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General Assembly: Plenary

Note:  A complete summary of today’s General Assembly meetings will be made available after their conclusion.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

KATE NEILSON (New Zealand) introduced the draft resolution, “International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction” (document A/72/L.7).  The text would have the Assembly decide to convene an international meeting, determine the conference’s start date and its timing, as well as the necessary details to ensure its smooth functioning.  Noting that New Zealand had also co-sponsored two draft resolutions to be introduced by other speakers, she said her delegation further aligned itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The fore mentioned draft text on areas beyond national jurisdiction would have the Assembly decide that the conference would begin in 2018, with further meetings scheduled for 2019 and 2020, she continued.  It also laid out the conference’s modalities, requested the Secretary-General to nominate a president or presidents of the conference, and asked the United Nations Secretariat to support it.  To date, the text was supported by 133 co-sponsors, she said, expressing hope that additional sponsors would come forward and that the Assembly would adopt it by consensus.  By other terms of the text, the Assembly would decide that the topics to be addressed at the conference would include marine genetic resources, area-based management tools including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity-building, and the transfer of marine technology.

THEMBILE JOYINI (South Africa), introducing an omnibus draft resolution titled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” (document A/72/L.18), said the text recalled the Assembly’s annual resolutions on oceans and the Law of the Sea.  Underscoring the importance of the text on areas beyond national jurisdiction as one critical element, he said the adoption of an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was potentially one of the most significant in international environmental law-making, promising to address the Convention’s legal, governance, regulatory and implementation gaps.  The draft resolution on oceans and the Law of the Sea, meanwhile, welcomed progress in the work of the International Seabed Authority on draft regulations for the exploitation of mineral resources in what was known as the “Area”.

Noting that the Area and its resources were the common heritage of mankind — and meant to benefit humankind as a whole — he said the Authority therefore had a fundamental role to play in ensuring that an appropriate regulatory regime was established in accordance with the Convention.  In addition, it should provide adequate security of tenure for future exploitation of the mineral resources of the Area, while ensuring the effective protection for the marine environment.  Stressing that the clear and literal meaning of the Convention’s article 145 made plain that the Authority had a role to play in the preservation and conservation of the marine environment, he said that solemn responsibility must be carried out faithfully.  The objectives of part XI of the Convention would only be realized when the world moved to the mining phase, which must be accompanied by benefit sharing.  Without such sharing, he warned that “the strong would get stronger, the rich would get richer, and among the rich themselves there would arise an increasing and insuperable differentiation between two or three and the remainder.”

He went on to say that, by other terms of the 56‑page text, the Assembly would also make specific recommendations in such areas as capacity-building; the peaceful settlement of disputes; the continental shelf and the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf; maritime safety; marine biodiversity; marine science; and the global process for reporting on the state of the marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects.  In addition, the Assembly would express serious concern about the number of States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea who were in arrears of their assessed contributions to the International Seabed Authority, as well as about the low attendance at the annual sessions of the Authority’s Assembly.

ANDREAS MOTZFELDT KRAVIK (Norway) introduced the draft resolution, “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/72/L.12).

Fisheries provided a vital source of food, employment, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world, he noted.  The draft addressed critical issues, such as achieving sustainable fisheries, combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and addressing fishing overcapacity and improving subregional and regional cooperation to achieve sustainable development.  The resolution also highlighted the importance of responsible practices for conservation of fisheries resources and the sustainable management and development of fisheries, and recalled the entry into force of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

He said that the text would have the Assembly call on all States that had not done so to become parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  The Assembly would also call on States and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements to assess the risks and potential adverse impacts of climate change with respect to fish stocks, and consider them when establishing conservation and management measures and identifying options to reduce risks and adverse impacts.

Encouraging States to apply precautionary and ecosystem-based approaches when adopting and implementing conservation and management measures, the draft resolution would call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention’s 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and to implement its provisions in their national legislation, as well as regional fisheries management organizations in which they participated.

Proclaiming 5 June as the “International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing” — and inviting the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to serve as lead agency for the Day — he also said that the text would have the Assembly make recommendations in such areas as monitoring, control and surveillance; compliance and enforcement; fishing overcapacity; large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing; and fisheries by-catch and discards.  Among other things, it would encourage States to improve the understanding of the causes and impacts of forced labour and human trafficking in the fishing and aquaculture industries, and to further consider actions to combat those practices, including by raising awareness.

Statements

DIEGO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, thanked the facilitators in drafting the proposed resolution on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, saying that consultation had been conducted in an open and transparent way.  Noting that the Group of 77 was fully committed to the process, he said the draft text represented a compromise to move forward to developing an international legally binding instrument.

He also welcomed the Assembly’s consideration of convening an intergovernmental conference in 2018.  That meeting would take up the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292 on the elements of the text of an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), speaking for the African Group, said conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction was crucial for the future of humankind.  Adding that all member States of his group were co-sponsors of the draft resolution, he pointed out that few drafts not directly initiated by the African Group enjoyed such support within it.

The Group fully supported the decision to convene an intergovernmental conference in 2018 to elaborate a new treaty on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, he continued.  However, it was regrettable that the conference would be held in September, only a few days before the High-level week of the seventy‑third United Nations General Assembly.  Underlining the importance of providing financial contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund to support participation of African States at the conference, he urged stakeholders in a position to do so to widely contribute to that Fund.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the Community remained committed to the full implementation of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  As the cornerstone for regulating all activities pertaining to oceans and seas, the Convention was a central framework for addressing the closely interrelated nature of ocean space problems.  Like many other small island developing countries, the member States of CARICOM were highly vulnerable to the effects of marine pollution, ocean acidification and their impacts on fish stocks and marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, as well as the effect of climate change on sea level rise.  Those factors affected their fishing communities, tourism and its people and economies at all levels.

