Report of the Eighth round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the Fish Stocks Agreement

Date: March 24, 2009

Last week, from March 16-19 at UN headquarter in New York, the meeting of the eighth round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA) took place. At the meeting, there were over 200 representatives from governments as well as participation on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Greenpeace. In particular, the meeting focused on wider participation by governments as signatories to the FSA, as well as planning and structure for the upcoming resumption of the Fish Stocks Review Conference, which was agreed to take place from 24-28 May 2010; the next States Parties meeting will take place 15-19 March 2010.

The first two days of the meeting were centered around panel presentations, moderated by Joji Morashita, Government of Japan, on the following issues: (i) Promoting a wider participation in the Agreement (Erik Molenaar); (ii) relationship between the Agreement and the Convention (Satya Nandan); (iii) capacity-Building (Fabio Hazan – Brazil, Terje Lobach – Norway, David Doulman – FAO); (iv) compatibility of conservation and management measures (Johanne Fischer – NAFO, Driss Meski – ICCAT); and (v) cooperation in enforcement and port State measures (Satya-Nandan, Kjartan Hoydal, NEAFC).

During the panel discussion on wider participation, Matthew Gianni made interventions on behalf of the DSCC/NRDC reiterating the importance of the fish stocks agreement, and called on fishing States and flag States to demonstrate good international standards for fisheries management, and that joining and agreeing to FSA provision are indicative of good global citizenship; further, that implementation of UN GA Resolution 61/105 should be viewed as a test case on how willing governments are to fully implement its terms. In addition to the review of UN GA 61/105 taking place later in the year, the DSCC also suggested that it be placed on the agenda for Fish Stocks Review Conference as a discussion on one of the focal points — implementation.

During the plenary sessions chaired by David Balton (United States), Canada noted the importance of the ecosystem approach as well issues such as “legalized overfishing.” The DSCC/NRDC also supported New Zealand on the issue of international accountability of states and RFMOs and highlighted the need for assessment of flag state performance. IUCN, supported by the DSCC, suggested reviewing RFMO performance as well as the importance of stock status assessment, and the inclusion of discrete high seas stocks. Australia noted that implementation and port state measures should also be considered.

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was proposed that the Secretary General convene informal consultations to prepare for the Review Conference and that the advanced version of its comprehensive report be issued by DOALOS in January 2010.

During closing remarks of the plenary, Chair Balton called on governments to send their responses to the DOALOS/FAO questionnaire requesting information on sustainable fisheries, in accordance with UN GA resolution 61/105, by the deadline of 30 April 2009. He noted that submissions would inform the preparation of the Secretary-General’s report for submission to the sixty-fourth session of the UN General Assembly, taking place later in the year.

For a more detailed summary of the meeting, see link to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin,