UN Fish Stocks Review Conference

Date: May 29, 2010

The Review Conference on the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, was held in New York from 24-28 May 2010

The DSCC made a number of interventions during the course of the meeting as follows:

May 28 – Final

Mr. Chair.  This intervention is being delivered on behalf of over 60 NGOs including Greenpeace, DSCC, WWF and Pew.

We are encouraged that this room seems to agree that a continuing process for review is necessary.  This has been a very useful week. We need to build on it.

For this reason we urge that it should be continued. We certainly join other delegations in urging ongoing flexibility. The world’s oceans are not improving – far from it- we heard that clearly earlier this week. Adverse developments are in many ways speeding up. The developments in the gulf reminds us of that.  Pressures from pollution, climate change, overfishing, new activities and developments can all give rise to the need and as Panama said there are new regional developments.

It is hard enough for governance to keep up as it is. It is critical to continuing to strengthen the implementation of one of the core elements of international fisheries governance, at a time when we all know the need to strengthen that governance remains very real. It would be much harder we believe if the conference is closed.

We also urge to suggest another meeting earlier rather than later. We would suggest two or at the most three years. We are aware of the proliferation of meetings, but we are also aware that this is the ONLY opportunity for parties to meet, both in plenary, and in informal session, and we are fortunate, as NZ has reminded us, to have the facilities of the UN here in NY.

It is also critical to do this as a meeting of the FSA, since it is under this Agreement that RFMOs derive their mandate and operate. The regular reviews alone show this clearly. While we are here, together, let us not waste the opportunity to endorse the necessity to continue this dialogue. We therefore do endorse the suggestions of Norway, Argentina and others to suspend and issue a clear recommendation to the General Assembly.

May 26 – Afternoon

Thank you Mr Chair for this opportunity to make some comments on clusters 3 and 4 for Greenpeace and DSCC.

I discussed compliance and enforcement yesterday. With respect to transshipment: paragraph 43(c) of the 2006 recommendations does not, in our view, go far enough and I encourage delegates to look at it afresh. Transshipment at sea, is an enormous asset to IUU fishers. Vessels flagged to non-Party states launder IUU catches at sea, evading port State controls and robbing coastal States of their fish and income, and then the fish enter distant ports and markets. Regulation has proven to be patchy, dependent on participation by flag States, including flags of non-compliance, and easy to evade. We believe that it is essential to prohibit it for this reason.

Otherwise we would take this opportunity to list essential measures in this cluster including:

  • the establishment of a global record of fishing vessels as a matter of priority;
  • centralized tamper proof VMS coverage;
  • a harmonized catch documentation scheme;
  • increased ratification of the Port State Agreement;
  • with respect to the MCS network, not just status quo refunding of the network but significant expansion, perhaps to be based on levies paid by commercial fishing vessels operating within RFMOs, and/or possibly through regional arrangements such as for instance the FFA arrangement in the Pacific.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to echo Canada’s suggestion of the inclusion of a specific reference to the need to take climate change and ocean acidification into account when managing fisheries activities. Given the potential and known effect of these effects on vulnerable marine ecosystems such as deep sea coral, this is a very worthwhile suggestion.   This also reinforces the calls made at this meeting for area based measures which are a known response to climate change and its attendant stressors and to build resilience.

May 26 – Morning

Mr Chair. Our comments are directed at clusters 1 and 2. First I would like to make a brief observation about assessments, and then address reviews and area based measures.


I will not repeat the comments of NRDC and endorse those comments with respect to assessments. But I do want to observe that article 5 of the Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA) specifically provides that coastal and fishing States must under paragraph (d) assess the impacts of fishing. Those words are crystal clear and binding on all parties. States must also protect biodiversity in the marine environment under paragraph (g).

Our mandate under article 36 is to review and assess the adequacy of the provisions of this Agreement, which must include paragraph (d), and, if necessary, propose means of strengthening the substance and methods of implementation of those provisions in order better to address any continuing problems. NRDC has clearly explained those problems of which we are all aware.

