EEZs of New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the UK. They protect ecosystems and promote biological diversity.

The Chair said that he felt this had been a very useful exchange of views and that it would serve as a good basis for negotiation in the next session. The text has been edited slightly and it will be reedited, although Thursday's comments were not taken into account. Sweden said that it would make a statement on Friday. The Chair acknowledged this request and adjourned the Plenary.

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