|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
77th Meeting (PM)*
GENERAL ASSEMBLY REAFFIRMS IMPORTANCE OF LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY
OF MARINE RESOURCES, ADOPTING 13-PART CONSENSUS TEXT
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing; Compliance and Enforcement;
Regional Fisheries Management Organizations among Wide Range of Issues Addressed
Reaffirming the importance of the long-term sustainability of marine resources, and the obligation of States to cooperate to that end, the General Assembly today urged strengthening existing regional fisheries management organizations, and considering the development of a global register of fishing vessels to better counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
With the adoption of a 13-part consensus resolution on sustainable fisheries, the Assembly capped its two-day annual joint debate on matters related to oceans and the Law of the Sea, including sustainable fisheries. The Assembly decided to postpone action on the omnibus resolution on oceans and Law of the Sea to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to determine its budget implications.
By today’s fisheries text, the Assembly called on States, directly or through regional fisheries management organizations, to widely apply the precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks, including straddling fish stocks, highly migratory fish stocks and discrete high seas fish stocks. It also called on States party to the Fish Stocks Agreement to fully implement article 6 relating to the precautionary approach as a matter of priority.
The Assembly also urged countries to take effective measures at national, regional and global levels to deter activities -– including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing -- of any vessel which undermined conservation and management measures adopted by regional and subregional fisheries organizations. It further called on States to prohibit flagged vessels from engaging in fishing on the high seas or in areas under the national jurisdiction of other States, unless duly authorized.
In the area of monitoring and enforcement, the Assembly urged enhanced coordination among all relevant States and regional fisheries management organizations, and encouraged further work by international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, to develop guidelines on flag State control of fishing vessels. To address fishing overcapacity, the Assembly called on States to urgently reduce fishing fleets to levels commensurate with the sustainability of fish stocks, notably by establishing target levels and plans for ongoing capacity assessment.
In the afternoon’s discussion, Harlan Cohen, speaking on behalf of the International Organization for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, said the biggest threat to the marine environment and its ecosystems was from poorly regulated fishing, and States must use existing tools more efficiently to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated activities.
In that context, he said sharks were particularly susceptible. Stocks had declined by 90 per cent of the estimated original biomass, and his organization was concerned that such a trend could have an impact on broader ecosystem functions. At the top of the food chain, sharks regulated the “web of interdependent ocean life”. He urged regional fisheries management organizations to take on greater responsibility for ensuring that the International Plan of Action for Sharks was properly implemented, and called on those that had not yet done so to introduce “finning” ban regulations, which required sharks to be “landed” with their fins naturally attached. To “build resilience” into ocean ecosystems, he urged States to establish networks of marine protected areas. For areas beyond national jurisdiction, States, through regional fisheries management organizations, should establish marine reserves.
K. Bhagwat-Singh, Permanent Observer of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, said the greatest challenge posed to oceans was climate disruption on an unprecedented scale. To address its serious effects, he urged States to consider developing new systems for integrated coastal zone management, to be implemented through national legislation. Such policies would protect the marine environment and rejuvenate fish stocks.
He also said State parties should consider providing appropriate funding to States, notably to island and coastal States that lacked enough resources, to help them mitigate climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise. As countries most vulnerable to climate change often were the least equipped to deal with its negative effects, developed nations should help them create financial and other mechanisms to protect the marine environment. He also urged State cooperation to develop observation, forecasting and warning programmes for climate change, as well as those for training and technical assistance. Such work should be done with increasing coordination at the agency, subregional, regional and global levels.
Also speaking were the representatives of Kuwait, Japan, Palau, New Zealand, Russian Federation, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Nigeria.
The representatives of Venezuela, Turkey and Argentina also spoke in explanation of position.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Australia and Singapore.
The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m., Wednesday, 19 December, to take up the reports of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial).
The General Assembly met this afternoon to conclude its joint debate on oceans and the law of the sea. For more information, please see Press Release GA/10670 of 10 December.
ABDULMUHSEEN AL SAEED ( Kuwait) said his country attached great importance to the issue of oceans and the law of the sea. He welcomed the States that recently acceded to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, bringing the number of States parties to 153. He called on States that had not done so to accede to the Convention.