As evidenced by the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria, the region remained highly susceptible to extreme weather events, but its resolve to better respond to those challenges had strengthened, he said.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first CARICOM country to ban single plastic bags and was expanding the ban to include polystyrene or Styrofoam containers.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines had committed to conserve and sustainably manage at least 20 per cent of its marine and coastal environment by 2020.  Jamaica’s goal was to strengthen the regime governing its protected areas through promulgation of a Cays Management Policy, a new protected areas policy and overarching protected areas legislation.  Guyana was developing a suite of interrelated services to better manage its coastal ecosystem, including data gathering, social mobilization and capacity development.

JANE J. CHIGIYAL (Federated States of Micronesia), speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, said the serious and mounting threats to oceans constituted a serious challenge to achieving sustainable development.  Healthy and productive oceans and seas were essential for the development of any country, particularly those in the Pacific.  She welcomed the first United Nations conference to support the implementation of the goals on oceans.  Pacific small island developing States were not alone in reacting with deep concern to the threats facing the world’s oceans, she noted.

Climate change would be the defining security challenge of the century, she went on to say, reiterating the call for the appointment of a United Nations climate and security expert.  In a similar vein, she noted the relevant role of United Nations reports in lending support and knowledge to the region.  The importance of healthy fisheries could not be overstated.  In particular, tuna had been a source of food and livelihood for the Pacific for centuries.  That fish stock’s decline was of serious concern, she continued, adding that she was pleased to see a “Day of Tuna” included in the new resolution.

ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa), speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, recalled that in September the bloc had endorsed “The Blue Pacific — our security through sustainable development, management and conservation” as its new narrative for the region.  The importance of tuna had been increasing, he noted, with more attention being directed to conservation measures and promoting more sustainable fishing practices in tuna fisheries.  During the first half of 2017, the Pacific Islands Forum had focused its work on the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, held in June.  More than 1,400 voluntary commitments had been registered to drive the Goal’s implementation forward, with Forum members pledging more than 100 voluntary commitments and launching new partnerships.  In September, Forum leaders had also pledged to fast-track developing policies to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic and Styrofoam packaging.

The bloc’s leaders had called for commencing United Nations negotiations for a new Law of the Sea Implementing Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction, he continued.  In that regard, he welcomed the successful conclusion in July of the fourth meeting of the Preparatory Committee and looked forward to the intergovernmental conference mandated by the draft resolution on that topic (document A/72/L.7).  In June, an informal consultative process had examined the effects of climate change on oceans, looking at the science as well as the scale of effects.  Considering that the majority of the Forum members were small island States, effects such as ocean warming, acidification, sea level rises and others had profound socioeconomic consequences for them, highlighting their vulnerability.  More support and sustainable funding for ocean-related activities were needed to mitigate and build resilience against the effects of climate change on oceans.

JOANNE ADAMSON (European Union) said that the resolution, “Oceans and the Law of the Sea”, served to focus on issues in the marine domain, including fisheries and the marine environment.  The second resolution to be adopted on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea reflected customary international law and established the overarching legal framework within which all activities in oceans and seas must be carried out.  The third resolution aimed for a new implementing agreement under the Conventions on the Law of the Sea, addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Discussions and negotiations on that instrument would enable the General Assembly to convene an intergovernmental conference to negotiate a new implementing agreement of the Convention.  However, she voiced concern that one paragraph of recommendations was not an element that generated convergence among most delegations.

Turning to the resolution on sustainable fisheries, she expressed appreciation for the importance it accorded to the need to effectively manage fisheries methods.  One of the main impediments to achieving sustainable fisheries was illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, she said, urging all States to sign up to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  She noted that the topics chosen for the next meetings of the States Parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement were highly relevant, and should help to improve fisheries management in line with the recommendations from the 2016 review conference.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said 2017 had been a fruitful year in the context of developing an internationally legally binding instrument under the 1982 Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

“Following years of discussion, we have finally arrived at a moment where we can expect to embark on intergovernmental, text-based negotiations on the proposed legally binding instrument,” he said, underlining the important recommendations pertaining to the interest of the Group in that regard.  The needs of those nations must be considered to be cross-cutting in nature across the topics identified for inclusion in the proposed legally binding instrument.  As well, the Voluntary Trust Fund played an important role in supporting delegates and experts from least developed countries to participate in the negotiation process.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said the oceans not only provided a livelihood for millions of people through sustaining food security and maritime trade, but also regulated the climate and were an important source of renewable energy.  As a small island State, the oceans and seas were inextricably linked to his country’s survival and wellbeing.  As for the International Seabed Authority, he welcomed the increased outreach by its Secretariat and its restructuring efforts to improve the Authority’s efficiency.  Concerning the preparatory process addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, he expressed support for the draft resolution on the convening of an intergovernmental conference to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the Convention.  Towards that end, he called for a consensual approach that ensured no party was left behind.  Turning to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, he called for a concerted and collective action to address ocean issues on a global scale.

