General Assembly Adopts Resolution Aimed at Ensuring Sustainability of World’s Fisheries, as It Holds Annual Debate on UN Regime Protecting Seas, Oceans

6 December 2011
GA/11185

General Assembly Adopts Resolution Aimed at Ensuring Sustainability of World’s Fisheries, as It Holds Annual Debate on UN Regime Protecting Seas, Oceans

6 December 2011
General Assembly
GA/11185
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

75th & 76thMeetings (AM & PM)

General Assembly Adopts Resolution Aimed at Ensuring Sustainability of World’s

Fisheries, as It Holds Annual Debate on UN Regime Protecting Seas, Oceans

 

Postpones Action on Annual Omnibus Text on Law of the Sea; Work of Continental

Shelf Commission, Marine Biodiversity among Issues Highlighted by Some 30 Speakers

In the face of the increasingly devastating scourge of climate change and a global financial crisis that demanded the smarter use of natural resources, delegates in the General Assembly stressed today that urgent action was needed in efforts to sustainably manage the world oceans and marine ecosystems.

To that end, the Assembly today adopted by consensus a resolution on sustainable fisheries, by which it expressed concern over the current and projected negative impacts of climate change on the world’s food security.  It further stated its concern that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishingconstituted a serious threat to fish stocks and marine habitats and ecosystems, putting the economies of many States — particularly developing States, who were frequently the most vulnerable to risks related to climate change and economic crises — in danger.

Focusing on the sustainable management of marine resources, the text called on States to play an active role in global efforts to conserve and sustainably use marine living resources, thereby contributing to marine biological diversity.  Introducing the draft, the representative of the United States said that, by adopting the resolution, the Assembly would also call on regional fisheries management organizations to take measures regarding bottom fishing.

A second resolution — introduced by Brazil, but on which action was postponed — was the Assembly’s annual omnibus text on Oceans and the Law of the Sea.  By its terms, the Assembly would initiate a process to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, which would focus on questions including the sharing of ocean benefits, environmental impact assessments, capacity‑building and the transfer of marine technology, and would identify gaps and ways forward. The text cited next year’s United Nations Conference on Climate Change — also known as “Rio+20” — as a unique opportunity to consider measures to implement internationally agreed goals and commitments on the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment and its resources.

Many of today’s more than 30 speakers stressed that the overlap between challenges facing the “blue” and “green” economies should be prioritized at the Rio+20 Conference.  That event would indeed provide an unprecedented chance to highlight the priorities of ocean conservation and management, they said; and that was especially significant in areas that enjoyed wide support on paper, but had “too often failed to translate into visible change”, such as measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and agreements to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“We can no longer sink commitments deep within obscure paragraphs of distant instruments,” said the representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States.  Those States, who together were comprised of 97 per cent ocean and only 3 per cent land, strongly advocated that the upcoming Rio+20 negotiations direct greater political will towards the well-being of oceans and fisheries, and the need to strengthen the nexus between oceans and sustainable development.

The concept of a blue economy — which some delegates worried was still foreign to people around the world — must be an essential component of that groundbreaking conference, he added.  Agreeing, the representative of Monaco, which had recently hosted the first major international conference on the blue economy, emphasized that maritime issues, including ancillary issues such as food security and tourism, must receive due attention at Rio+20.

Apart from their critical place in the Earth’s biological balance, many speakers emphasized that oceans and seas were crucial to the economic and geopolitical life of nations.  Representatives of small island developing States and other small coastal States — who were most vulnerable to changing conditions in the world’s oceans — expressed deep concern about such issues as over-fishing, ocean acidification, pollution and climate change.  They warned that those increasing challenges threatened their livelihoods, their chances of meeting international development goal targets, and, in some cases, even their very existence.

Moreover, said the delegate from Senegal, under the current global economic and financial circumstances, sustainable marine resource management was essential for all States.  She agreed with other speakers that oceans were critical to global food security, and emphasized, in particular, their major role in global trade.  In that regard, the work of the Open-Ended Informal Working Group towards developing an integrated, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to seas and ocean management represented a major step in the development of that field, she said.  Still other delegations agreed that healthy oceans, their coasts and resources were necessary for global prosperity.

However, several speakers worried that developing countries might lack the necessary resources to take actions in line with new and established global regulatory measures.  In that vein, the representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, called on the international community to take action to ensure that all people could benefit from marine resources equally.  There should be a focus on capacity-building, technical cooperation and assistance to that end, he stressed.  Meanwhile, the delegate from Norway said that, while it was vital to improve implementation of measure, such as those on deep-sea fish stocks, such implementation was demanding for many States.  “We must make sure that we do not end up with a system where only rich countries are able to fish,” he warned.  Norway, for its part, was supporting several African States in their endeavour to establish the outer limits of their continental shelves, which would help them to exercise a larger degree of control over their own resources.  He encouraged all States with available resources to do the same.

The Assembly also heard a report from the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority on recent work, including a summary of new applications for seabed exploration plans.  Further, the President of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea described cases that had come before it over the past year, as well as elections it had held to elect or re-elect its judges.  Among those, it had seen the election of its first female judge, Elsa Kelly of Argentina.

Also speaking today were the representatives of New Zealand (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Honduras, Viet Nam, Egypt, China, Philippines, Japan, Argentina, Canada, Kuwait, Indonesia, Singapore, Mexico, Russian Federation, Cuba, Iceland, Republic of Korea, Venezuela and the Maldives.

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union also addressed the Assembly, as did a representative of the Observer of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

The representative of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Speaking in explanation of position after action on the texts were the representatives of Argentina, Turkey and Venezuela.  The representative of Brazil made a general statement after action.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow to hold its Fifth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development.

Background

For its discussion today, the General Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary‑General on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (document A/66/70).  Prepared pursuant to the request made by the General Assembly in its resolution 65/37 A, the report provides information on environmental impact assessments undertaken with respect to planned activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including capacity‑building needs, on the basis of information requested from States and competent international organizations.  The report also contains information on activities carried out by relevant organizations since the report of the Secretary‑General of 19 October 2009, and provides information on possible options and approaches to promote international cooperation and coordination on key issues and questions where more detailed background studies would facilitate consideration by States of these issues.

Specifically, the report provides information on activities in the areas of marine science and technology; fishing activities and developments related to marine living resources, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as other sub‑areas; shipping activities; the disposal of wastes; land‑based activities; mineral exploration and exploitation; research on, and exploitation of, marine genetic resources; management tools; governance; and possible options and approaches to promote international cooperation and coordination, among others.  Among its conclusions, its recalls that Governments, gathered at the high‑level events of the General Assembly in September 2010, had renewed their commitments to the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems which contribute to achieving food security and hunger and poverty eradication.  Various global and regional organizations and entities had taken encouraging steps towards the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, including through cooperative mechanisms.

Nevertheless, the cumulative impacts of human uses and human‑induced environmental changes — such as climate change and ocean acidification — continued to take their toll on vital marine ecosystems.  Further actions and cross‑sectoral cooperative mechanisms were necessary to understand and address the impacts of various sectors on marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, taking into account the interconnectivity among marine ecosystems as well as between sea, land and air.  Global guidance was necessary on ways to adapt and implement, in a coherent and multidisciplinary manner, management tools commonly used within national jurisdiction.  Making full use of existing mechanisms to facilitate information sharing would also be beneficial.

Strengthening the capacity of States and various actors and stakeholders to contribute to expanding our knowledge of marine ecosystems, their functioning and resilience was critical, as was the development of capacity to implement relevant international instruments and management tools and approaches, such as environmental impact assessments, ecosystem approaches and marine spatial planning.  In addition to improving the capacity to adopt and enforce appropriate preventive and response measures, political will and the capacity to address the underlying causes of marine biodiversity loss were also crucial.  Moreover, conserving biodiversity could not be an afterthought once other objectives are addressed; it was the foundation on which many of these objectives were built.  Marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction was no exception.  Efforts for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity must match the scale and magnitude of the challenges that it faced, the report stresses.

The General Assembly, through its Working Group, was the only global institution with a multidisciplinary and cross‑sectoral perspective and competence on all issues related to marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.  It was, therefore, uniquely placed to review progress, identify what additional actions might be required at various levels and galvanize the necessary political commitments.  The convening of the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil in 2012 would present a timely opportunity for the General Assembly to provide the policy guidance required to facilitate the consistent and uniform application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other instruments relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Assembly also had before it two addenda to the Secretary‑General’s report, the first of which (document A/66/70/Add.1) constituted the second part of the report and discussed specific areas of crossover between sustainable development and ocean and sea issues.  In recent decades, those had included the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the nineteenth special session of the General Assembly, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the 2000 Millennium Summit of the United Nations and 2010 High‑level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals.  It discussed achievements and the implementation of outcomes of such major summits — in particular in the areas of legal and policy frameworks, international cooperation and coordination, implementation in thematic areas and topics relevant to small island developing States — and addressed gaps, challenges and emerging issues.

