Statement by DSCC to the 11th meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

23 June 2010

The importance of capacity building cannot be underestimated in relation to the conservation of the oceans and protection of marine biodiversity. While much more needs to be done it is nonetheless it is very encouraging to hear of the many initiatives and projects currently underway to enhance capacity in the panel presentations over the past several days as well as in numerous interventions from delegations and during the side events.

We were pleased to hear much of the discussion center on the need to enhance capacity to implement an ecosystem approach, combat IUU fishing, and protect ocean areas, ecosystems and marine biodiversity as an essential component of capacity building for sustainable development. People with knowledge, expertise and dedication are at heart of this effort. In many cases, including in relation to the high seas, the oceans and the transboundary nature of many of the species, ecosystems, and damage that we inflict on the oceans unite us all in this effort both regionally and globally. In relation to the presentation from Mr. Kruese of the IMCS Network, we hope the report of the meeting will reflect the support expressed for this important initiative from delegations.

As many of you know, the DSCC, of which NRDC is a member organization, has directed much of its efforts over the past few years, (including in many previous sessions of UNICP) to promoting the sustainable management of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas. In this regard, I’d like to take the opportunity to inform delegates that the DSCC will release a new report tomorrow - The Implementation of UNGA Resolutions 61/105 and 64/72 in the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries on the High Seas.

The report, in our view, is the first comprehensive scientific review of the management of deep-sea fishing on the high seas globally. The UN General Assembly resolutions related to the protection of the deep-sea represent a major commitment by the international community to manage these fisheries sustainably within the context of an ecosystem approach or else prohibit the fishing of the deep-sea. Our hope is that the countries that engage in deep-sea fisheries in the high seas fisheries will find the information useful to improve their approach to the management of deep-sea fisheries. At the same time, we hope that the report will help enhance the capacity of those countries that do not engage in deep-sea fishing on the high seas, by far the majority of nations, to evaluate for themselves what has been done to date, and hold the high seas fishing nations accountable to their political commitments and responsibility to the international community.

Finally listening to the last presentation from Mr. Prasmadji of the Coral Triangle Initiative, and his reference to the Coral Triangle as the Amazon of the sea, provoked thinking about the Rio + 20 Conference coming up in 2012. We see the Rio conference as a major opportunity to highlight the important issues and challenges facing the oceans and humanity, particularly as a result of overfishing and climate change, in the context of sustainable development and the survival of marine biodiversity and ecosystems for future generations. We note that the timing of UNICP in 2011 could serve as a timely opportunity to review the oceans related commitments made at the 1992 Earth Summit and the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in preparation for the Rio + 20 Conference to ensure that oceans issues are given the priority they deserve at Rio + 20.