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Treaty to Halt Over-fishing of Oceans Takes Effect

11 December 2001– It was negotiated six years ago, but an agreement to promote the preservation and conservation of deep-sea fisheries has finally taken effect today.

The Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks took effect today, 30 days after the 30th country ratified or acceded to the treaty. Malta's ratification on 11 November ensured that the Treaty would become international law.

The Treaty is a direct outcome of the 1992 Earth Summit, which called for countries to convene a conference that would promote implementation of the Law of the Sea on provision relating to straddling fish stocks. A conference was held in 1995 and the agreement, which relies heavily on voluntary measures, was agreed upon.

With over-fishing and an over-abundance of fishing fleet capacity decimating fisheries, the Treaty calls for countries to work through regional fisheries to set fishing levels. It requires countries to adopt the precautionary approach to fisheries exploitation and grants port countries certain powers to enforce and safeguard proper management of fisheries resources.

Satya N. Nandan, now Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, was Fiji's Ambassador to the United Nations when he presided over the Fish Stocks Conference, called the Treaty "far-sighted, far-reaching, bold and revolutionary." Nandan said the agreement calls for conservation and management, enforcement and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

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24 August 2006