ISABELLE ROSABRUNETTO (Monaco) said that the complexity of challenges facing the world called for a holistic response, particularly in the area of ocean conservation.  The international community must take part in concrete, effective and multi-party partnerships, she added, noting that protection of the environment was linked to the good health of whole societies.  The human impact on the environment ecosystem must be further studied.  All countries benefitted from the use of marine resources and environment protection.  She noted several programmes her country was taking part in to strengthen capacity-building and scientific cooperation.  There was still much work to be done, she said, noting studies showing that marine protected areas played a critical role in combating climate change.  Monaco had participated in several regional and international conferences, and had recently hosted a conference on the Mediterranean Sea.  She also said it was essential to evaluate trends of production and consumption.

JUN HASEBE (Japan), expressing support for the work of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Seabed Authority, said a balanced approach to the exploitation of the deep seabed — taking environmental conservation into account — was needed.  Japan would continue to engage constructively toward the adoption of a rational Exploitation Code in that regard.  Bearing in mind the importance of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he said that his country, alongside the United Nations University, would hold an international symposium in Tokyo on 14 December aimed at raising greater awareness of the Commission’s achievements.  As for maritime safety and security, he underlined the importance of responding to piracy and armed robbery against ships.  With regards to marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, he noted that his delegation had co-sponsored the related draft resolution, adding that he looked forward to contributing to discussions in the forthcoming international conference leading to a well-balanced, effective and universal legally binding instrument.

CAITLIN WILSON (Australia), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, welcomed the annual omnibus resolution on Oceans and the Law of the Sea.  The Convention compelled countries to cooperate to conserve the living resources of the high seas, while also guaranteeing a suite of rights, such as navigation rights, which were vital to shipping and trading nations such as hers.  Turning to illicit wildlife trafficking, she pointed out that it threatened the survival of marine species such as corals, clams, seahorses and turtles.  Transnational criminal networks often used marine routes as part of their trafficking supply chain, she said, adding that the resolution highlighted the relevance of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes in addressing that issue.

MOHAMMAD H. M. S. ALAJMI (Kuwait) said that the maritime transport sector was considered the primary factor for trade and economic growth for most countries.  Ships transported some 80 per cent of goods around the world.  Therefore, piracy and terrorism aimed at ships constituted a serious threat to trade and those working on ships.  “We cannot defeat such challenges without the concerted efforts of the international community,” he said, urging collaboration and cooperation among countries.  He also called on all Member States to launch joint endeavours that would allow all to benefit from marine resources.  Furthermore, all Member States must commit to relevant international treaties and promote international peace and security.

MICHAEL BONSER (Canada) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the sustainable management of its fisheries, as well as to surpassing the international marine conservation targets.  After years of effort, the international community was about to enter a critical phase in the development of the Agreement addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Stressing that scientific evidence pointed to climate change as one of the greatest threats of the current era, he highlighted its widespread impacts on oceans, ranging from coastal flooding to the expanding melt of sea ice in the Arctic.  Canadian marine scientists were pursuing research on climate change and ocean acidification through the Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program which aimed at informing future policy development and evidence-based resource management decisions.

MATTHIAS G. PALSSON (Iceland), noting that livelihoods in his country had depended on sustainable use of ocean resources for centuries, said that sea law had never been more challenging due to the need to respond to the results of human activity.  The effects of climate change were already being felt in his country.  Concerted international action was needed to protect Arctic waters, he stressed, reporting that his country and nine other parties had last week negotiated a draft agreement to prevent unregulated fisheries in parts of that region.  Marine litter, as well as comprehensive implementation of the various ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals were also priorities.  Iceland had been an active participant in negotiations on a framework for biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  He urged that every effort be made to reach a consensus-based text on that topic despite its complexity.  However, issues that were already subject to adequate international regimes should not be re-negotiated or subject to conflicting regimes, he said, adding that it was critical to take all the time needed to produce a successful and long-lasting outcome.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) said that sustainable ocean management was critical for an archipelagic country such as his.  Oceans were not only a source of life-giving goods, everything about them were living.  As a party to the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement, the Philippines was committed to the conservation of, and sustainable access to standing and highly migratory fish stocks — within and beyond the exclusive economic zone.  Collective neglect and greedy exhaustion of the oceans’ resources for immediate gain, and at the cost of irreversible damage, had resulted in ever smaller fisheries catch and in the worsening illicit trafficking in protected species.  It also had resulted in ocean acidification, coral bleaching, sea-level rise, coastal flooding and deadlier tropical cyclones brought on by ocean warming.  His country supported the strengthening of capacity-building, along with the transfer of marine technology, education and the sharing of traditional knowledge on oceans issues, including in the prevention of the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking by sea and in fighting piracy.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea struck a delicate balance between States’ rights and obligations; that must always be carefully respected.  Expressing support for the convening of a conference on the important issue of marine biodiversity in zones beyond national jurisdiction, he underlined the need to take account of the conservation and sustainable use of such resources.  In 1970, the Assembly had declared zones beyond national jurisdiction to be the common heritage of all mankind.  Noting that 2017 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, he expressed concern about that body’s inadequate service conditions, including its staff’s lack of medical coverage.  Stressing that all negotiations related to the Law of the Sea should continue to be adopted by consensus, he expressed concern over statements made by some parties seeking to legitimize regional fisheries management mechanisms whose activities went beyond their scope and orbit, or which assumed authority over vessels flying the flags of countries that were not parties to those organizations.  He voiced further concern over attempts to legitimize the actions by some groups of States, which were trying to establish regulations over marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, even before a legal instrument on those matters had been developed.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta) recalled that 50 years ago, his country’s then permanent representative, Arvid Pardo had stated that the seabed, ocean floor and sub-soil were “the common heritage of mankind” and should be used for peaceful purposes and for the exclusive benefit of humanity.  That stance earned Mr. Pardo the title of “Father of the Modern Law of the Sea”.  On 15 December, Malta would host an international symposium to discuss global ocean governance, he continued, adding his support for the establishment of an intergovernmental panel on ocean governance to address the current fragmented state of affairs still governing the ocean, despite the very valuable and indispensable work being undertaken by the United Nations.