The addendum concludes that considerable progress has been achieved, but warns that the full implementation of many goals and targets would require further efforts by States, intergovernmental organizations and other relevant actors.  The Convention provided the legal framework for all activities in the oceans with near‑universal participation.  Two important implementing agreements had been adopted and brought into force.  The development of legal and policy frameworks and relevant implementing institutions had been a promising achievement across most, if not all, major sectors.

Meanwhile, competent international organizations have undertaken a large number of activities at the global, regional and national levels.  Programmes had also been put in place to promote cooperation and coordination among States and build capacity.  Technical assistance was being provided to developing States through those programmes and growing consideration is being given to the special case of small island developing States.  Mechanisms of cooperation and coordination, such as UN‑Oceans, were also contributing to an integrated overview of developments in the oceans and seas.

However, despite efforts undertaken by the international community, the negative impacts of human activities on the oceans and seas were increasingly visible.  Climate change — including sea level rise and coral bleaching — was evident, as were marine pollution and an increase in devastating natural disasters.  Developing countries, including small island developing States in particular, were still facing the challenge of implementing and fully participating in the benefits and opportunities linked with the oceans and seas.  Moreover, sustainable development required that the adverse impacts on the quality of air, water and other natural elements be minimized, so as to sustain the ecosystem’s overall integrity.  Ocean resources were not inexhaustible and efforts in addressing consumption patterns should also be part of the commitments of the international community for the sustainability of oceans and seas.  Efforts should also be made to facilitate implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development at the global, regional and especially the national level.  That would require increased international and inter‑agency cooperation and coordination and political will and the targeted allocation of sufficient resources at all levels.

The second addendum (document A/66/70/Add.2) discusses the Convention on the Law of the Sea and its implementing agreements.  It also provides an overview of recent developments regarding State practice, maritime claims and the delimitation of maritime zones, bodies established by the Convention — namely, the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea — as well as developments relating to international shipping activities, people at sea, maritime security, the conservation and management of marine living resources and marine biological diversity, among other issues.  It also tackles the crossover between climate change and oceans.

Among its conclusions and recommendations, the report states the pace of economic and social developments in many countries had resulted in greater pressure on marine living and non‑living resources.  An urgent need had developed to step up efforts to protect important marine habitats and ecosystem functions.  Adopting a precautionary approach, ecosystem‑based mitigation and adaptation strategies, and sound management would help to ensure that key components of marine ecosystems remain resilient to the cumulative impacts of those pressures.  The international community continued to demonstrate its resolve and commitment to improve the plight of the oceans.  Delineating and delimiting maritime jurisdictions and exercise of sovereignty, and sovereign rights in accordance with international law, were crucial for the rule of law in the oceans and for ensuring that States benefit fully from the use of ocean resources.

Many States had also made great progress in that regard by establishing precise boundaries of maritime zones, including lines of delimitation.  A large number of coastal States had made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf with regard to the outer limits of their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles.  Such submissions, prepared at a considerable cost, must be addressed by the Commission effectively and expeditiously.  At the same time, additional progress was needed with regard to the resolution of disputes concerning maritime boundary delimitation, in particular of those disputes with a potential to become sources of tension and conflict.  The capacity of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the Office of Legal Affairs to adequately address requests for support and assistance, and to continue to provide high‑quality output to Member States, was thus coming under considerable pressure, stresses the report.

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, set to meet in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the sustainable development of oceans should be at the heart of deliberations.  Additionally, in preparations for that conference, it was essential to consider what further actions were needed in relation to ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including with a view to strengthening the legal and institutional framework governing our oceans, to ensure that all activities and policies related to oceans and the marine environment acknowledged and incorporated the three pillars of sustainable development.

Also before the Assembly was a letter (document A/66/119) addressed to the Secretary‑General from the Co‑Chairs of the Ad Hoc Open‑ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.  The letter contained a number of recommendations made by the Working Group to the General Assembly.

Additionally, the Assembly was set to consider a report on the work of the United Nations Open‑ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea at its twelfth meeting, which was contained in a letter from the Co‑Chairs of the Consultative Process addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/66/186).  It summarizes discussions at the twelfth meeting of the Consultative Process, which had been held from 20 to 24 June 2011 and which had focused its discussions on the theme “Contributing to the assessment, in the context of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, of progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges”.  The summary would also be transmitted to the Co‑Chairs of the Bureau for the Preparatory Process of that Conference, which was also known as “ Rio+20”.

The Consultative Process heard panel presentations from experts, and subsequently held plenary discussion, on sustainable development, oceans and the law of the sea; progress made to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development; new and emerging challenges for the sustainable development and use of oceans and seas; and “the road to Rio+20 and beyond”.  It further considered inter‑agency cooperation and coordination and issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea.

Additionally, the Assembly had before it a report on the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio‑economic Aspects, which was contained in a letter (document A/66/189) from the Co‑Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole addressed to the President of the General Assembly.  The report detailed discussions at the second meeting of that Working Group, which had been held in New York on 27 and 28 June 2011, in particular recommendations issued by the Working Group to the General Assembly.

It recommended that the General Assembly adopt the criteria for the appointment of experts and the guidelines for workshops to assist the Regular Process.  It also recommended that that Assembly take note of the draft terms of reference and working methods for the Group of Experts; the report on communication requirements and data and information management for the Regular Process; and the report on the preliminary inventory of capacity‑building for assessments and types of experts for workshops.

The Ad Hoc Working Group took note of the possible outline for the first global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio‑economic aspects, and agreed on the need for it to be considered further, with a view to its possible adoption at the next meeting of the Working Group.

The Working Group further recommended that the Assembly urge Member States, international financial institutions, donor agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non‑governmental organizations and natural and juridical persons to make financial contributions to the trust funds established pursuant to its resolution 64/71 (2009), and to make other contributions to the Regular Process.

Additionally, pursuant to Assembly resolution 65/37 (2010), the Working Group agreed to establish a bureau to put in practice its decisions and guidance during the intersessional period, for example by approving the assignment of members of the pool of experts to work on drafting or to review drafts, and approving arrangements proposed by the Group of Experts for peer review.  It also laid out recommendations for the composition of that bureau.

The Working Group also recommended that the President of the General Assembly reappoint the Co‑Chairs, so that they might attend meetings of the bureau during the intersessional period, and that workshops be organized at the earliest possible opportunity in order to inform the first cycle of the Regular Process.  Lastly, the Working Group recommended that its next meeting be convened in the first half of 2012.

For its consideration of the sub‑item on sustainable fisheries, the Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary‑General (document (A/66/307) on Actions taken by States and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements in response to General Assembly resolutions 61/105 (year) and 64/72 (2009) on sustainable fisheries.  Prepared pursuant to paragraph 122 of General Assembly resolution 65/38 of December 2010, the report provides an overview of the impacts of bottom fisheries on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long‑term sustainability of deep‑sea fish stocks; addresses actions taken by States and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements to address the impacts of bottom fisheries on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long‑term sustainability of deep‑sea fish stocks; and discusses activities of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to promote the regulation of bottom fisheries and the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Finally, the Assembly had before it today two draft resolutions.  The first, on Oceans and the law of the sea (document A/66/L.21) and the second, on sustainable fisheries (document A/66/L.22).

Introduction of drafts

MARIA TERESA MESQUITA PESSÔA ( Brazil), introducing the draft resolution on Oceans and the law of the sea (document A/66/L.21), said that the comprehensive text was a reflection of the close interrelation of the problems of the ocean space, and that they needed to be considered as a whole.  The legal regime established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was an important contribution to the maintenance of peace, justice and progress for all peoples of the world.  This year’s text contained important new provisions that addressed critical issues, she said, including the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”), set to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, which would be a unique opportunity to consider measures to implement internationally agreed goals and commitments relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment and its resources.

