Korea said his government was now prepared to accept boarding and inspection of its vessels, but cannot accept the detention of fishing vessels on the high seas, as this is contrary to the provisions of UNCLOS. Japan said that Part A, on duties of the flag State, generally follows what currently exists in the FAO Compliance Agreement, but, under paragraph 29, fishing masters should not be indiscriminately sanctioned. Detention of a flag State vessel by a coastal State should only be with the consent of the flag State.
Panama said that it is currently complying with most of these requirements, but could not accept inspection of its vessels other than by inspectors authorized by Panama. Malaysia said that the RNT represented a move away from flag State control and this is acceptable because of the serious level of over-fishing.
The Cook Islands, supported by Vanuatu, said the RNT does not provide adequate provision for developing coastal States that are also flag States and the problems facing these developing States must be recognized.
The Russian Federation, while supporting the general provisions of Section V, introduced a new paragraph under Part C on regional agreements and arrangements, which includes the right to prohibit a vessel to fish on the high seas in contravention of conservation and management measures. Argentina said the efficiency of the regime depends on the system of compliance and enforcement and it could not support deletion of the reference to detention and arrest of violating flag State vessels.
China argued that there should be no change from the provisions of UNCLOS with regard to violating flag vessels. Sweden said that to halt over-exploitation of fish stocks, it is necessary to agree on enhanced enforcement measures, as promoted in Parts A and B of the RNT. Mexico spoke in support of licenses to fish on the high seas, but said that monitoring programmes cannot be established quickly and efficiently without the transfer of technology.
Canada endorsed the position of the EU that there should be flexibility for regional organizations, but acknowledged that flexibility should be in the procedures themselves and recommended maintaining paragraph 31. This would then allow each regional or subregional organization to adopt procedures to suit their own circumstances. Member States of regional organizations should agree on procedures for execution, but implementation of the principles would fall to the organization. Canada wanted to adopt a binding international convention through which flag States agree ahead of time to the detention of vessels flying their flags with respect to paragraph 34. He endorsed the proposal by the Russian Federation that promotes a ban on reflagging on the high seas. Canada also supported the inclusion of additional text promoted by Ecuador and supported by Argentina and Indonesia on illegal incursions into the EEZ. Canada associated itself with Australia by wanting to keep as much as possible of the RNT. Canada supported the proposal by Samoa that high seas fishing vessels carry appropriate vessel positioning equipment and the communication facility to transmit that information.
Vanuatu supported Australia, Samoa and the Solomon Islands for retention of the text in Section V. The EU supported maintaining reference to the FAO agreement that should be applied generally and cover fishing activities for all species. Poland said that flag States are responsible and he could not agree to give coastal States more control than the provisions of UNCLOS, but acknowledged the importance of the FAO Compliance Agreement. Korea spoke in support of strengthening flag State responsibility for fishing on the high seas. Uruguay praised the text and suggested that, if adopted, it would require a few modifications. He supported Mexico on the provisions of observer programmes.
The US said extensive modification of the text would be required before it could become binding. He said the FAO Compliance Agreement, although misunderstood, did have teeth. There is no loophole with respect to vessels less than 24 meters. The US gave advance notice of a roundtable to consider the FAO Compliance Agreement where delegates and NGOs would be welcome. He also announced an October workshop, with FAO participation, that will address enforcement measures in the exclusive zones of developing countries and explain the state-of-the-art equipment to assist in enforcement.
[Return to start of article]