He also commended visible progress in the activities of all bodies established pursuant to the Convention, including the International Seabed Authority, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, among others. Adequate management and preservation of marine resources could be done only through building the capacities of developing countries, including through technology transfer. He called for improved coordination at all levels to address all aspects in a comprehensive manner.
Calling on States to continue to consolidate measures in protecting biodiversity from the impacts of climate change, he said Kuwait had acceded to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and was a party to the Protocol on Marine Pollution resulting from the exploration and exploitation of the Continental Shelf. Further, Kuwait was the headquarters of the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment. The country had also carried out a programme on that topic with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He called on States to cooperate in the preservation of marine resources, particularly by adhering to international conventions.
JIRO KODERA ( Japan) said the Japanese Diet in April had enacted the Basic Act on Ocean Policy, which took effect in July, and the Headquarters for Ocean Policy, headed by the Prime Minister, had also been established. With such a new structure in place, Japan would seriously address ocean-related challenges in cooperation with the global community. Noting that Japan had filed two cases in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the prompt release of vessels, he said Japan would continue to support the Tribunal’s invaluable work, as it valued its critical role in peaceful dispute settlement.
Regarding the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he said that, to speed its work, Japan had contributed $205,000 in March to the voluntary trust fund and would make an additional contribution by year-end. While Japan recognized the need to strengthen the Commission, efforts should be made within overall existing budget levels. It was regrettable that budgetary implications had been attached in some of the resolution’s operative paragraphs, and he strongly requested the Commission itself to increase its efficiency.
On marine genetic resources, he said they held great potential for developing medicines, and the global community should promote research in that area. Genetic resources found on the high seas and in the deep seabed were not regulated under Part XI of the Convention, as they were not mineral resources, and he hoped the informal working group on marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction would be productive in that regard.
On the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, Japan highly appreciated the launch of the Information Sharing Centre. Japan was committed to realizing safe and secure waters in Asia by implementing the Agreement, and directly assisting the Centre. Also, the cooperation mechanism, created in September at the Singapore meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, was groundbreaking insofar as it represented the first realization of cooperation in maintaining an international strait. Japan would continue to cooperate, in that regard.
He regretted that this year’s resolution did not reaffirm the right of transit passage through straits used for international navigation, and was very concerned that some States had adopted laws, such as compulsory pilotage, which restrained that right. On the transport of radioactive materials, Japan regretted that the resolution did not reflect the spirit of cooperation between coastal and shipping States. Dialogue had developed in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
STUART BECK ( Palau) said the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization had galvanized efforts to eliminate the unsustainable practice of sea bottom trawling, and he encouraged all regional fisheries management organizations and flag States to follow the example. The North Pacific contained a number of the best fisheries in the world, but their survival depended on the continued health of the marine ecosystems that supported them. While those vast ecosystems fell under the jurisdiction of many Pacific States, they were interconnected and no individual State could adequately ensure their protection. The countries and territories of the Federated States of Micronesia had joined together to create the Micronesia Challenge, a network of marine protected areas that would conserve 30 per cent of the region’s near-shore marine and 20 per cent of its land resources by 2020. The first of its kind in the world, the network covered 6.7 million square miles of ocean and would help protect 10 per cent of the world’s coral reefs, including 60 threatened species. By linking and integrating domestic efforts, the Challenge represented a true ecosystem approach to marine protection, he said.
Eliminating bottom trawling and establishing protected areas were imperative for the continued viability of oceans, he said. Actions would be fruitless unless rapid progress on climate change was made at the international level. Coral reefs played a vital role in marine ecosystems and in the economies and food security of many small island developing States and coastal developing States, including Palau. If ocean acidification proceeded as predicted, it would have devastating environmental and human impacts. Palau urged States to continue to address such critically important issues in future resolutions.
KIRSTY GRAHAM ( New Zealand), giving full support to the statement made on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said a number of important crosscutting oceans and fisheries issues had been tackled in the context of these resolutions. Her delegation continued to value the United Nations Informal Consultative process on Oceans and Law of the Sea, under the auspices of which the international community had considered a wide range of important issues. In this, it also looked forward to next year’s discussions on maritime safety and security.
