General Assembly Annual debate on the Oceans

Date: December 5, 2008


On December 4, 2008, the UN General Assembly held its annual joint debate on resolutions related to oceans and the law of the sea and sustainable fisheries. The decisions arising from the debate include a reaffirmation of the importance of Resolution 61/105, adopted by the General Assembly in 2006, calling on States and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) to take urgent action to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems from the impacts of bottom fishing and ensure the sustainable management of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas.

The deadline for implementation of 61/105 is December 31 of this year and in 2009 the UN Secretary General will report on its progress. Governments, such as Australia and Palau, urged all States to submit information in a timely manner to the UN Secretary General to better facilitate the review, by the UN General Assembly in the latter half of 2009, of actions taken by States and RFMOs to implement the resolution. On the basis of the review, the UN General Assembly will consider further recommendations where necessary for actions to be taken by States and RFMOs. The DSCC is continuing its assessment of the implementation of resolution 61/105 to date.

Mathew Gianni said: “It’s not a consistent picture. One or two RFMOs or RFMOs under negotiation have made substantial progress in the implementation of the resolution while many others have not. The reality is that the UN GA resolution will not be fully and effectively implemented by 31 December of this year. The question is – what happens next? High seas fishing nations have committed to prohibiting high seas bottom fishing after the end of this year unless or until they have fully implemented the resolution. The credibility of the UN GA process, and the ability of the international, community to effectively address the threat posed by deep-sea fisheries to biodiversity on the high seas, will largely be determined by whether high seas fishing nations deliver on the commitment they made in 2006 to the international community and the actions taken by the General Assembly where they fail.”