With 71 per cent of the surface of the Earth covered by oceans and more than 40 per cent of the world’s population (more than 2.8 billion people) living within 100 kilometres of the coast, it was crucial to remember that, in addition to producing half of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere, marine phytoplankton produce the organic matter that determines the carrying capacity of the ecosystem that sustains the food web, ultimately for human consumption.  The resolution also touched upon some of the most pressing challenges relating to the sustainability of the oceans, including ocean acidification and the effects of climate change.  The Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea continued to be an important element to deal with the role of oceans and seas in sustainable development, she stressed.  The resolution before the Assembly today also addressed an issue that had been the reiterated concern of Member States, namely, the need for enhanced effectiveness of the interagency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations, UN‑Oceans.  Through the resolution, the General Assembly would invite the Joint Inspection Unit to review UN‑Oceans and present a report for its consideration.  It would also request UN‑Oceans to present to the Assembly draft terms of reference for its work, to be considered at its sixty‑seventh session with a view to reviewing its mandate and enhancing transparency and reporting of its activities to Member States.

Much had been said on the need to “strengthen” the governance of the oceans, she continued.  But, the strength of such governance was a function of the implementation of international commitments.  In that respect, identifying gaps in the implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and addressing them, should be at the core of international efforts.  By adopting the resolution before it, the Assembly would initiate, on the basis of recommendations of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Biodiversity, a process to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, beyond national jurisdiction, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area‑based management tools, including marine protected areas, and environmental impact assessments, capacity‑building and the transfer of marine technology.  She also welcomed the consolidation of the regular Process for global reporting.

Equally noteworthy was the endorsement by the General Assembly of Decision SPLOS/229, taken by the States Parties to the Convention in 2011, which requested the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to consider expediting its work.  The projected timetable for that work continued to be a cause of concern, she said, and there was a need to address the considerable delay between preparations of submissions and their consideration by the Commission.

As in previous years, the resolution contained a section on the peaceful settlement of disputes.  That was a theme of particular concern this year, as many States had reiterated the need to solve disputes by peaceful means.  The resolution also reflected the commitment to combating threats to maritime safety and security in accordance with international law, particularly principles embodied in the United Nations Charter and the Convention.  In that context, Flag State implementation was of paramount importance.  The draft emphasized the need to address the social and economic causes of piracy in Somalia and to assist that country and States in the region to strengthen institutional capacity to fight piracy and armed robbery.  It also called upon States to take measures to protect fibre optic submarine cables and to fully address issues relating to those cables in accordance with international law.  The draft resolution was certainly the most comprehensive of those adopted annually by the Assembly, she stressed, and consultations had provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the importance of oceans to humankind’s sustainable development and to recognize the challenges related to the sustainable management of the ocean and its resources.

MARY DEROSA (United States) introduced the draft resolution on sustainable fisheries including through the 1995 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, and related instruments (document A/66/L.22).  She said that healthy oceans, their coasts and resources were necessary for global prosperity.  Effective oceans management must be science and ecosystem based.  The current draft, as well as the wide‑ranging text just introduced by Brazil on oceans and the law of the sea, provided a constructive framework for action on a variety of pressing issues, including over‑fishing, ocean acidification, and others that would be before delegations next spring at Rio+20.  She was pleased that both drafts included language calling for recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of the signature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

As for the draft on fisheries, she said that text, for the first time contained language on supplying information on by‑catch.  Her delegation was also pleased that the text considered the impact of destructive fishing practices on the livelihoods of the small island developing States and other subsistence fishing communities.  States, including through regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements, were also called on to play an active role in global efforts to conserve and sustainably use marine living resources, so as to contribute to marine biological diversity.  She said the Assembly would also call on regional fisheries management organizations to take measures regarding bottom fishing.  The resolution invited the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to further assist States and regional fisheries management organizations to provide further technical directions for the management of deep sea fisheries on the high seas.

Continuing, she said the draft called for urgent actions regarding bottom fishing in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including that States strengthen procedures both for carrying out assessments to take into account individual, collective and cumulative impacts, and for making the assessments publicly available, recognizing that doing so could support transparency and capacity‑building globally.  It also urged States to establish and improve procedures to ensure that assessments are updated when new conditions or information so required.  She noted that States were also urged to consider establishing and improving procedures for evaluating, reviewing and revising, on a regular basis, assessments based on best available science and management measures.  They were also urged to establish mechanisms to promote and enhance compliance with applicable measures related to the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Statements

RAYMOND O. WOLFE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, as the world prepared to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, CARICOM believed that it was most timely to recall the main objectives of that landmark document.  In particular, he noted, that meant the commitment made by States to promote the peaceful uses of seas and oceans.  The Convention continued to be accepted by an increasing number of States as the “constitution of our oceans and seas”, he said, noting that there were now 162 States Parties to the Convention and that the number of States Parties to agreements on the conservation of fish stocks also continued to grow.

As small and vulnerable coastal States, the CARICOM States were dependent on the Caribbean Sea, which was vital to sustaining their economic viability and livelihoods.  They were, therefore, concerned about issues including over‑fishing, ocean acidification, pollution and climate change, among others.  They called for more extensive action at the multilateral level to assist in tackling those problems, given the serious threats that they posed.  In that vein, as the Rio+20 Conference approached, the CARICOM called on Member States to renew their commitments made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, to maintain the productivity and biodiversity of marine coastal areas.  The CARICOM States also requested the continued support of the international community for the work of the Caribbean Sea Commission in advancing the designation of the Caribbean Sea as a special area covering sustainable development.

As developing countries, the CARICOM States also recognized that all the resources of the oceans and seas should be utilized for the benefit of all.  In that respect, there should be a focus on capacity‑building, technical cooperation and assistance to facilitate the ability of developing countries to benefit from the oceans and their resources.  The group further supported the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Open‑Ended Informal Working Group to study the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, and agreed to a process initiated by the Assembly with a view to ensuring that the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity identified gaps and ways forward.  That included the possible development of a multilateral agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The process would also address the particular theme of marine genetic resources, he said.

CARICOM called for greater support for the institutions established by the Convention to assist States Parties to implement its provisions, including the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Seabed Authority.  CARICOM applauded the adoption of regulations for prospecting and exploring polymetallic sulphides during the last session of the Authority and looked forward to its finalization of a code on ferromanganese cobalt crusts.  Moreover, while the sovereign rights of the coastal State were not dependent on declarations or proclamations, CARICOM States recognized the important work being done by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  They remained concerned at the reluctance of some States Parties and others to ensure that the Commission, and other related bodies, were provided with the resources needed to carry out their functions.

The focus on shipping and maritime commerce must also include improved measures, regulations and standards governing maritime safety.  While CARICOM acknowledged the rights of Member States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the group remained concerned over the transport of hazardous nuclear waste and other hazardous materials through the Caribbean Sea. Finally, he concluded, the group reiterated its call for those States that had not yet done so to ratify or accede to the important Law of the Sea framework.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said that his delegation was pleased that the draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea encouraged States to see Rio+20 as an opportunity to further consider measures to implement internationally agreed goals and commitments on the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment and its resources.  He urged the international community to work towards integrated oceans management, using the Forum’s cooperative sustainable stewardship plan, “Pacific Oceanscape,” as a model.  All States must achieve relevant global goals to contribute to the health and vitality of the ocean environment, including a worldwide network of marine protected areas agreed at Rio+10.

Turning to the resolution on “Oceans and the law of the sea”, he said the Forum was pleased that the text highlighted threats to the ocean environment, including from ocean acidification, pollution and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  The Forum also took note of the recent approval by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of a marine benchmark study on the impact of the Fukushima radioactive releases in the Asia‑Pacific region.  The findings were expected to be released in 2015.

He said Pacific Forum Leaders were also concerned about the damaging effects of illegal and unregulated fishing on the sustainable management of fish stocks and on the economic returns to coastal States, particularly small island developing States.  As such, the Forum was pleased the draft resolution on “sustainable fisheries” recognized the effects of such activities, and he noted that Pacific States were working among themselves to enhance cooperation on monitoring, surveillance and enforcement.  He went on to stress that oceans and sustainable fisheries were fundamental to the well‑being of the Pacific region, and he called on all member States to work with the nations of that region “to ensure the survival of our oceans and their living resources for future generations.”

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said that, as a whole, the group was composed 97 per cent ocean and only 3 per cent land.  Those States, therefore, stood as guardians for the conservation, sustainable use and proper development of the ocean’s resources — an imperative deeply rooted in the communities and cultures of the island nations.  “While the ocean is what separates us geographically, at the same time it inextricably binds us as one”, he stressed, for everyone lived on a “blue planet”.  For many of the Pacific island nations, however, the ability to reach the most basic social and economic development goals depended on the international community’s dedication to fulfilling the key provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Fish Stocks Agreement.  Sadly, he said, “the written word has too often failed to translate into visible change observable in our local communities”.