Noting that the challenge of conserving and managing marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction would be a major issue on the 2008 oceans agenda, she stressed her delegation’s strong support for the United Nations role in considering the topic within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It was essential to identify and address any governance gaps and to improve the implementation of existing obligations where necessary. Saying her country had been pleased to make its submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2006, she added that it recognized the need of the Commission’s processes to operate efficiently and effectively. New Zealand, therefore, supported calls to strengthen the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. It also welcomed the greater responsiveness of the oceans resolution to the significant and growing concerns relating to climate change and ocean acidification.
She said her delegation also strongly supported the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and encouraged States to continue to take full account of the consensus outcomes agreed at the 2006 Review Conference. Recent events had shown the important role the General Assembly could play in encouraging the development and implementation of necessary conservation and management measures by regional fisheries management organizations. Her delegation strongly supported the inclusion of measures to reduce the impact of bottom fishing in last year’s fisheries resolution and welcomed the call for the full implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Plan of Action in this year’s resolution. Given the uneven performance of these regional organizations, it was useful for the Assembly to encourage their work.
Her country looked forward to the conclusion of negotiations to establish a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, she said. It also fully supported the sustainable fisheries resolution’s encouragement that States exercise voluntary restraint of fishing effort levels in areas coming under the regulation of future regional management organizations. In addition, her country had a significant and ongoing concern with the negative impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which undermined the conservation and management measures adopted by regional fisheries management organizations and, ultimately, the sustainability of fish stocks. Given that, she said her delegation supported further consideration of those illegal practices in the context, for example, of the Informal Consultative Process.
ANN LYUBALINA ( Russian Federation) called for States that had not yet done so to become parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It was her delegation’s view that the activities on the oceans should be carried out in light of the Convention’s provisions, including the freedom of navigation of the seas and peaceful transit and passage, among others. In addition, the work of the regional fisheries management organizations should be carried out in the context of the provisions of regional States. Where these regional organizations did not exist, States should take voluntary measures that should, in turn, be based on scientific information. That voluntary curbing should also be resolved in each region based on information on regional fish stocks. Her delegation emphasized efforts to create those regional management organizations in the South and North of the Pacific.
Turning to the agreement on the implementation on the Convention’s provisions on straddling fish stocks, she welcomed the recent accession of States to the agreement and called for those not yet parties to it to become so. Noting the important work carried out by the various ocean-related organs that existed under the Convention of the Law of the Sea, she said that it might be excessive to trust to the International Seabed Authority the work of creating a regime for all solid, liquid and gas particles in the seabed’s soil. Still, her delegation advocated the provision of adequate resources for the uninterrupted implementation of the Authority’s mandate. It also called for more active cooperation between States that had made their submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
She welcomed the work of the Intentional Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in regulating disputes. In terms of the annual meeting, her delegation emphasized the importance of resolving issues of management at that time. Among other tasks related to the important functioning of the Commission, judges should be chosen. Her delegation believed that further discussions on the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction would be valuable and useful. The meeting was also a useful forum for considering and debating important ocean-related issues.
Noting the Russian Federation’s support for the draft resolutions on the Law Of The Sea and sustainable fisheries, she expressed concerns on the omnibus resolution, saying that its breadth risked lessening the impact of the resolution’s essential endeavours, particularly by including narrow provisions found in other ocean-related provisions from other organs.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE ( Philippines) said that the rightly heralded Law of the Sea Convention was a carefully balanced document of rights and obligations that established a legal order that guaranteed and safeguarded the exercise of rights and observances, as well as performance of obligations under its regime. As a maritime nation and an archipelago with some 7,000 islands that relied heavily on oceans for its economic growth and development, the Philippines strongly believed in a just, fair and equitable regime for its waters.
To that end, his Government kept a close eye on the ongoing developments related to the Law of the Sea, including through the decisions of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. The Philippines was also eagerly awaiting the decision of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and looked forward to the eighteenth meeting of States Parties to the Convention next year. Progress at that meeting would be proof of the readiness of States parties to assume new, and definitely more challenging, roles towards the universal application –- and interpretation, if necessary -– of the Convention.
