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DOWN THE CORRIDORS

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: Informal consultations began with the Chair asking delegates to review his circulated revised drafts of Article 21 and Article 21(bis). In opening discussion on Article 14, the Chair said Article 13 is subsidiary. One delegate said that the majority of the States support the proposal made by Canada, Peru, the Russian Federation and the US, proposed on 6 April 1995, and argued that it merited inclusion in the Draft Agreement. Another State disagreed, saying the contents of this article and Article 7 should not be included in the interests of "legal purity". One delegate said that some States with a vested interest in the Sea of Okhotsk fishery had entered into bilateral agreements with the coastal State. He said his country had implemented conservation and management measures before entering into a recent bilateral agreement in this region.

Another State argued that the article and proposed changes alter the mandate of the General Assembly and the provisions of UNCLOS because "no specific right on the high seas not already provided in UNCLOS can be recognized". The Chair said the text as drafted is consistent with UNCLOS, and reinforced the need for cooperation between States. Another State said the question of "legal purity" was not based on substance and pointed to a lack of counter-proposals. He noted that although there are bilateral agreements with some "responsible States", unilateral action was still a possibility in the Sea of Okhotsk and other areas. A coastal State noted the purpose of this conference is the development of international law, as UNCLOS does not provide for all eventualities. Delegates discussed the historical movement of the pollock fishery from the US EEZ, to the "Donut Hole" in the Bering Sea, and finally into the Sea of Okhotsk. One delegate stated a situation similar to the "Donut Hole" would not be tolerated and that other measures would be taken if necessary.

The Chair said he could see little reason to remove the article and said that arguments regarding the ability of one State to take unilateral measures on the high seas must be balanced with the need to ensure cooperation for measures on the high seas. The Chair's draft seeks to secure such cooperation.

For Article 13, on semi-enclosed and enclosed seas, some delegates said the terms "natural" and "geographical" proposed by another State were unnecessary. Another said the conservation and management measures of the coastal States should be taken into account, and suggested the addition of "in accordance with the rights, duties and interests of the States concerned". Others expressed disagreement with these changes. A DWFN said inconsistency exits between the proposal for this article and Articles 122 and 123 of UNCLOS. He said UNCLOS does not envisage rights for the coastal States, but refers to coordination. The Chair agreed that the article's language could be broadened to include all States fishing in these areas. The Russian Federation said its proposal is based on Article 123 of the Convention and emphasizes two elements: coastal States bordering these areas should cooperate in their management; and coastal States should "invite... to cooperate" as outlined in Article 123(d) of the Convention. A DWFN stated that preferential treatment is given to the coastal States in the proposed text, and that the reference to "legal and other relevant conditions..." is unclear. He and others then expressed support for the Chair's draft over the alternate proposal. The Chair said he will clarify the article to the greatest extent possible while retaining consistency with UNCLOS.

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