Many Member States, along with the countries for which he spoke, had put in place innovative strategies to create conditions for sustainable development.  Those included, in many cases, more aggressively dealing with illegal fishing and working to eliminate destructive fishing practices.  The Pacific small island States had also strongly advocated that the upcoming Rio+20 negotiations must direct greater political will towards the well‑being of oceans and fisheries, and the need to strengthen the nexus between oceans and sustainable development.  “We can no longer sink commitments deep within obscure paragraphs of distant instruments”, he stressed.  For that reason, the concept of the “blue economy” must be an essential component of Rio+20.

The Pacific small island States had three priority areas under the “blue economy” theme:  the enabling of development aspirations of the small island developing States; the reduction and elimination of overfishing and destructive fishing practices; and addressing the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.  The transboundary impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans threatened the economic future of small island nations, and, in some cases, their very survival.  The international community must, therefore, show far greater resolve to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  “Without turning downward the upward curve of those emissions, all our efforts will be in vain”, he stressed, adding, in conclusion, that a “troubling gap” existed between the commitments expressed for the development aspirations of small island States and the outcomes of regional negotiations.  To correct that gap, effective progress and greater accountability of regional fisheries management organizations must be ensured.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, head of the Delegation of the European Union, said his delegation saw the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a factor of “stability, peace and progress”.  At the same time, that important treaty’s integrity and its preeminent role as the legal framework for all activities related to oceans and the law of the sea must be preserved.  While reiterating the importance the European Union attached to the principles of freedom of navigation, the right of innocent passage and the right of transit passage in line with the tenets of the Convention, he noted the right of coastal States to take legislative or regulator measures for transit passage through straits used for international navigation, when carried out under the rules of the Convention and when it did not discriminate “in form or fact” among foreign ships.

He went on to welcome the fact that the omnibus text on “oceans and the law of the sea” recognized the scale of the challenge and the amount of effort needed to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.  Reiterating the European Union’s deep concern about piracy and instances of hijacking, attacks on ships and the holding of prisoners for ransom, he reiterated the delegation’s commitment to combating such activities and taking relevant actions within the framework of the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVOR — ATALANTA) operation.  He also noted other challenges, such as the declining quality of the marine environment and the disappearance of natural marine resources, and urged full implementation of the outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, as well as other initiatives as outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity.

As for the resolution on “sustainable fisheries,” he commended the excellent cooperation that accompanied the drafting of that text, and noted that this year, it noted the important review of measures regarding the impact of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long‑term sustainability of the deep sea fisheries.  The European Union considered that the review of those measures had been a very useful exercise, which had highlighted that further progress was required to achieve the intended objectives.  He believed that the new provisions would assist States and regional fisheries management organizations to ensure higher levels of protections for valuable ecosystems and the fish species located therein.  The European Union was fully committed to meeting its obligations on such matters and would consider amending relevant legislation adopted in 2008 to bring it in line with agreed measures.  He called on all States to continue their efforts to enhance marine scientific research to improve knowledge of vulnerable marine ecosystems.

MARY FLORES (Honduras) said the legal conviction, shared by the majority of countries of the international community, in which coastal nations had sovereign rights over natural resources within economic exclusive zones that extended to a distance of 200 miles from the coastline, naturally brought numerous benefits towards sustaining populations and “accelerating the pace”, so that “economically backwards” nations like Honduras could eventually attain the desired objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.  The exploitation of any resource, however, needed to be done in terms of rationality, in a measured and intelligent way, with the intent of conserving the limited resources available, in order to protect what was unrecoverable.

For its part, Honduras had established a series of protected maritime areas of more than 1,126 square kilometres for its coral reef in the Caribbean Sea, and recently declared its territorial sea as a sanctuary for the protection of marine shark species, making it the first bio‑oceanic zone of its kind in the Americas.  He stressed the importance of technology transfer in the process of equipping the least technologically advanced countries to develop artisanal fishing on a small scale, and promoting work opportunities for women and indigenous peoples in developing countries and small island States.  She fully supported the resolutions and expressed her country’s unwavering commitment to work on the promotion and defence of the oceans, which were “essential for the survival of the human species”.

BUI THE GANG ( Viet Nam) said the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea represented an outstanding achievement by the international community in the work on the law on the ocean, and constituted an immense positive contribution to the promotion of international peace and security.  The Convention’s provisions were closely interrelated and formed an integral package, and thus did not allow State parties to pick and choose what was liked and what was not.  He underlined the enormous significance of sustainable use and development of the oceans and seas, with the maintenance of peace, stability and order at sea being an inseparable part thereof.

As a coastal State with a long coastline washed by the South China Sea, Viet Nam was pleased to note the continued development of regional and international cooperation, including in the uses and management of that sea.  In that sea, there existed difficult disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime boundaries, which if not properly managed and settled, could negatively impact regional peace, security and stability, and hinder the legitimate uses and other cooperative efforts for sustainable development of the sea.  Through peaceful negotiations, Viet Nam had successfully concluded agreements on the delineation of maritime boundaries in the Bac Bo Gulf with China and in the overlapping continental shelf with Indonesia, as well as on the joint development of the overlapped shelf with Malaysia and Thailand pending final boundary delimitation.  In that respect, he commended the adoption in July 2011 of the Guidelines for the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the stated commitments to work towards a final Code of Conduct.

IBRAHIM SALEM ( Egypt) said that, despite extensive efforts of the United Nations to address the challenges that faced the state of the oceans and seas, considerable challenges still threatened the sustainable development of those oceans and their resources, as human activities took a continued toll on the viability of vulnerable marine ecosystems.  Further, fisheries were being threatened by over‑exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as destructive fishing practices.  Further, marine pollution remained a main concern, and the increasing number of offshore drilling incidents and leakages indicated that marine environments were highly vulnerable to pollution resulting from accidents linked to activities at sea.

He said it was necessary to further enhance the efforts and programs aiming to tackle the threats caused by increased sea temperatures, sea level rise caused by climate change, as well as ocean acidification, which posed a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.  It was important to strengthen and develop the field of marine scientific research, particularly in the context of the International Seabed Authority, and in the study of the effects of mining activities on the marine environment at sea bottom.  Additional progress needed to be made in relation to the resolution of disputes concerning maritime boundary delimitation, in particular of those disputes with a potential to become sources of tension and conflict.

Turning to the safety and security of navigation, he expressed concern at the continuing adverse effects that incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coasts of Somalia posed to the life of seafarers and the safety of international shipping.  That caused considerable economic damage through higher transportation costs, including insurance costs.  It was also necessary to exert more efforts to protect endangered fish species, fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and refrain from destructive fishing practices of the seabed.  The State parties to the 1995 Fisheries Agreement should review its provisions to take into consideration the reservations made by non‑Parties, especially developing countries, including those provisions related to boarding and searching of fishing vessels.  The sustainable development of the world’s oceans should be at the heart of the deliberations at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  Preserving the oceans from the impacts of climate change, supporting essential ecosystems and providing sustainable livelihoods and safe transport was essential for the long‑term prosperity of humankind.

WANG MIN ( China), attaching great importance to the concept of harmonious maritime order, said his delegation took an active role in the consultations on draft resolutions on oceans, law of the sea and sustainable fishing.  Addressing the diligent work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he said his Government hoped that the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf would balance the legitimate rights and interests of Coastal States, as well as the interests of the international community, as a whole.  Now that the Commission was facing a heavy workload, he expressed concern over the fact that many members from developing countries did not yet have coverage for medical expenses during their stay in New York.

On the work of the International Seabed Authority, he said his delegation looked forward to an early completion of the drafting of the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Cobalt‑Rich Crusts and hoped that the Regulations would give a balanced reflection of the concerns of all parties.  Further, he said his Government valued and supported the important role of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes and the maintenance of maritime order.  In regards to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, he welcomed the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group and emphasized that work should proceed in a gradual manner and take into full consideration the legitimate need of countries, especially developing countries.

On the Regular Process for Global Reporting, he said China was hosting a marine symposium in February 2012 and hoped that the meeting would make a useful contribution to the environment assessment and capacity‑building of countries in the region, he said.  As a responsible fishery State, his Government was willing to continue to work with the international community to develop fisheries regimes, achieve the sustainable use of marine resources, maintain an ecological balance and ensure the sharing of the fishery interests by all countries.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) said the reports before the Assembly and the relevant draft resolutions were testaments to the continued commitment of Member States to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  That Convention had established a legal order and set out the framework for complying with international obligations.  It gave each nation a voice in maritime issues.  Philippines believed the continued development of maritime law, including on the limits of the continental shelf, was vitally important and therefore looked forward to the upcoming Rio+20 conference, where it expected discussions on such matters would continue in earnest.