He went on to say that, while the relevant Secretary-General’s reports highlighted cooperation between States on the interrelated challenges, problems still existed. Marine pollution and destructive fishing methods continued to threaten the fragile ocean environment, and piracy remained a threat to the safety of navigation. Other crimes also threatened the security of States. The Convention regime continually challenged States to govern their use and management of marine resources. With that in mind, the Philippines welcomed the convening next year of the Ad Hoc Informal Open-Ended Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) said his country attached great importance to a coherent, integrated and equitable approach to the sustainable management and conservation of the oceans and their resources, in accordance with the Convention on the Law of the Sea. The International Seabed Authority, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf had been important to the Convention’s implementation, and his country had actively participated in their work.
As the world was troubled by piracy and degradation of marine resources, the Republic of Korea was pleased that the Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea would focus on maritime security and safety next year. As a leading maritime country, the Republic of Korea believed that States should uphold the right of passage, reaffirming the rights of States bordering straits used for international navigation on one hand, and those of user States on the other. All States parties should cooperate to preserve the integrity of the Convention against measures inconsistent with it.
Regarding marine biodiversity beyond national boundaries, he said his Government attached great importance to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, and hoped that future discussions would take place within the framework of the Convention, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Seriously concerned by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, he said his country would work with other States parties in effective measures to prevent, deter and eliminate those fishing practices. He also hoped States would adopt and implement measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, and stressed the important role of FAO and regional fisheries management organizations in that regard. Noting that States had long worked together to ensure safe transport and sustainable use of marine resources, he said the United Nations had been a vital forum for constructive dialogue on such issues.
ABDUL AZEEZ ( Sri Lanka) said that global development, especially environmental imperatives and demands for resource exploration, had had considerable impact on the shaping of international Law of the Sea. That had chiefly been because of technological advances. At the same time, the diversity of interests incorporated in the Law of the Sea Convention remained a “viable and judicious mix”, giving all States parties an important stake in the Law of the Sea. On the draft texts before the Assembly, he said that the omnibus resolution on “Law of the Sea” had become a complex and interpretive instrument. Over the years, the annual draft had evolved, and had been continuously refined and clarified to translate some conceptual ideas into norms and standards.
Turning to national concerns, he said that Sri Lanka was heir to rich biological diversity and, therefore, believed it was critical to promote understanding and cooperation in relevant emerging fields such as marine genetic resources. Sri Lanka believed that the Convention on Biological Diversity was built on the concept of equitable benefit sharing. Costal States had rights, as appropriate, with respect to resources, including marine genetic resources and all related activities in areas within national jurisdiction.
The legal regime on such resources must be harmonized with the principles of international law, especially the Convention. He said that the compromise reached on the protection and use of marine genetic resources in the omnibus resolution before the Assembly had been important, although it did not address all the concerns of some developing countries. Turning to the draft on sustainable fisheries, he said that, among other things, that text drew attention to important issues, such as the capacity-building needs of developing countries, including in the area of management and development of scientific data.
He went on to say that both texts contained many elements important to his Government, including international navigation by coastal States bordering straits. Under the Convention, the measures regulated and practices introduced by costal States should not have a discriminatory, restrictive effect on the international navigation or transit passage of foreign ships using such straits. Sri Lanka would call for all such practices to be revoked, especially since they violated the letter and spirit of the Convention. Another area of interest was the scope of the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
Sri Lanka had already completed its seismic survey and was currently in the process of analysing scientific data ahead of preparing its claim for submission to the Commission before 9 May 2009. However, Sri Lanka was conscious that countries were in various stages of development and might not be able to complete their work early enough to meet the submission deadline. Further, it was necessary to boost the capacity of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea to effectively service the Commission and to carry out and complement capacity-building and training courses executed by the Division that were most important to developing countries. Sri Lanka believed that the current omnibus draft resolution took those concerns into account.
IFEYINWA ANGELA NWORGU (Nigeria), noting that 2007 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, said this “constitution of the oceans” could be said to have attained universal significance. Thus, nothing should be done to detract from the importance the international community attached to this crucial Convention. Rather, it should be strengthened through complete adherence to its provisions. The need for adherence included provisions regarding the principle of freedom of navigation and the rights of innocent passage and transit passage. As article 42 of the Convention stated, the laws and regulations adopted by States bordering straits should not “have the practical effect of denying, hampering or impairing the right of transit passage”. This was pertinent to preserve the delicate balance in the Convention between the interests of coastal States and of user States. Port States should also exercise sovereignty in managing their ports, thus preserving the Convention’s sanctity.