WU HAITAO (China) said that his country’s Belt and Road Initiative, in particular the building of the twenty-first century Maritime Silk Road, would strongly boost international cooperation in ocean affairs under the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and benefit sharing.  Those efforts would strike a balance between protection and sustainable use of the oceans, while promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The proposed draft agreement on marine biological diversity neither covered all items nor represented consensus and would have, as such, no effect on future positions of parties.  Regulations addressing the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area must be commensurate with the current level of human activities in and knowledge of the Area.

At a Glance – Plenary round-up ? Strasbourg, October I 2017 – 06-10-2017

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, October I 2017

06-10-2017

The adoption of Parliament’s resolution on the state of play of the Brexit negotiations was one of the main points of the October I plenary session, as was a debate on the constitution, rule of law and fundamental rights in Spain. Other subjects debated during the week included the cancellation of flights by Ryanair, the forthcoming COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, the situation in Moldova and breaches of human rights in Africa, Ukraine and the Maldives. As for legislative procedures, Members voted, inter alia, on proposals for three directives related to the safety of passenger ships and on the incorporation of recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) into EU law. Parliament also gave its consent to establishing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, following a procedure introduced under enhanced cooperation between 20 Member States. The Office is intended to cooperate closely with Eurojust in order to investigate and prosecute crimes against financial interests of the Union. This ‘at a glance’ note is intended to review some of the highlights of the plenary part-session, and notably to follow up on key dossiers identified by EPRS. It does not aim to be exhaustive. For more detailed information on specific files, please see other EPRS products, notably our ‘legislation in progress’ briefings, as well as the plenary minutes.

The adoption of Parliament’s resolution on the state of play of the Brexit negotiations was one of the main points of the October I plenary session, as was a debate on the constitution, rule of law and fundamental rights in Spain. Other subjects debated during the week included the cancellation of flights by Ryanair, the forthcoming COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, the situation in Moldova and breaches of human rights in Africa, Ukraine and the Maldives. As for legislative procedures, Members voted, inter alia, on proposals for three directives related to the safety of passenger ships and on the incorporation of recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) into EU law. Parliament also gave its consent to establishing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, following a procedure introduced under enhanced cooperation between 20 Member States. The Office is intended to cooperate closely with Eurojust in order to investigate and prosecute crimes against financial interests of the Union. This ‘at a glance’ note is intended to review some of the highlights of the plenary part-session, and notably to follow up on key dossiers identified by EPRS. It does not aim to be exhaustive. For more detailed information on specific files, please see other EPRS products, notably our ‘legislation in progress’ briefings, as well as the plenary minutes.

Minutes – Wednesday, 21 June 2017 – PE 606.139v01-00 – Committee on Fisheries

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Video of a committee meeting – Wednesday, 21 June 2017 – 09:53 – Committee on Fisheries

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Vital Marine Habitats Being Destroyed by Illegal Fishing Practices, Harmful Subsidies, Speakers Warn at United Nations Ocean Conference

Speakers in the United Nations Ocean Conference today tackled ways to combat illegal fishing practices that were destroying vital marine habitats, as well as eliminate the $35 billion in harmful subsidies that had led to overfishing, distorted markets and chronic mismanagement of the world’s fisheries.

In a morning partnership dialogue on “Making fisheries sustainable”, panellist Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said trade negotiations in the area of harmful fisheries subsidies were referenced in Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.  The World Trade Organization was in intense negotiations to come up with agreed language on the prohibition of subsidies at its December Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

He said questions hinged on how to identify such behaviour without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization, citing other challenges around providing “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers without undercutting those disciplines.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.

Panellist Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), agreed that harmful subsides could be stopped through WTO.  Multi-stakeholder and targeted support to help coastal communities get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that FAO was prepared to help develop a plan to rebuild fisheries.

On the issue of illegal fishing, Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, who co-chaired the meeting, said the problem should be addressed by a global coalition.  For its part, Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million and seizing repeat offenders.  It also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas and ratified the Port State Measures Agreement.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of Government, industry and civil society exchanged ideas for addressing those problems, with Norway’s representative stressing that illegal fishing amounted to “stealing from dinner tables”.  Vanuatu’s delegate cited a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters, while the representative of the Republic of Korea, meanwhile, was one of several who pointed to the Port State Measures Agreement as a way to deter those practices.

A speaker from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial fishing operations that used bottom-trolling and dredging techniques.  She recommended designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers and banning harmful fisheries subsidies.

In the afternoon, the Conference held a partnership dialogue on “Increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Co-Chair Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, opened the discussion with a call for more investment in marine technology and an embrace of broad-based wealth creation.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared, pointing out that in Grenada, mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.

Along similar lines, Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment of Estonia, who also co-chaired the meeting, said empowering local communities was essential.  Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  Cooperative associations had helped to improve market access.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power.

The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 June.

Partnership Dialogue I

In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “making fisheries sustainable”.  Moderated by Anthony Long, Director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard of Canada, and Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, it featured a panel discussion by Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States; Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); and Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat.