Despite all the international community’s efforts at cooperation, challenges still existed, and pollution and destructive fishing practices continued to pressure ocean resources and the communities dependent on them.  Philippines welcomed that this year’s omnibus resolution addressed such issues, as well as the impact of piracy and other crimes on the high seas.  He welcomed recommendations that a process be opened in the General Assembly to set out a framework for the management and sustainable use of maritime areas and resources beyond national borders.  His delegations welcomed the “positive atmosphere” that had surrounded the initial discussions on that process.  He was disappointed that a proposal by the Philippines on the peaceful settlement of disputes had not been included in the resolutions currently before the Assembly.  Nevertheless, his delegation stood firmly by the merit of its proposal and would continue to work with all Member States to ensure the protection of world maritime areas and in implementation of the aims of the Convention.

FATOU ISIDORA NIANG ( Senegal) said that seas and oceans had an important place in geopolitics and in the economic life of countries, in particular with regard to trade.  Indeed, under the current global economic circumstances, the sustainable use and management of seas and oceans was crucial to the economic survival of nations.  In that regard, the Open‑Ended Informal Working Group was working to develop an integrated, multi‑disciplinary and cross‑sectoral approach to seas and oceans management, a major step in the development of that field.  Meanwhile, it was critical to find a balance between such management and the work of development for future generations.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing posed a serious threat in the depletion of fish stocks, she continued, a problem that was of even greater concern for developing countries, who did not have means to monitor their stocks.  The international community must work to address that devastating problem, which continued to grow.  With regard to marine genetic resources, such resources must be governed by the principle of “the common heritage of mankind”, she stressed, so as to ensure the equitable sharing of deep sea resources.  Another topic of major concern to Senegal was the volume of work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  She hoped that the 2011 decision by the States parties SPLOS/229 would appreciably improve the efficiency and pace of the Commission’s work.  Finally, she emphasized, all bodies created under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea framework must be provided with sufficient resources to carry out their mandates.

ISABELLE PICCO ( Monaco) said that there had been a series of important meetings and discussions on oceans and the law of the sea during the past year, resulting in a number of relevant documents being forwarded to the Assembly for its consideration.  Going forward, Member States must ensure that maritime issues, including ancillary issues such as food security and tourism, received due attention at Rio+20.  Monaco aimed to ensure that climate change, sustainable ocean management, protection of small island developing States and tourism, all issues that were vital to the push to “blueing the green economy” were taken seriously.  Monaco’s commitment to sustainable oceans management remained strong, and Prince Albert’s Oceanographic Institute had last year organized a workshop on such issues.  As for the drafts before the Assembly, she regretted that measures aimed at ensuring specific protections for highly endangered species had not been included.  She hoped such matters would, nevertheless, be urgently addressed by all stakeholders in the near future.

KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said his country was a maritime State which imported nearly all its energy resources, including oils and minerals, via maritime transport.  Therefore, Japan believed it was extremely important to adopt the draft resolution on “oceans and the law of the sea,” as that text contained crucial issues regarding the maintenance of peace and security, including the peaceful settlement of disputes, freedom of navigation, safety at sea and compliance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Turning to other matters, he said Japan was making contributions to the consultations regarding the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.  Japan had also contributed more than $200,000 to the trust fund set up to defray the costs of developing countries wishing to participate in the Commission’s work.

He said that one of the very important tasks ahead would be to come up with a solution to easing the Commission’s workload.  In that regard, Japan welcomed the measures set out in the resolution on “oceans and the law of the sea” to address that issue, and he strongly hoped those measures, including reinforcing the personnel of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea would be implemented without delay.  As for the International Seabed Authority, he welcomed the steady efforts to finalize the draft of the regulations on prospecting and Exploration for Cobalt‑rich Ferromanganese Crusts in the Area.  In view of the importance of ensuring a well‑balanced approach between exploration and environmental protection in the Area, Japan valued the workshops on those issues organized by the Authority.  Japan contributed to the Authority’s activities through, among other initiatives, providing contractors to assist with exploration of polymetallic nodules.

Turning to maritime safety and security, he said that piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden continued to pose serious threats.  To combat such activities, the international community must adopt a multi‑faceted approach that comprised assistance for capacity‑building in maritime enforcement, and other medium- and long‑term efforts to counter piracy.  He noted Japan’s involvement in the area, including escort and surveillance activities.  Japan had also provided some $14.6 million to the Djibouti Code Trust Fund and $1.5 million, respectively, to the Trust Fund to Support the Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.  Finally, he said that Japan welcomed recent developments regarding the management of bottom fishing on the high seas, including the agreements that had been established with new regional fisheries management organizations, in line with past resolutions on sustainable fisheries.

DIEGO LIMERES ( Argentina) said that while his delegation would deliver its explanation of position in relation to the resolution on sustainable fisheries, he wished to comment on several key issues.  He said that the question of biodiversity beyond the limits of national jurisdiction was one of the emerging issues in the area of law of the sea.  Argentina was pleased that the Assembly, following the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Working Group, had decided to initiate a process aimed at ensuring the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, which also contemplated the possibility of negotiating a relevant multilateral agreement under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  That process would take place in the Ad Hoc Working Group, where delegations would discuss the issue, in particular, and as a whole as marine genetic resources, conservation measures capacity‑building and technology transfer.

Regarding the substance of the issue, he reiterated that Argentina considered that the phrase “areas beyond national jurisdiction” comprised two maritime areas:  the high seas, and the Area.  One of the objectives of the Convention was to develop the principles through which previous resolutions of the Assembly had declared that “the area of the seabed and the ocean floor and the subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, as well as its resources are the common heritage of mankind, the exploration and exploitation of which shall be carried out to the benefit of mankind as a whole.”  Turning to the issue of the workload of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he welcomed the recent decision by the States Parties so the Commission could perform its functions expeditiously and effectively.

On the work of the International Seabed Authority, he noted that that body was considering a proposal made by its Legal and Technical Commission to establish areas of special environmental interest.  Argentina called on the Authority’s Member States to make progress in the adoption of norms, regulations and measures for the protection and preservation of the marine environment pursuant to Article 145 of the Convention.  The Authority also needed to continue its marine scientific research activities entrusted to it by Article 143 of the Convention.  In that regard, paragraph 187 of the omnibus resolution called on international organizations and other donors to support the Authority’s Endowment Fund, with a view to developing cooperative research programmes with scientists and technicians from developing countries.

Turning to the draft resolution on “sustainable fisheries,” he said there was a need to maintain the principle of acting by consensus on matters regarding oceans and the law of the sea.  That practice had not been followed during the Assembly’s sixty‑fifth session regarding one aspect of that year’s “sustainable fisheries” text and Argentina had had to make reference to the matter in its explanation of vote.  He reminded the Assembly that consensus was the only way to ensure the wide acceptance of its resolutions.  The principle of consensus must be respected in negotiations, as well.  He went on to express concern about the increasing trend of trying to legitimize, through Assembly resolutions, attempts by regional fisheries management organizations to adopt measures that were beyond their scope of application.  He said that Argentina objected to such interpretation of Assembly resolutions, particularly regarding measures that could “reflect some kind of claim of authority of such organizations over vessels flying the flags of countries that are neither members of such organizations nor have consented to measures of such nature”. 

GILLES RIVARD ( Canada) welcomed both resolutions before the Assembly, and was pleased to be a co‑sponsor of each.  He drew attention to three particular issues related to oceans and the law of the sea:  first, conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources; second, oceans and marine biodiversity; and third, the ongoing work under the Convention with respect to the continental shelf.  Ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of all living marine resources was a responsibility for all States, which was often exercised through cooperation.  In that respect, he said, significant progress had been made by States and regional fisheries management organizations to address the impacts of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems.

This year’s resolution on sustainable fisheries reinforced existing commitments by States to share strategies for ensuring the sustainability of fisheries in the deep seas.  Such strategies must take into account a precautionary approach.  By this year’s resolution, he added, the Assembly also reiterated its support for the work of the FAO with regards to the impacts of bottom fishing.  Despite such action, however, commitments and rules were not effective unless adequately implemented and enforced.  In Canada’s view, effective control of fishing vessels was necessary both for ecosystem‑based approaches to fisheries and for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  Therefore, Canada continued to support the FAO’s ongoing work to ensure that States registering vessels actually exercised jurisdiction and control over those vessels.

Canada was an active participant in the development of an ongoing initiative to assess and report on the state of the oceans, known as the “Regular Process”.  That Process would be a critical means to better inform decisions and promote the long‑term health and productivity of the seas.  With regard to the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, it was clear that the Commission would continue to face a challenging workload.  Canada believed that it was important for the Commission to have the support necessary to address that workload, including by having its support body, the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, ensured adequate resources.  Canada was pleased that the resolution on Oceans and the Law of the Sea provided a path to achieve that goal.  Finally, he announced, Canada would nominate its national, Dr. Richard Haworth, for election to that important Commission in June 2012, a candidacy that was endorsed by both Australia and New Zealand.