He said his delegation considered this adherence as critical, particularly since 85 to 90 per cent of global trade was conducted using the oceans. Thus, Nigeria had been consistently calling for respect of, and adherence to, the Convention and underscored the urgent need for the safety and security of the oceans to be considered. His delegation was pleased that the United Nations Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process meeting would take up maritime security and safety next year. It was also happy that the international community was actively engaged in combating acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships as concerted effort was necessary to tackle this and other problems such as the environmental degradation of the oceans and seas and climate change.
BHAGWAT-SING, Permanent Observer of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, said his organization had fostered international cooperation on ocean matters, and viewed oceans as a critical element in the global ecosystem, providing countless vital resources and helping to regulate climate. While the Convention had addressed many difficulties over the past 25 years, the oceans today were confronted with the greatest challenge yet: climate disruption on an unprecedented scale.
To address the serious effects of climate change on oceans, he urged States to consider three types of measures, including the development of new systems for integrated coastal zone management policies. States should implement such policies through national legislation to protect the marine environment and rejuvenate fish stocks. States should also use General Assembly guidelines in developing such national legislation. States with coastal management should undergo review of those policies to address anticipated effects in their region.
Second, regarding the Trust Fund, he said State parties should consider providing appropriate funding to States, notably to island and coastal States that lacked enough resources, to help them mitigate climate change impacts, such as sea level rise. As States most vulnerable to climate change often were the least equipped to deal with its negative effects, developed States should help them create financial and other mechanisms to protect the marine environment. Moreover, States should cooperate to develop observation, forecasting and warning programmes to address climate change, as well as those for training and technical assistance. Such work should be done with increasing coordination at the agency, subregional, regional and global levels. States had ample opportunity to further the sustainable stewardship and protection of the oceans. To that end, his organization looked forward to the adoption of resolutions on oceans and the Law of the Sea, and on sustainable fisheries.
HARLAN COHEN, speaking on behalf of the International Organization for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, recognized the Convention as the overarching legal framework for high seas governance. Nonetheless, more must be done to fully implement its provisions. The greatest threat to the marine environment and ecosystems was derived from poorly regulated fishing, and States must use existing tools more efficiently to counter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and other activities.
Sharks were highly targeted in today’s fisheries, and more vulnerable to depletion than other stocks, he said. Indeed, shark stocks had declined by 90 per cent of the estimated original biomass, according to scientists, and his organization was concerned that such a trend could have an impact on broader ecosystem functions. At the top of the food chain, they regulated the “web of interdependent ocean life”. However, as they were previously of little commercial value, regional fisheries management organizations paid little attention to them, and that must change.
Urging States to develop national programmes of action for their conservation and sustainable use, he noted a lack of action by some major shark fishing nations, and urged regional fisheries management organizations to take on greater responsibility for ensuring that the International Plan of Action for Sharks was properly implemented. He urged States and regional fisheries management organizations that had not done so to introduce “finning” ban regulations, which required sharks to be “landed” with their fins naturally attached.
International management of ocean resources was often incomplete, he continued. Calling on States to strengthen existing regional fisheries management organizations, promote an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and apply the precautionary principle, he also urged States to work through regional fisheries management organizations to institute rigorous performance reviews. On ecosystem management, he urged attention to the impact of fishing on ecosystems, and welcomed steps taken to protect areas with vulnerable ecosystems. Further, he looked forward to the adoption, through FAO, of the draft International Guidelines for the Management of Deep Sea Fisheries, and welcomed the decision, within FAO, to consider developing a global register of fishing vessels to better counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
As the greatest threat to the health of oceans was unsustainable fishing, he urged taking steps to “build resilience” into ocean ecosystems, notably by establishing networks of marine protected areas. For areas beyond national jurisdiction, States, through regional fisheries management organizations, should establish marine reserves. For areas with “special values”, States should work through the International Maritime Organization to establish special areas to regulate shipping.
At the same time, proposals to mitigate carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere by transferring it to the ocean should be strictly examined, in line with the Convention, the London Convention and the London Protocol, to ensure they did not harm the marine environment, he said. States should ensure that the benefits of ocean fertilization for mitigating climate change outweighed the risks. They should also ensure that measurable, long-term carbon dioxide sequestration took place, and that it could be independently verified and regulated.