Greenpeace and DSCC therefore reaffirm our earlier comments this week and support the comments by NRDC with respect to assessments and the need for this conference to strengthen the substance and methods of implementation of article 5(d).

Performance Reviews

We would now like to turn our attention to performance reviews. While five have been carried out, more than a dozen have not. Nor is there any move by those that have carried out reviews to repeat the reviews. We suggest that reviews should be carried out every five years.

To address these issues, we urge that the Review Conference recommends that the UN General Assembly includes in the 2010 annual Fisheries Resolution a call for

  1. A deadline of 30 September 2011 for all RFMOs to complete initial performance reviews and submit them to the UNGA. The US suggested 2012. It should certainly not be later than that.
  2. Development of uniform criteria and process requirements to ensure consistency, independence and comparability between performance reviews by the end of 2011;
  3. Development of a systemic process to ensure implementation of recommendations made by reviews.
  4. An annual process for reviewing, with input from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the performance of RFMOs based on the RFMO performance reviews and other information during the annual UNGA Fisheries Resolution negotiations, such as during a session in September.
  5. Reviews should be regular and we suggest should be repeated every 5 years and we support the US and Australian suggestions in this regard.
  6. Focused attention to reviewing the implementation of UN GA resolutions 61/105 and 64/72 with respect to deep-sea fisheries in the high seas. The resumed Review Conference should acknowledge the fact that most deep sea fishing nations are members of this Agreement and place particular emphasis on the effective implementation of the provisions of the sustainable fisheries resolutions by Parties to the FSA.


Support comments on capacity and urge that the Review Conference recommends that all RFMOs ensure that capacity in fisheries under their management is reduced to sustainable levels commensurate with fishing mortality rates assessed taking into account the precautionary approach.

Area Based Measures

Finally, turning to area based measures. We discussed in our earlier intervention the reasons for these as have other delegations, and we believe these have been fully canvassed and are well understood. We particularly support the EC and Australian proposals in this regard.

We therefore urge that the Review Conference recommends that the UNGA 2010 annual Fisheries Resolution call on all RFMOs to identify and establish high seas marine protected areas using the internationally agreed CBD Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area criteria and network guidance no later than 2012 in order to meet the WSSD target and the goals laid out in 2009 UNGA Oceans Resolution 64/71 and paragraph 15 of the Manado Declaration.  Specific deadlines and a mandate to establish MPAs, (as opposed to develop tools for them) would help strengthen the language agreed to in the 2006 Review Conference (para 18(e)).

Develop management tools, including closed areas, marine protected areas and marine reserves and criteria for their implementation, to effectively conserve and manage straddling fish stocks, highly migratory fish stocks and high-seas discrete stocks and protect habitats, marine biodiversity and vulnerable marine ecosystems, on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the best available scientific information, the precautionary approach and international law.

May 25 – Opening

A few words, Mr Chair, before lunch, on Compliance and Enforcement in regional fisheries management

One of the useful recommendations from the 2006 meeting was the establishment of a global register of fishing vessels, including reefers, under paragraph 43 (l). We welcome interventions by Australia and IUCN this morning in this regard.

The FAO expert consultation in 2008 and discussion in COFI last year was welcome but the warning expressed by COFI last year that the work to establish a global record may be endangered by the shortage of funds is of real concern. We note that it is now 4 years after our 2006 recommendation.

We suggest that this meeting should recommend that the global register be established as a matter of urgency and in any case by the end of 2010.

Other essential measures include 100% centralised tamper proof VMS coverage, with only minor exemptions for small scale fishing vessels fishing in their own national waters, 100% independent observer coverage on board all large scale fishing vessels, coupled with enhanced international boarding and inspection schemes, and a harmonised catch documentation scheme that can distinguish between authorised catch and IUU catch. Domestic legislation should prohibit importing, exporting and trading in IUU caught fish, trade with blacklisted vessels, and should discourage banks, insurers, re-suppliers and other services from dealing with IUU vessels.

All States should of course ratify the FAO Port State Agreement as soon as possible.

Finally we encourage adequate re-funding of the MCS Network and call on all States to increase their contributions and to participate actively in the network.