AHMAD A. AL‑SHARIM ( Kuwait) said that the subject of oceans and the law of the sea was of great importance to his delegation.  Kuwait felt that friendly relations between countries should be based on the principle of equality, and that the same applied to the sustainable management of oceans.  The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was, therefore, critical on the international and regional levels; in that regard, he called upon States not yet parties to the Convention to join it and to work in a spirit of international partnership.

Crimes perpetrated at the high seas, including terrorist acts targeting shipping activities, constituted a threat to the lives of seafarers and to the economic viability of States.  Some 273 attacks had been reported in the first half of 2011, he said, adding that Kuwait condemned all such acts — particularly those off the coast of Somalia.  Indeed, the international community “must join hands to combat piracy”, he stressed.  Kuwait had contributed $1 million to the United Nations Trust Fund to Fight Piracy.  It also supported related Security Council resolutions, which called on States to condemn piracy and to facilitate the arrest of those responsible for such crimes.  Kuwait had joined the Convention in 1986, and ratified its Part XI in 2002, and was a Party to the Special Protocol on marine pollution.  He hoped that all Member States would cooperate to achieve a “dignified life” for their people, preserving ocean resources, while allowing people the right to use those resources in a just and equitable manner.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran said one delegation used a “fake name” when referring to the Persian Gulf.  Iran believed that using any name other than the Persian Gulf, which was the only way to refer to the true geographic designation, as historically established, for the area between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula would lead to misunderstanding and “is therefore void of any legal significance”.

Statements

YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) reiterated his country’s commitment to suppressing armed robbery and piracy on the high seas adjacent to waters under Indonesia’s national jurisdiction, a concern about which Indonesia and littoral States continued to work in cooperation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.  There had been some progress, he noted, as incidents had continued to decrease.  With regard to Security Council resolutions addressing the issue of armed robbery and piracy off the coast of Somalia, Indonesia was of the view that such resolutions did not infringe upon the rights, obligations or responsibilities granted to States under international law; in that regard, the Council was not considered to be establishing customary international law.  Indonesia was, however, concerned about the threat posed by that piracy to international navigation, security and the economic development of States in the Gulf of Guinea.  He hoped that the full authority of the Security Council resolutions could be brought to bear on the maritime insecurity in that region.

With regard to maritime biodiversity, he continued, Indonesia was pleased that the informal consultative process had been able to chart a realistic course of action.  The integrity of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea should be emphasized in that respect, so that any new legal framework would draw on the basic norms of the Convention.  Additionally, the devastating impact of oil spills from offshore exploration and exploitation, which was of great concern, should be seen as a “wake‑up call” to strengthen the international regulatory regime, which must be able to respond adequately to similar events in the future.  Moreover, he added, no existing instrument currently existed which covered pollution damage from offshore exploitation and exploration activities; nor was there an international regulation or instrument specifically dedicated to dealing with transboundary offshore oil spills.  There was, therefore, a compelling need to establish an international regime to address issues of liability and compensation for transboundary pollution and damage resulting from offshore exploration and exploitation activities.

ALBERT CHUA ( Singapore) said that 90 per cent of global trade was carried by sea, with half of that passing through the Straits of Malacca, which were “ Singapore’s economic lifeline”.  It was in all States’ interests to preserve freedom of navigation and passage through the Straits and other waters, as guaranteed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  He called the Convention a “constitution of the oceans”, and the best safeguard of global maritime and marine interests, finely balancing often competing interests.  He welcomed the two new ratifications and called for universal accession.

Acknowledging that environmental and technological changes could prompt fresh debate over sufficiency or proper application, he said it was “critical to maintain the indivisibility of the Convention”, pointing out that similarly contentious issues were resolved during its drafting through trade‑offs and States’ acceptance of the Convention as a package.  The Convention allowed no reservations or selectivity and, while allowing for declarations, those were not back‑door methods for expressing reservations or interpreting provisions in a manner inconsistent with their letter and spirit.  The Convention, he said, contained “both the core set of principles that should be applied and the necessary scope for us to successfully address all emerging issues”.

He endorsed the Ad Hoc Open‑Ended Working Group’s recommendations on conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, particularly the recognition that any multilateral agreement must be developed under the Convention, and must avoid undermining freedom of navigation and other important interests.  Further, he said it was vital to protect communications infrastructure on the seabed, with 95 per cent of international communications routed through fragile submarine fibre optic cables, which could be broken even by ships dropping anchor in the wrong place.  He welcomed inclusion of the subject in the Secretary‑General’s report (A/66/70 paragraph 4) and said Singapore had once again added the issue to the draft omnibus resolution.

MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) said that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provided a solid foundation for peaceful, responsible and predictable management of the oceans.  All related processes, including the sustainable use of maritime resources, must be dealt with within the framework of the Convention.  An integrated ecosystem‑based approach to the marine management formed the basis for Norway’s marine policy, he said, adding that it applied the precautionary principle and had drawn up integrated management plans.  Oceans were critical for global food security, and, as such, the major challenge was to find the balance between responsible use of living marine resources and conservation.  In that respect, and based on the experiences of its own region, Norway was concerned about the connections between international organized crime and illegal fishing.  The study “Transnational Crime in the Fishing Industry” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, published this year, was a useful contribution in that regard, he added, encouraging the further study of those links.

Norway was concerned about the impacts of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long‑term sustainability of deep‑sea fish stocks, but was pleased that the Assembly had agreed on measures to address the problem; since those measures were taken, marine habitats outside national jurisdiction were better protected against bottom fishing’s negative effects than they once were.  While it was vital to improve implementation of those measures, Norway noted that such implementation was demanding for many States.  “We must make sure that we do not end up with a system where only rich countries are able to fish”, he stressed.

In the related area of marine transport, Norway shared the objectives of the International Maritime Organization (IMO):  safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.  However, such shipping was responsible for its share of greenhouse emissions.  The IMO had taken action this year to that effect, he said, calling that move a “major achievement”.  Addressing the protection of biological diversity, he stressed that there was an urgent need to implement effective measures to combat threats to marine biodiversity.  Norway, therefore, welcomed the work of the Open‑Ended Informal Working Group, and called on it to examine all current and potential negative impacts on biodiversity in sea areas and beyond.  Additionally, while clear maritime boundaries were essential, the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelves was a challenge for many developing countries.  In that respect, Norway supported several African countries in the related endeavour to map the outer limits of their continental shelves, which would help them to exercise a larger degree of control over their own resources.  It encouraged all States with available resources to do the same.

JUAN MANUEL SÁNCHEZ ( Mexico) said the omnibus draft on “oceans and law of the sea” set out an essential framework for action on such issues.  The current text contained several new elements that deserved the Assembly’s attention, including on the holding of elections for associated bodies, as well as its call on States to join the Protocol against the illicit manufacture of and maritime trafficking in legal arms and their parts.  For its part, Mexico would urge States with joining coastlines or waters to enter into agreements to ensure their sustainable management and conservation.

On protection of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, Mexico was convinced that the best way to proceed with negotiations on that matter was through the establishment of an intergovernmental committee.  He said Mexico also believed the Assembly should place more emphasis on strengthening and supporting the role of the Seabed Authority.  It must be the institution that had the lead when it came to advising the world body on scientific and technical issues regarding the protection of marine biodiversity.  It was also essential that the members of the Legal and Technical Committee of the Authority participate more actively in its work in that area.

ANDREY V. KALININ ( Russian Federation) said that next year would mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Law of the Sea of 1982, which was a unique international treaty and was one of the most important achievements of the 20th century.  The significance of the world’s oceans for mankind increased every day, as new potential opened for its resources, and there was a broader and broader range of economic activities in the oceans.  The Russian Federation had always advocated the sustainable use of marine resources, but did not support proposals that limited marine activities, when it was not backed up by scientific data.

He thanked the Secretary‑General for presenting the report, and commended the work of the bodies set up under the Convention.  He noted the role on the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and its valuable contribution to implementing article 76 of the Convention.  He supported the efforts to find the optimal resolution of problems that had resulted in a significant increase in the workload of the Commission.  He stressed that it was important that States met their obligations, to ensure participation in the work of the Commission.  The Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea should be given the necessary resources.  The Russian Federation was pleased with the outcome of the 12 open‑ended consultations on oceans and the law of the sea, and was convinced of the usefulness of that forum.