Noting that his organization had participated in the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea on marine genetic resources, he welcomed the decision to hold a meeting in the coming year of the ad hoc Working Group on Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. He urged all States to take decisive steps to improve the health of oceans, immediately regulate actions of their nationals on the high seas, and monitor their compliance with applicable laws. Drawing on regional and national practice, States should require their nationals to: provide them with prior notification of all planned activities on the high seas; apply a prior environmental impact assessment procedure; and monitor activities on the high seas in an appropriate manner. In closing, he said such steps might be implemented nationally first, and then applied to various high seas activities on a cross-sectoral basis.
The Chair informed the Assembly that action on the omnibus resolution on the oceans and the Law of the Sea (document A/62/L.27) had been postponed, as the programme budget implications were not yet available. Action on that resolution would be taken once the Fifth Committee’s report on those budget implications was completed.
Explanation of Position before the Vote
Taking the floor in explanation of position on the sustainable fisheries draft text, the representative of Venezuela underscored the fact that the question of sustainable fisheries was a priority area for Venezuela. Thus, it had undertaken a number of initiatives and programmes to manage fish stocks within the norms established in the relevant fisheries laws. In applying those laws, it had made every effort to harmonize its provisions with those of other countries in the region, particularly in regard to highly migratory and straddling fish stocks.
Yet, Venezuela was not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, including this agreement on the implementation of that Convention’s provisions, she said. Nor did it apply those norms. While some said Venezuela should, or would in the future, recognize those provisions by incorporating them into its national legislation, the reasons it had not yet done so still existed. Her delegation would not stand in the way of consensus. But, notwithstanding that fact, it upheld its opposition to the Law of the Sea Convention, and had this been prompted to make an express exception to its provisions.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on sustainable fisheries (document A/62/L.24) by consensus.
After action, the representative of Turkey stated her country’s full commitment to the protection, conservation, management and sustainable use of marine living resources and attached great importance to regional cooperation to those ends. On that basis, Turkey supported the resolution. It disassociated itself, however, from the references made in the resolution to the international instruments it was not party to. Those references should not be interpreted as a change in Turkey’s legal position with regard to those instruments.
The representative of Argentina said that his delegation joined consensus on the text just adopted, but he stressed that none of the elements in the text on the Fish Stocks Agreement could be construed to mean they were binding on States that had not expressly given their consent to be bound by that treaty.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Australia said that his delegation disagreed with Singapore’s earlier statement on Australia’s laws pertaining to transit in international straits. Australia had enacted measures to provide safety of navigation and environmental safety of the Torres Strait (which lies between Australia, Singapore and Papua New Guinea), which were necessary to allow safe and expeditious travel through treacherous waters. Those measures were governed by international law.
Australia would rebut the assertion that its system of pilotage was contrary to international law. The measures had been endorsed by the International Maritime Organization. Moreover, Australia was disappointed that the issue had been raised in the Assembly, especially after it had worked with other delegations during negotiations on the current text to arrive at agreed language.
In response, the representative of Singapore said that his delegation disagreed with Australia’s assertions about that country’s measures, which actually imposed compulsory pilotage as a means of providing safety of navigation. Indeed, while Australia required all transit vessels to take a pilot on board, Singapore believed that Strait was a waterway used for international navigation and, under part 3 of the Convention, all ships transiting through such straits should enjoy the right of transit passage.
Australia believed that its decision had the support of the International Maritime Organization, he said, but it actually went beyond what was required under the Convention. Under the Convention, although they could adopt laws and regulations relating to transit through those straits, States bordering such areas must comply with generally accepted practices of navigation, including regulations set by the International Maritime Organization. Requiring a vessel to take a pilot onboard, which Australia would enforce by law, went above and beyond the Convention.
He added that Singapore and other nations had raised those concerns during the negotiations on the text, but offers for compromise language had been rejected. That had shown that there was a significant divide on interpretation of the Convention on certain issues. At the same time, even though Australia continued to operate its system of compulsory pilotage in the Torres Strait, Singapore was willing to continue bilateral talks. Still, he cautioned against any compromise language that might undermine the Convention.
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