Mr. LEBLANC said Canada was a proud maritime nation, with fisheries and aquaculture contributing $9 billion to its economy each year, generating countless jobs in rural, coastal and indigenous communities.  The fisheries sector provided the backbone for many national and small-scale economies.  Noting that sustainable fisheries were key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said “we need to make a more concerted effort to tackle such things as illegal fishing, underreporting and harmful subsidies that result in over-capacity.”  With international action as the common goal, WTO provided the venue and means to achieve enforceable fisheries subsidies rules.  Fisheries management played an important role in conservation and had led to positive biodiversity outcomes, with a range of measures that protected to single stocks and the ecosystems upon which they relied.  Those conservation objectives must be incorporated into fisheries management plans.  Marine protected areas were an essential component of sustainable fisheries management.  Canada had adopted a milestone to conserve 5 per cent of its waters by the end of 2017, as a sign of its commitment to conserving 10 per cent by 2020.  Describing Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change as “unwavering”, he also underscored the importance of its partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, environmental groups and industry in advancing the marine conservation agenda.

Mr. GUÈYE said Senegal was a country of fisheries, with 6,000 actors working in that sector and 75 per cent of people’s animal protein needs coming from fish and marine life.  “Senegal is very interested in sustainable fisheries,” he said, pointing to a law that reserved space for artisanal fisheries, within which large industrial fisheries were prohibited.  In the south, all vessels were banned from approaching the coast.  Senegal also had revised its fisheries code, which now allowed for trout to be fished at 40 centimetres, rather than 20 centimetres, with the greater depths allowing more time for the fish to multiply.  Underscoring the need to combat large-scale fishing, he said another aspect was to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, which should be addressed in the most appropriate manner by a global coalition.  Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million, and seizing repeat offenders.  The Government also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas, acceded to a forum that ensured transparency in the fisheries industry, and ratified the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  “We have high hopes for this meeting,” he said, and for strong measures to be taken.

Mr. MATHIESEN said fisheries today faced many different problems.  Three, however, stood out, and if they were tackled and solved, other problems would be easier to resolve.  Those three problems included illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the difficulty of managing migrating fish stocks on the high seas and in sovereign coastal waters; and improving the status of coastal fishing communities in developing countries, including small island developing States.  Several factors drove those problems, including an estimated $35 billion in harmful subsidies, population growth, poverty, economic and forced migration, climate change and unprecedented levels of climate events.  Solutions would include improved science-based local, national and regional fisheries management, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could be addressed through existing instruments.  Strong regional management models were in place, but they required political, scientific and financial support.  Harmful subsidies could be stopped through WTO.  A multi-stakeholder and targeted approach to support coastal communities and get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that the FAO was prepared to help develop a blueprint to rebuild fisheries.

Ms. KEMMERLY said that, about 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations launched a movement that sought to create market demand for sustainable seafood which involved, among other things, encouraging businesses to use their market leverage to improve policy, traceability and social responsibility.  For the non-governmental organization community, sustainability was not just an environmental matter, but also a question of social responsibility.  While mainly focused so far in the United States and the European Union, the sustainable seafood movement was growing in other places, such as Brazil, Japan and South-East Asia.  She went on to describe efforts being made with regard to tuna, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation engaged in reporting, conservation and traceability measures, and with shrimp, a sector that would require making sustainability profitable for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in South-East Asia.

Mr. BRAUNER said trade negotiations in the area of harmful subsidies were referenced in target 14.6.  It was natural that WTO, the only organization with binding rules and subsidies, and a conceptual approach, was the venue for subsidies negotiations.  WTO fisheries subsidies work had been reenergized by target 14.6, with proposals coming in to fulfil WTO’s part of that target.  WTO was in a period of intense negotiations with proposals from least developed countries, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, European Union, a group of Latin American countries, New Zealand and Indonesia, all pushing hard for a binding decision to be made at the December ministerial conference.  There was emerging convergence on the prohibition of subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, referred to in target 14.6, and on the prohibition of subsidies for overfished stocks.  Questions hinged on how to identify such behavior, without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization.  Some developing countries did not want fisheries-management references in the treaty, whereas others said that without such points, subsidies discipline would be impossible.

Another challenge, he continued, was how to provide “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers and develop their own fisheries, without undercutting those disciplines.  WTO’s business was about trade flows and products produced on land.  Those taking place under water involved internationally shared resources or those outside national jurisdiction.  For such reasons, the effect of subsidies was not on trade in fish products, but rather on access to resources, with an indirect effect on trade.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.  Target 14.6 represented a commitment by all Governments — individually — to eliminate harmful fishery subsidies.  In parallel, there was a WTO process under way to achieve a multilateral agreement prohibiting illegal fishing.  There was a possibility for that outcome this year, representing WTO’s contribution to meeting the 2020 date for eliminating the most harmful fishing subsidies.  Such an agreement could undergird individual Government fisheries subsidies reform, which in turn, should facilitate multilateral agreement.

Mr. HAUGHTON said the benefits of creating sustainable fisheries depended on how States implemented governance and management reforms to conserve and protect the marine environment.  “This is undoubtedly the single most important challenge for fisheries in this generation,” he said, noting that the Caribbean Sea was semi-enclosed, representing one interconnected marine ecosystem.  Stocks were shared between two or more States, and in some cases, extended into the high seas.  Cooperation was fundamental for fisheries management.  Caribbean Governments in 2002 had established a regional fisheries body to facilitate cooperation and conservation of fisheries resources.  It was comprised of a ministerial council, a fisheries forum, a permanent secretariat and a number of technical and scientific working groups.  There were three other fisheries bodies that were in the region.

