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CRITICAL NEXT STEPS

PROMPT RATIFICATION: Unlike UNCLOS, the Agreement should secure prompt ratification. Coastal States expressed varying proposals as to the appropriate number of instruments of ratification needed for the Agreement to being the process of entry into force. Australia said it could accept a number less than twenty. This would have had some immediate impact in the South Pacific region, because the FFA member States have always stated their preference for a globally binding agreement. Argentina, perhaps one of the more rational Latin American coastal States, indicated that 20 ratifications would be appropriate, while others championed higher numbers. An unusual comment by the US suggested that perhaps 22 might be a sensible number because it has some historical connection to the early development of the high seas fisheries regime. Agreement was struck on 30 ratifications. Prompt ratification is possible especially if one accepts that the coastal States will continue to realize their goal of reducing high seas fishing activities on SFS and HMFS. However, it remains to be seen just how quickly the DWFNs will ratify.

ENTRY INTO FORCE: Thirty days after the 30th instrument of ratification has been deposited the Agreement enters into force. This date could be in early 1996 especially if coastal States remain serious about the legally binding nature of the Agreement. Even assuming such an early entry into force, the bureaucratic structures of subregional and regional organizations will likely substantially delay the Agreement's early effectiveness. Consequently it remains to be seen just how quickly perceived high seas overfishing is reduced, and how quantifiable this will be in the short term.

REVIEW CONFERENCE: The Agreement provides for a review conference four years after the date of entry into force of the Agreement. This will cause for some early assessment of the effectiveness of the Agreement, but four years might be too soon to determine the qualitative adequacy of the Agreement. Should States decide that evidence collected four years after entry into force be insufficient to effectively gauge incremental change in high seas fishing practices, NGOs will contend that governments commitment to high seas fisheries conservation and management lacks seriousness.

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