He also supported the recommendations of the most recent meeting of the Working Group of the General Assembly, and continued to be ready to take a constructive part in further discussions on the issue of biodiversity within the Working Group.  He welcomed enhanced integrated measures to combat unregulated fishing.  He called once again on Member States that had not yet done so to sign the 1995 agreement on the conservation of fish stocks.

LESTER DELGADO SÁNCHEZ ( Cuba) said that his delegation saw the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a vital tool that helped the international community to keep and strengthen peace and order, and to promote sustainable development and conservation of maritime areas.  The Convention was a historic document and its integrity must be protected.  Discussion of such matters must continue to rest with the Assembly in order to ensure broad implementation of recommendations and coherence of efforts.  Cuba, for its part, strongly supported all aims of the Convention and reiterated the importance of strengthening international cooperation in the protection and management of maritime resources.

He said that Cuba spared no effort to combat the commission of maritime crimes and illegal activity.  Cuba was also actively working to expand implementation of the Convention at home and to strengthen the role of its attendant bodies.  The selfishness of some nations should not hamper progress on key matters, including efforts to expand the transfer of technology and protection of the maritime Area.  He said that the continuous rise in sea level was threatening the territorial integrity of many countries, especially small island developing States.  All States must, therefore, uphold their obligations to alleviate the impact of that phenomenon.

GRÉTA GUNNARSDÓTTIR ( Iceland) welcomed the recent ratifications of the Convention on the Law of the Sea that brought the total number of States Parties to 162, saying it was imperative to preserve the integrity of the Convention which provided the legal framework for all deliberations pertaining to the oceans and the law of the sea.  By ratifying and implementing the Convention, States sustained and promoted some of the most cherished goals of the United Nations.  She called for every effort to utilize existing instruments to the fullest before other options, including serious consideration of possible new implementation agreements under the Convention.

Noting that the three institutions established under the Law of the Sea Convention were all functioning well, she said the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf had received 57 submissions from coastal States, including Iceland.  Concerned about the Commission’s heavy workload, Iceland was fully supportive of the Secretary‑General’s request to allocate appropriate and sufficient resources to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea to provide adequate services and assistance to the Commission.  That included through the establishment of additional posts to reinforce the Geographic Information System (GIS), and legal and administrative support.

Further, Iceland also attached great importance to the long‑term conservation, management and sustainable use of living marine resources and the obligation of States to cooperate to that end, in accordance with international law, in particular the Law of the Sea Convention and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.  Iceland considered the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) and important instrument, and as such, welcomed signatures and ratifications of that first global treaty focused specifically on the problem of such fishing and encouraged States to ratify it with a view to its early entry into force, she added.

SUL KYUNG‑HOON ( Republic of Korea) urged non‑signatory States to the Convention and its two implementing agreements to accede to them soon.  Member States must make more concerted efforts to address the difficulties the Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal faced in carrying out their work.  He welcomed the Authority’s decision at its July 2011 session to begin preparations to create a mining code for exploitation of deep‑sea minerals in the international seabed area.  He lauded the Tribunal’s 1 February advisory opinion on the responsibilities of a sponsoring State under the 1994 implementing agreement and the Convention, saying it was very much in line with the opinions and statements submitted by his and other States Parties’ Governments.  The Tribunal would continue to demonstrate its confidence and expertise by resolving pending maritime disputes, such as the 2009 case over the delimitation of the maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal, the 2010 M/V Louisa case, and the M/V “Virginia G” case.

During the Convention’s thirtieth anniversary next year, it was important not to underestimate the treaty’s overarching significance in strengthening global peace and security, promoting international cooperation, and achieving the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, he said.  Collaborative subregional, regional and international efforts were needed to adequately address piracy and armed robbery at sea, which threatened international navigation and the safety of commercial maritime routes.  Much remained to be done in that area.  The Republic of Korea would hold an Expo in Yeosu, a southern coastal city, in 2012 on the theme “the living ocean and coast”.  He welcomed UN‑Ocean’s participation in it and hailed the event as an excellent opportunity to keep ocean issues high on the agenda.  Also, the Northwest Pacific Action Plan on marine litter continued to be implemented. 

Adela Leal Perdomo ( Venezuela) said that the oceans and the sea played an important role in providing food for mankind and were an important resource in ensuring sustainable development.  The state policies of Venezuela thus gave particular priority to the issue, as was reflected in a clear way in its national legislation.  The Venezuelan Government had, in August 2011, set up a legal territory representing an area with a special regime to contribute to the protection and conservation of the sea space and the resources that it contained.  Venezuela gave particular importance to international events related to the oceans and the seas, particularly the consultations held in New York this year.  The consultative process was a platform providing a way to deal with the issues in an integrated way, and should be linked to the conceptual framework of sustainability.

She said the debate should be used to repeat the concern at the lack of an implemented legal framework for the use of sea resources, as it was not acceptable that the management of those resources should be decided upon in an exclusive legal framework.  The Convention on the Law of the Sea did not, in itself, through its text or in its agreements, cover all aspects of the issues that the international community must address with regard to the oceans and the law of the sea.  Based on that view, she appealed for a key role for other international instruments in dealing with marine biodiversity beyond territorial waters.  Regarding the draft resolution on sustainable fishing, she said it was a sensitive issue and was of extreme importance to her country.  In that regard, Venezuela had launched a far‑reaching initiative to promote programs aimed at protecting and managing marine resources.

ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) said this year’s resolutions validated the “enduring globalization” of the oceans agenda.  The level of global consciousness on the matter was high, but the collective ability to manage oceans needed reinforcing.  Sustainable fisheries were critically important to Maldivians, he said, with the State’s survival and future dependent on treating oceans and everything in them “in a sustainable and justifiable manner”.  He expressed concern over over‑fishing, subsidies, biodiversity and climate change, saying that Regional Fisheries Management Organizations needed to overcome a lack of political will, capacity and enforcement to establish effective regional agreements on ocean management.  Existing regional organizations needed to review decision‑making, improve transparency and accountability, he said, suggesting the adoption of provisions for oversight by the United Nations General Assembly.  He noted the commitment of parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to promote development of the marine scientific and technological capacity of States, and said for coastal developing states, and especially small island developing States, effective management of oceans and marine resources was an integral part of their development strategy.

Judge SHUNJI YANAI, President of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, informed the Assembly of the death on 24 February 2011 of Judge Anatoly Lazarevich Kolodkin, who was a Tribunal member from 1996 to 2008.  He also welcomed Thailand, which became a State party to the Convention in 2011, noting that to date, 161 States, together with the European Union, were parties to the Convention.

Summarizing this year’s elections, he said that on 15 June 2011, the twenty‑first meeting of States parties re‑elected Judges Cot (France), Gao ( China), Lucky ( Trinidad and Tobago) and Ndiaye ( Senegal).  It also elected three new judges for a nine‑year term of office:  David Attard ( Malta); Elsa Kelly ( Argentina); and Markiyan Z. Kulyk ( Ukraine).  Sworn in with her two colleagues, on 1 October 2011, Judge Kelly was the first woman to serve as a Tribunal judge.  He was elected as President on 1 October 2011, while Judge Albert Hoffman was elected Vice‑President.  Judge Golitsyn was elected President of Seabed Disputes Chamber on 6 October and Philippe Gautier was re‑elected Registrar for a five‑year term on 22 March 2011.

Outlining the Tribunal’s activities in the last year, he said two decisions had been delivered.  On 23 December 2010, the Tribunal handed down its Order in the M/V “Louisa” Case ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines v. Kingdom of Spain); the case would now be judged on its merits, with written proceedings to be concluded by April 2012 and the hearings held next year.

He noted that, on 1 February 2011, the Seabed Dispute Chamber delivered its first advisory opinion concerning the Responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the International Seabed Area.  It indicated that States sponsoring activities in the Area were under two kinds of obligations:  the obligation to ensure compliance by sponsored contractors with the terms of the contract; and the obligation set out in the Convention and related instruments.  It also provided guidance on the necessary and appropriate measures that a sponsoring State must take to fulfil its responsibilities.  Subsequently, the Authority’s Legal and Technical Commission recommended that the Nodules Regulations be revised.

He said the Tribunal had continued to examine the dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar regarding the delimitation of their maritime boundary.  This was its first delimitation case.  Following the hearing held from 8 to 24 September 2011, the case was under deliberation, with a decision expected in March 2012.  The Tribunal had also received a new case — The M/V “Virginia G” Case (Panama/Guinea‑ Bissau) — regarding a damage claim by Panama for the arrest by Guinean authorities of the “Virginia G” vessel.