He said small island developing States had multispecies fisheries served by small, open vessels, noting that most commercially important stocks in the region had been over-exploited, while others had not significantly contributed to economic development.  Despite that catches over the last decade were 30 per cent lower than the 30-year average, the overall production trend had been positive.  The regional fisheries management bodies were investing more of their own resources to harmonize their practices.  Partnerships had grown among small-scale operators.  Partnership between and among the three main fisheries bodies had taken the form of formal cooperation agreements to strengthen fisheries management.  More broadly, such partnerships had helped “enormously” in transitioning the region towards sustainable fisheries management.

In the ensuing discussion, Heads of Government, ministers, other senior officials and representatives of Member States, international organizations and civil society covered a wide range of fisheries-related issues, from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries to zone-based fisheries management and the little-mentioned place of Caribbean sport fishing.

SEREMAIAH MATAI NAWALU, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-security of Vanuatu, said managing Pacific fisheries through monitoring, control and surveillance efforts, particularly against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, remained a big battle for the Pacific region.  There was also a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters.  Tackling those problems and others required a multilateral and integrated approach.

ENELE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, underscored an urgent need for capacity-building, legislation and enforcement measures.  Expressing concern over the weak management of high-seas fisheries, he called on partner nations to adhere to zone-based fisheries management approaches.  He added that an ongoing process under United Nations auspices was required to ensure a commitment to healthy oceans.

TONE SKOGEN, State Secretary of Norway, said illegal fishing amounted to stealing from dinner tables.  The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which recently came into force, would make illegal fishing less attractive.  Due to continuous research, annually revised regulations and enforcement, Norway’s commercial fish stocks were in good condition.

The representative of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency recommended zone-based management as a way to empower States to better manage their marine resources while promoting sustainable development.  Noting that Pacific Island countries had a long history of cooperation and investment, he said data-sharing, collaborative asset deployment and other forms of partnership had made a difference in the level of illegal tuna fishing in the region.

The representative of the British Virgin Islands said not much was said about sport fishing, but that activity involved valuable species that were important to marine ecological systems.  He outlined a number of measures being taken in that regard by the territory, including a strengthened licensing regime, assessing the impact of the number of vessels on the water, and controlling the number and duration of fishing tournaments.  He went on to reiterate the British Virgin Island’s commitment to protect reefs and sharks.

Mr. BRAUER, on that point, replied that it was a matter of choosing the most appropriate format for the region.

The representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that the Port State Measures Agreement would help deter illegal fishing.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said his country comprised some 50,000 people, living on 104 square miles of land surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.  He described a strategic plan for the Government, working with various stakeholders, to chart the course for making fisheries sustainable, by underscoring the need for greater participation among all stakeholders, and more attention to disaster risk management.

The representative of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said 90 per cent of fishers were in the small-scale sector, which provided half of the world’s catches and more than 60 per cent of fish for human consumption.  Marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial-scale fishing operations.  Underscoring the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, she said large-scale, non-selective fishing was the greatest negative impact on the marine habitat, much of it conducted through bottom-trolling and dredging, which destroyed fish habitats.  Those practices must be tackled by designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers, and banning harmful fisheries subsidies, including for fuel.

The representative of Iceland said the Government was marking the ocean floor in its exclusive economic zone using multibeam techniques, efforts that were vital to the sustainable use of marine life.  She highlighted Iceland’s commitment on the adoption of formal fisheries management plans, stressing that in the international context, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was the main framework for sustainable management, as long as States met their obligations and worked together.

The representative of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) said its cooperation with law enforcement in the Caribbean had led to the arrest in July 2016 of a vessel carrying out illegal fishing.  Through “Project Scale”, INTERPOL agents in Lyon, with experience in fisheries crime, carried out criminal analysis of illegal fishing activities, which were often linked to human trafficking.  INTERPOL offered a holistic approach, providing and reading notices, and sharing information on the modalities of fisheries crime.  There was also a secure network that linked States and provided investigative support to certain cases.

The representative of Spain underscored the need to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which he called a “blight” on the seas that destroyed the profitability of companies that complied with rules and regulations.

The representative of Friends of Marine Life said coastal communities in India had been pursuing sustainable fishing practices for centuries, employing traditional knowledge.  However, mega-projects were threatening their livelihoods, he said, identifying — among other challenges — the problems posed by bottom trawling, breakwater construction and overfishing by large vessels supported by large business lobbies.

The representative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the elimination of harmful subsidies was central to the multilateral trade agenda.  Fish subsidies contributed to distorting market prices, encouraged unfair competition and expanded inequality between developed and developing countries.  With attention to the issue gaining momentum, he said Member States should work towards a common text for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

The representative of Indonesia said there should be a designated body to ensure that the right of oceans to be protected was not bothered by political change or agendas.  The high seas meanwhile needed to be better managed so that distant-country fishing did not harm resource sustainability, she said, adding that the General Assembly should, in its resolutions, acknowledge transnational fisheries crimes.

MARCELO MENA, Minister for Environment of Chile, said his country was specifically combatting illegal fishing and working actively to eliminate harmful subsidies.  In its opinion, stronger international cooperation and regulation — within the framework of existing multilateral agreements and regional fisheries management associations — was needed.  It was vital, he added, to know more about the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture and to set out plans accordingly.

The representative of the Marine Stewardship Council said its certification and labelling programmes for seafood caught in the wild provided an incentive for other fisheries to improve their performance.  Putting the size of the market for certified and traceable seafood products at $5 billion, he said credible certification had an important contribution to make to address the problem of overfishing.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of Thailand, Gabon, Marshall Islands and Sweden.

Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Bank, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Vulcan, Inc., International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Comunidad y Biodiversidad and World Economic Forum also spoke.

Partnership Dialogue II

The afternoon featured a dialogue partnership titled “increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries, and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Moderated by Meg Taylor, Pacific Ocean Commissioner, it featured presentations by Mohamed Shainee, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Maldives; Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, United Nations; Laura Tuck, Vice-President for Sustainable Development, World Bank Group; and Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of Caribbean Network Fisherfolk Organization.  The dialogue was co-chaired by Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment, Estonia.

Mr. MITCHELL said the issue of jobs and livelihoods that allowed economies to capture more economic value was a common thread for today’s discussion.  “I feel strongly that we need more investment in marine technology,” he said, applicable to small island developing States and least developed countries alike.  On one hand, States must ensure that artisanal fishers were custodians of their marine resources and sustainably reaping the economic benefits.  On the other hand, they must reduce pressures on the resources by providing alternatives and more rewarding livelihoods for coastal communities.  In Africa, for example, mobile phones allowed fishers to check market prices while at sea, leading to better prices for fish, less wastage and more environmental conservation.

Similarly in Grenada, he said mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.  “To lift our people, we must embrace broad-based wealth creation through innovation and technology,” he said, underscoring Grenada’s commitment to the Blue Innovation Institute, which would be a hub for innovation in coastal planning, natural capital enhancement, aquaculture and biotechnology.  Indeed, the size of small islands should be seen as a distinct advantage.  Those countries should be viewed as large ocean States.  He urged embracing the optimism around blue growth, and the idea that, by 2030, such economies had the potential to outpace global economic growth.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology-transfer handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared.

Mr. POMERANTS said Estonia, a small eastern European country, was roughly the size of the Dominican Republic, with 1.3 million people.  It boasted a maritime area almost as large as its mainland, with one of the world’s longest coastlines per capita and some 1,200 islands.  Small-scale coastal fisheries were an important part of its cultural heritage, and as a sea-faring people, “you can find an Estonian in every port in the world”.  Estonia was sharing its best practices through technology transfer and capacity-building.  The key to sustainability lay in a holistic and integrated framework.

Given the transboundary nature of ecosystems, he said the best results had been achieved by regional marine governance frameworks that facilitated cooperation.  His region’s organization — HELCOM — facilitated marine research, with policies based on the best scientific data.  To improve access for small-scale artisanal fisheries, empowering local communities was essential, he said, stressing that Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  To improve market access, his country had achieved success through cooperative associations.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power in terms of price setting.  Community involvement was instrumental to achieving Goal 14, he said, noting that Estonia’s reputation as a digital pioneer could help other countries redefine governance through its e-governance platform.  To ensure sustainable fisheries management, an online fishing permit system had been set up, which today issued 90 per cent of recreational licenses.

Ms. TAYLOR said that, as a Pacific Islander, she hailed from a region dominated — depending on one’s point of view — by small island developing States or big ocean-stewardship States, where the importance of coastal fisheries could not be overstated.  Fishing was a primary source of protein, fish consumption was among the highest in the world and inshore fisheries provided income for 50 per cent of all households.  The interactive discussion could be informed not only by Goal 14, but by other Goals, such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, gender equality and combating climate change.

Mr. SHAINEE said “we don’t talk about issues facing oceans nearly enough”, yet few places depended on oceans more than small island developing States.  Today’s partnership dialogue theme thus addressed what those States could do in their own backyards.  Discussing the situation in Maldives, he attributed the success of its tourism industry — which accounted for 28 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) — to the recognition of its natural heritage as its biggest asset.  Resort development was regulated with a view to protecting the environment, with architecture blending into the natural surroundings.  Upon determining that shark tourism produced more revenue than shark fishing, Maldives declared its entire exclusive economic zone as a shark sanctuary.  Turning to tuna, he said that by catching them on a one-by-one basis, Maldives had created one of the world’s leanest and greenest fisheries which recognized that consumers would pay more for sustainably harvested products.  More tuna meant more sharks and healthier reefs, which attracted tourism, with the benefits multiplying accordingly, he said.

Ms. ‘UTOIKAMANU said Goal 14 was important for nations in special situations such as least developed countries and small island developing States where millions of people depended on marine resources for nutrition and livelihood.  Noting that the national fishing capacity of small island developing States was limited, she emphasized the importance of ongoing cooperation with distant water fishing nations and the international community at large.  Countries in special situations were meanwhile vulnerable to external shocks, as well as rapid population growth, urban congestion, climate change and imported food and energy.  Long-term efforts could be undone in a matter of hours, she said.  Turning to the tourism sector, she said it was critical for small island developing States and least developed countries, having lifted some of the latter into middle-income status.  Tourism could help States meet several Sustainable Development Goals, but if not properly managed, it could degrade the environment.  Water scarcity was another concern, as peak tourist seasons often coincided with dry seasons.  Managing water resources would require a package of relevant measures, but with the right set of incentives and regulations, water management could be improved for all.

