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DOWN THE CORRIDORS

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: Coastal State and DWFN delegates met in Conference Room 5 at 9:00 am on Wednesday and continued the review of the Chair's revised text on Article 21 distributed on 22 July. Paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 were considered during two sessions of informal consultations. Article 21, in its revised form, deals with subregional and regional cooperation in enforcement and appended is a new Article 21 (bis), which deals with the basic procedures for boarding and inspection pursuant to Article 21.

Paragraph 5 deals with the response time of the flag State to the inspecting State's notification of evidence from an inspection. Some delegates suggested that three days is too short to accommodate differing international time zones and the bureaucracy of some governments. The Chair reminded delegates that an earlier text had proposed a 24 hours notice and the 3-day time frame is now very reasonable.

Paragraph 6 promotes a mechanism whereby inspectors may remain on board a vessel when there are clear grounds for believing that a vessel has committed a serious violation. It also requires the inspecting State to inform the flag State of the name of the port to which the vessel is to proceed so that the investigation can continue. One delegate noted that this paragraph has to be viewed alongside paragraph 10, which requires the inspecting State to release the vessel to the flag State on receipt of such a request, together with information and the progress of the outcome of the inspecting State's investigation. Delegates noted that high costs of inspection would accrue to both the inspecting State and the flag State should a vessel be requested to proceed to the nearest appropriate port. This should encourage the speedy effect of inspections. The DWFNs could not accept any priority in favor of the inspecting State and an absence of balance would derogate the freedom of the high seas.

The Chair said the 3-day period was to the benefit of the flag State and it did not mean that the inspecting State will continue examination beyond 3 days.

Paragraph 7 requires the inspecting State to inform the relevant organizations, or the parties to the relevant arrangement, of the results of any further investigation and was accepted without comment.

Paragraph 8, dealing with the inspectors obligations, drew comment that both the safety of the vessel and its crew should be ensured but comment was also made that the safety of the vessel did not necessarily mean safety for the crew. The inspector did not have any right to assume command of the vessel. It was stated that the inspecting State should, to the extent practicable, ensure that their activity does not affect the quality of the catch onboard. Inspections should not hinder fishing operations, but the function of maintaining quality of the catch is not a responsibility of the inspectors.

Paragraph 9, dealing with the definition of a "serious violation", lists eleven probable violations. Some delegates said the listing represented a "shopping list" or the promotion of a "penal code" while others said it was excessively long. A shorter listing, one delegate argued, would act as an "indicative" or an "illustrative" range of serious violations that would highlight actions of reprehensible conduct. Delegates argued that without a "shopping list" Article 21 is meaningless. Another delegate suggested that there should be a specific definition of a "serious violation". The Chair said he could see no good cause to change anything.

Proposed amendments to paragraph 10 included the requirement of the inspecting State, upon the request of the flag State, to release the vessel to the flag State along with "full" information on the progress and outcome of its investigation.

Some suggestions to paragraph 11 simplified the rights of the flag State to take measures, including proceeding to impose penalties, against its vessels.

Diverse opinion existed with regard to the proposed text in paragraph 12 and the Chair agreed that further redrafting is required.

On paragraph 14, some delegates questioned its necessity because the matter is already covered in Article 43(2) of the Draft Agreement, which deals with the relation to other agreements.

NGO ACTIVITIES: NGOs continued their strategy meetings on Wednesday morning by discussing the use of selective gear and membership in regional and subregional organizations, and identifying language that can be used to improve transparency. Look for NGO proposed amendments to enhance transparency. In the afternoon NGOs discussed the EU position with J. Almeida Serra, Director General of the European Commission and Rafael Conde de Saro, representative of the European Council of Ministers.

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