30 May 2000
PRESS CONFERENCE ON OCEAN AFFAIRS
An integrated international policy on ocean affairs was the goal of the informal
consultative process convening at Headquarter this week, correspondents were
told this afternoon at a Headquarters press conference.
Alan Simcock, head of the Marine, Land and Liability Division of the
Department of Environment, Transport and Regions (United Kingdom) briefed
correspondents on the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on
Ocean Affairs, which has been set up as a result of a recommendation by the
Commission on Sustainable Development.
Mr. Simcock said it had become clear at last year’s Commission session that
there was an inadequate method for pulling together all the various strands of
work in the international community on ocean affairs. The many United Nations
agencies and other international bodies working on the ocean tended to work
within their own closed spheres and had no holistic view of the problems of the
In 1992, when the international community adopted Agenda 21, the action plan
of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), it
stressed the importance of an integrated approach to ocean policy at the
national level. Now, the international community was attempting to do the same
by creating an integrated approach at the international level. The Open-ended
Consultative Process was the start of a long haul in trying to get that
integrated policy, he said.
The Consultative Process would have three tasks in particular, he continued.
The first was to discuss how to build upon the Secretary-General’s annual
report on oceans, which basically took a synoptic view and left open the
question of what should be done. The Group would try to answer that question.
The second was to determine how to move from the present situation -- in which
there was so much illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing -- to the full
implementation of the code of conduct for responsible fisheries developed by the
Food and Agriculture Organization. Also, the Process would discuss how to
implement the global programme of action on land-based pollution of the sea,
which accounted for over 80 per cent of global ocean pollution. The Process
would look to see if it was possible to find cleaner ways of production and
prevent industrial pollution and better measures against ship disasters. The
third task would be to put all the information together into proposals that the
General Assembly could adopt.
The whole purpose of the exercise, he said, was to better prepare the
Assembly in determining how to move forward on the oceans. In that context, the
Consultative Process would examine a proposal by China to tackle piracy,
especially in the western Pacific. China had called for measures to promote
regional cooperation in combating piracy. The Process would discuss how the
United Nations system could help countries afflicted by the plague of piracy and
see what support the international community could give. Also on the agenda was
a proposal by Norway on better managing illegal fishing. There were boats flying
the flag of States that were not able to impose clear regulation of the
fisheries. The Norwegian proposal suggested ways to make it more difficult for
such ships to be traded and, thus, reduce their capital value. The proposal
would be discussed to see if consensus could be found.
Through such practical measures as improving the rules on registration of
fishing vessels, the enforcement of national laws on fishing and promoting
regional cooperation on issues such as piracy, the international community would
see progress in achieving the sustainable management of the world’s oceans, he
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