Among its other work, the Tribunal had established a trust fund aimed at providing financial assistance to interns from developing countries.  It continued to maintain a capacity‑building and training programme on dispute settlement under the Convention with support from the Nippon Foundation.  Twenty‑nine participants from 24 countries had attended the fifth International Foundation for the Law of the Sea Summer Academy from 24 July to 20 August 2011.

NIL ALLOTEY ODUNTON, Secretary‑General of the International Seabed Authority, said the Council of the Authority had, at its seventeenth session in July 2011, approved four new applications for plans of work for exploration in the Area.  Two of them, sponsored by China and the Russian Federation, related to exploring for polymetallic sulphides and were the first such applications under the Authority’s regulations on those minerals.  The two others, sponsored by Nauru and Tonga, related to exploration for polymetallic nodules in the areas reserved for activities by developing States.  Following the approvals on polymetallic sulphides, he signed the first‑ever 15‑year exploration contract with the China Ocean Mineral Research and Development Association.

Highlighting another “first” for the Authority, he noted the approval of two applications by private‑sector interests from Nauru and Tonga, sponsored by developing States, for plans for work for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the so‑called reserved areas.  Underlining that tremendously important development, he said the original purpose of the Convention’s parallel system of exploitation was to provide developing States with practical and realistic means of participating in seabed mining, either in their own right or through the Enterprise.  Following the 1994 Implementation Agreement, the establishment of the Enterprise had been delayed, perhaps indefinitely, making the formation of partnerships with commercial interests the only real option for developing States in terms of deep sea exploration.  That would have been impossible if the private sector had not had sufficient confidence in the regulatory system developed by the Authority over the past 15 years.

He stressed that the four new applications indicated a renewed commercial interest in deep seabed mining as an alternative source of the minerals needed to fuel economic development in many parts of the world.  Moreover, active research and development programmes for nodule mining was continuing, while geologists and engineers were seeking out new resources and areas of interest as potential sources for seabed minerals.  But, as investment increasingly originated from the private sector, it was the Authority’s responsibility to begin to develop fair and equitable polices and regulations.  Many issues were left pending by the Implementation Agreement and addressing those critical legal and financial questions would form an important part of the Authority’s work in 2012.

Highlighting the advisory opinion by the Seabed Dispute Chamber on the obligation and responsibilities of States sponsoring activities in the Area, he said it provided important clarification on some of the more difficult aspects of the Convention and the 1994 Agreement.  He also underscored the Authority’s legal duty, as recognized in the draft resolution, to elaborate rules, regulations and procedures to protect and preserve the marine environment from the harmful impacts of seabed mining.  In that context, he commended the Council of the Authority for progress made in 2011 towards establishing the regional environmental plan for the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the central Pacific Ocean.  He also noted the contributions made by an international workshop recently held in Fiji for future environmental impact assessments. Finally, he stressed that the Authority was firmly in its operational phase.

HARLAN COHEN, representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, welcomed progress in the discussions regarding the protection of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and noted that the resolution before the Assembly today would endorse the recommendations that emerged from the June meeting of the Open Ended Ad Hoc Working Group on issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction.  Agreement to initiate a process under the Assembly’s auspices on that matter would help identify gaps and establish ways forward, which was essential to avoid or mitigate further stress on the marine environment.

Turning to deep sea bottom fishing on the high seas, he said the Union was concerned that the necessary impact assessments had not always been carried out and that, if they had been, their results were not always made public.  Without access to the outcome of those assessments, it would be impossible to judge the accuracy of the exercise and it would hamper efforts to both build State capacity and share scientific knowledge towards better management of living marine resources.  “Transparency is of particular importance, as it forms a basis for sustainability,” he said.  As for deep sea fisheries, he said that capacity-building programmes were urgently needed to assist States in the development and implementation of laws and agreements and in the management and conservation of fish stocks.

Looking ahead to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development — Rio+20 — he said that event would offer an opportunity for all stakeholders to renew commitment to the three pillars of sustainable development and to reaffirm the importance of the need to fully implement Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Action.  Those outcome documents contained many paragraphs on oceans and the law of the sea, most of them unfulfilled.  By example, he noted that Johannesburg had called for the restoration of fish stocks to levels that could produce a maximum sustainable yield “on an urgent basis” and not later than by 2015.  That call had gone unheeded.  It was time to take action to address such lingering implementation gaps.

Action on Drafts

Having concluded its debate, the Assembly turned to consider the draft resolutions before it.  The Assembly was informed that action on the text on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/66/L.21) would take place at a later date.

The Assembly then adopted without vote the draft resolution on Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 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, and related instruments (document A/66/L.22).

Speaking in explanation of position after action, the representative of Argentina said that his delegation had joined consensus on the resolution on “sustainable fisheries”, but it wished to state once again that none of the recommendations in that text could be interpreted as meaning that the provisions of the Agreement for the Implementation of the provisions of the 1982 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, adapted in 1995, could be considered as binding on States that had not expressly indicated their consent to full obligations under that Agreement.

The resolution just adopted contained references to the implementation of the recommendations of the Review Conference on that Agreement, he said, and Argentina believed that such recommendations could not be considered applicable to States that were not party to the Agreement.  Further, that was particularly true for States like Argentina, which had dissociated themselves from the recommendations.  He said that Argentina would dissociate itself from the consensus reached by the Assembly regarding paragraphs that referred to the recommendations of the Review Conference.

At the same time, he pointed out that, under current international law, neither regional fisheries management organizations, nor their Member States could adopt any measures with respect to vessels whose flag States were not members of such organizations or arrangements, or which had not expressly consented that such measures could be applied to vessels flying their flags.  Nothing in the resolutions of the Assembly, including the text just adopted, could be interpreted in a manner contrary to that conclusion.  In addition, implementation of conservation measures and the conduct of scientific research or any other activity recommended in Assembly resolutions, in particular resolution 61/105 and concordant texts, had as their unavoidable legal framework the international law of the sea in force, as reflected in the Convention including its Article 77 and part XIII.  Thus, implementation of such resolutions could not be claimed as an alleged justification for denying or ignoring rights established under the Convention.

He said that nothing in any Assembly resolution affected the sovereign rights of coastal States over their continental shelf or the exercise of jurisdiction by those States with regard to their continental shelf under international law.  Paragraph 123 of the current resolution just adopted contained an extremely relevant reminder of that concept.  In the same vein, paragraph 124 recognized the adoption by coastal States, among them Argentina, of measures to address the impact of bottom fishing on vulnerable maritime ecosystems in the whole extent of their continental shelf, as well as efforts to ensure compliance with those measures.  Finally, he reiterated that the growing divergences relating to the contents of the resolution on “sustainable fisheries” seriously compromised the possibility of its being adopted by consensus in future Assembly sessions.

The representative of Turkey said that his delegation was fully committed to the conservation management and sustainable use of living marine resources and, therefore, supported the text just adopted.  At the same time, the resolution contained references to international instruments to which it was not a party, and those references should not be interpreted as a change in Turkey’s legal position with regard to those instruments.

The representative of Venezuela said her delegation reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with initiatives and efforts regarding sustainable fishery issues.  Yet, the issues that had prevented Venezuela from signing the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement remained valid.

Making a general statement after action, the representative of Brazil welcomed the outcome of the review, by the General Assembly, of the implementation of paragraphs 80 and 83 to 87 of resolution 61/105, as well as paragraphs 117 and 119 to 127 of resolution 64/72, which addressed the impacts of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long term sustainability of deep-sea fish stocks.

She said the sustained role of the General Assembly in monitoring the implementation of those commitments had proved instrumental in stimulating actions to comply with internationally agreed commitments, which were certainly not new, as some dated back to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio.  Such was the case of impact assessments.

The review showed that some progress in that respect had been achieved, but procedures had still to be strengthened, both for carrying out those assessments and making them publicly available.  That was not a new requirement, as it was already reflected in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which stated, among others, that States should facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available.

Brazil was a committed Party to the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement and was convinced of the relevance of the Agreement for the sustainability of straddling and high migratory fish stocks.  Nevertheless, Brazil remained concerned that the mechanisms under Part VII of the Agreement, especially the Fund established thereunder, had thus far fallen short of the expectations of developing State Parties.  In that respect, even though Brazil had learned from the Secretariat that recent financial commitments had been recently made, the report circulated on the status of the Assistance Fund in February this year disclosed the disturbing news that it had then a negative balance of $11,400.  If there was ever an illustration of how a purpose could be defeated, that was it, she said.

Brazil, thus, expected that the appeal contained in paragraphs 30 and 31 of the current resolution would be duly heeded by donor countries.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.