General Assembly urges action to protect world’s fish stocks

8 December 2006 – Responding to the depletion of fish stocks and degradation of fragile marine habitats in many parts of the world, the United Nations General Assembly today called on States to take immediate action to reverse the situation and protect vulnerable deep sea ecosystems.

Adopting a consensus resolution on sustainable fisheries, the Assembly called on all States to act in a precautionary manner and apply an “ecosystem approach” to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks.

The resolution also expressed the Assembly’s particular concern that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing constituted a serious threat to fish stocks and marine habitats and ecosystems, to the detriment of sustainable fisheries, as well as the food security and the economies of many States, particularly poorer ones.

States were encouraged to take measures to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, and to facilitate mutual assistance to investigations and punishment as needed.

The adoption of the resolution followed a two-day debate on the issue, with nearly three dozen countries participating.

Over half – 52 per cent – of global fish stocks are fully exploited, while overexploited and depleted species have increased from about 10 per cent in the mid 1970s to 24 per cent in 2002, according to a study, ‘Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas’, which was issued jointly by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) earlier this year.

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