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DOWN THE CORRIDORS

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: The Chair convened informal consultations to discuss the participation of the EU, and urged delegates not to create any impediment or conditions upon the EU acting as lead negotiator in matters over which they have competency. According to Annex IX, Article 2 of UNCLOS, an international organization may sign UNCLOS if a majority of its member States are signatories, and Article 3(1) allows an international organization to deposit its instrument of formal confirmation or accession if a majority of its members States deposit or have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession. Following the Annex IX provisions without amendment could mean that EU participation will be a protracted process.

Article 47, which was agreed upon, holds that Annex XI provisions will apply in cases where an international organization does not have competency, except that the first sentence of Article 2 and Article 3 (1) shall not apply. In cases where the international organization claims competence over all the matters governed by the Agreement, the organization will become the negotiating body and its member's States shall not become States Parties, except with respect to their territories for which the international organization has no responsibility.

The Chair also considered problems remaining with Article 16, formerly Article 14, on areas of high seas surrounded by the jurisdiction of one State. "With that State" was deleted from the first sentence to remove any implication that fishing States will be obligated to cooperate with coastal States. One delegate requested attention to the last sentence, which his government had informed him, was "compromised". A small group of delegates with a particular interest in this Article were to meet following informal consultations. Delegates made additional suggestions for minor changes to the text and asked questions regarding translation problems. The Chair took note of the editorial suggestions and asked delegates with translation problems to contact the Secretariat.

NGO ACTIVITIES: NGOs met with Dr. Wolfgang Krone and Dr. Margarita Lizarraga from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at 2:00 pm in Conference Room A, to discuss the development of the FAO "Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries". Draft copies of the Code of Conduct and Working Papers on Articles 6 and 7 were made available to NGOs. Dr. Krone underscored the importance of understanding and collaboration with NGOs in the successful drafting of the Code of Conduct. He summarized progress to date saying that the Working Party set up by the FAO Committee on Fisheries had discussed much of the text, but that Article 6, dealing with fisheries management, and Article 7, dealing with fishing operations, were held in abeyance for discussion by the Technical Committee until the closing of this Conference. The Technical Committee will reconvene at the end of September to finalize outstanding Articles and produce a final text. The text will then pass through the Council on Fisheries for approval in mid-October, and be presented for adoption at the FAO Conference on 25 October 1995.

In response to questions from NGO representatives, Dr. Krone stated although the Code of Conduct is voluntary, it addresses all fisheries, and as such covers areas not discussed in the Agreement. He pointed out that the non-binding nature of the Code of Conduct allows for a more stringent approach to some issues not covered in the Agreement, but emphasized that, although the Code covers 100% of maritime fish production, consensus on issues such as high seas fishing rights expressed at this Conference will be respected. In response to comments regarding working conditions, gear restrictions and other concerns, Dr. Krone agreed that some of these issues must be dealt with and stated that technical consultations are on-going in Canada in concert with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and others to deal with this in a separate framework.

In reference to implementation of the Code of Conduct, Dr. Krone recognized that developing countries would require assistance, and said the FAO has begun development of a draft regional programme to address this concern. The basis for the programme is education and training in the development of: regional and subregional arrangements and organizations; monitoring, surveillance and control; and selective gear in management. He stressed the importance of publicity and promotion in the country to create awareness of the need for the programme.

Regarding other activities many groups have continued their lobbying activities and have to date secured ninety-six signatories to the NGO Treaty that was published in the 24 July 1995 edition of ECO. The Treaty represents the views and concerns of millions of fishworkers, their families, environmentalists, scientists and citizens throughout the world.

PRESS BRIEFING: During a press briefing held on Thursday at 11:00 am, the Chair, Satya Nandan noted the global marine fisheries crises which precipitated this Conference and remarked upon the progress achieved. He characterized the enforcement provisions as the most important aspect, and explained that Parties to this Agreement and to regional management organizations now have the right to board and inspect as well as to deter States that are not Parties from activities that undermine conservation and management measures. He said that regional organizations are open, but States wishing to join must have a "real" interest, and that all disputes ought to be subject to compulsory and binding dispute settlement. The Chair also noted that the work done at the Conference has "given some teeth" to regulations for conservation and management, and that this Conference has developed international law within the framework of UNCLOS.

Responding to a question on the Agreement's weak points, the Chair stated that the Conference had achieved far more than originally expected and added that the Conference began with ambitions of a resolution. The Chair was asked to describe the practical effect of the Agreement, and responded that fisheries will no longer be a free-for-all. On the use of force, a "delicate" issue during negotiations, he stated that force should be commensurate with the level of provocation and will be allowed only when there is a threat to the inspector or deliberate obstruction of inspection.

IN THE CORRIDORS: After a night of prolonged informal consultations in Conference Room 5, long after the interpreters had departed, delegates said that consensus finally emerged on all the outstanding issues. This sentiment was re-confirmed early on Thursday morning, when several delegates conceded that "it's all tied up, bar the bow and bunting." Some delegates commented that tired faces were visibly evident on Thursday morning, as delegates admitted that the re-drafting exercise continued for several hours after the conclusion of informal consultations. The Chair's press briefing at 11:30 am, preceded by that of Greenpeace and the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, delayed the start of informal Plenary. Despite the up-beat tone exercised by delegates over their successes, NGOs remain substantially disappointed that the Agreement still does not effectively deal with issues of discards, waste, by-catch, environmentally safe and selective fishing gear. However NGOs take some heart from the inclusion of the precautionary approach concept to fisheries management. NGOs questioned whether transparency will actually work. Several delegates from the smaller developing coastal States acknowledged that the text represents the best deal that could be struck at this time, especially because the DWFNs have advanced considerably on the issue of State cooperation, but said that within a few years the majority of the environmental issues raised by NGOs during the Conference will need global consideration.

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