Ms. TUCK discussed the Bank’s “Sunken Billions” report which found that, because of overfishing, global fisheries forego more than $80 billion a year, compared to an optimal scenario.  It examined what would happen if fishing was reduced by 44 per cent over an unspecific period of time.  It found that the biomass of fish would almost triple.  Fish would be larger and have a higher value.  If fishing was reduced by 5 per cent annually for 10 years from its 2012 level, the optimal level would be achieved by 2030.  “Sunken billions” referred to the mismatch between increasing fishing efforts and the declining catch.  Giving the oceans a break would lead to increased catch and increased income at the local level.  “We need good governance and capable institutions to ensure that changes are sustainable,” she said.  For example, after decades of being prices takers, the parties to Nauru Agreement gathered in 2008 to use their huge tuna resources as leverage in the Vessel Day Scheme to reduce the fishing effort.  Through a $40 million Pacific region ocean project, the Bank was working to strengthen their capacity and ensure those gains were sustained.  In Kiribati, the financial institution’s technical assistance was helping the Government collect revenue from access fees paid by vessels into an $800 million sovereign wealth fund.  In all such cases, the Bank was supporting measures to enforce tenure rights, and ensure that fishing communities and operators were involved in decisions on fisheries management.

Mr. LAY recommended that States recognize and enhance the contributions of small-scale fisheries to their economies, as well as promote and ensure the security of tenure, in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.  To enhance productivity, he recommended looking at how to sustainably use the significant — but either un- or under-utilized — ocean resources of many small island developing States, which could supply local populations with adequate food.  Addressing marketing and value-added aspects, he said the entire fish often was not used, which translated to suboptimal food and economic benefit.  Energy production and related activities should be carefully considered so as not to negatively impact small-scale fisheries.  Further, Governments should consider expanding local market access, as small island developing States often produced less than they consumed and lacked effective local marketing mechanisms.  Access and governance issues must be grounded in local realities, especially when considering marine protected areas, which limited small-scale fisheries access.  Similarly, tourism should not negatively impact small-scale fisheries, and conversely, the linkages between fisheries and tourism should be deepened in the context of food and recreational activities, while promoting local livelihoods.  He also advocated support for the development of small-scale fisheries organizations.  “This is the precondition for meaningful participation in the decision making process,” he said.  “If we create spaces for participation, States should carve out support for small-scale fisheries to fill those spaces.”

In the ensuing discussion, participants explored ways to support small island developing countries and, more specifically, access of their small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

BARON WAQA, President of Nauru, said countries that benefited from the exploitation of his nation’s tuna stocks must do more to share the burden that such fishing entailed.  Artisanal fishers could be supported through enhanced access to resources and markets, he said, adding that Nauru sought to establish long-term and productive partnerships that would unlock the full potential of sustainable ocean development.

The representative of Seychelles said his country had pioneered a financial instrument to raise $15 million in capital from private investors interested in putting money into sustainable development, including marine conservation, fisheries governance and the diversification of value chains.

The representative of Australia discussed her country’s official development assistance (ODA) in the Indo-Pacific region, including a programme that would support Pacific Island countries to delineate their maritime boundaries.  Another initiative would provide support to prevent and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The representative of Rare said the next 10 years must focus on community-led solutions and small-scale fishers, many of whom were women.  His non-governmental organization was committed to mobilizing $100 million to support the sustainability of small-scale fisheries.

GALE RIGOBERT, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, said international quota management mechanisms must act in a way that did not disadvantage small island developing States.  Noting that only so much could be achieved without appropriate assistance, she said genuine, mutually beneficial and durable partnerships were needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of the International Renewable Energy Agency described the “SIDS [small island developing States] Lighthouse” initiative to transform energy systems and help those States integrate renewables into their energy mix.  The agency saw big opportunities in ocean energy technology and had recently updated its patent study.

The representative of New Zealand said 60 per cent of the global tuna catch was harvested in the Pacific region.  Yet, Pacific nations received only a small proportion of the market value of that resource.  New Zealand had invested $54 million to improve sustainable fish management and address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, notably working with the Cook Islands to set up a catch quota system.  She urged countries to cooperate in the establishment of effective WTO disciplines on harmful subsidies.

The representative of Denmark said there were 406 islands in her country, and its marine resources were an integral part of the economy.  Since 2007, Denmark had allocated more fish stocks to coastal fishermen.  More broadly, small island developing States’ dependence on fossil fuels was unsustainable.  As such, Denmark had helped create the SIDS DOCK Support Program, establishing stations to connect small islands’ energy centres — notably in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sao Tome and Principe — with global markets.

The representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat said 45 of its 52 members were island States, where fish constituted more than 50 per cent of exports.  She called for addressing harmful subsidies that distorted markets, stressing that national maritime resources had been extracted by third parties without sufficient financial capture on behalf of the State and its citizens.  She proposed the creation of a Blue Commonwealth Charter, which would apply to sustainable oceans economic development, stressing that truly blue economic development must be done in a way that preserved ocean health.

The representative of Conservation International announced a voluntary commitment on social responsibility in global fisheries and aquaculture, as well as a financing commitment for community-managed conservation mosaics along Colombia’s Pacific coast.  Called La Minga — or “Everyone Together” — it would combine community, national and regional budget allocations and a $5 million endowment.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said the ocean and its resources offered food security and jobs for 15,000 people in his country, 80 per cent of whom were women.  Papua New Guinea was engaged domestically, regionally and globally, particularly as a party to the Nauru Agreement.

The representative of FAO drew attention to the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, adopted in 2014.

The representative of India said his country’s assistance to small island developing States and littoral least-developed countries included capacity-building, such as the provision of satellite-based information that promoted more efficient fishing.  He added that, to ensure better market access for artisanal fishers, sanitary trade barriers should be addressed under the aegis of WTO.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said her country had adopted globally recognized approaches and tools to alleviate conflicts between artisanal fishers and offshore oil and gas activities.  She also discussed efforts to exploit lion fish for economic benefit by training and incentivizing fishers to target that invasive species and to encourage its consumption by the general public.

The representative of the International Whaling Commission said her organization was studying the impact of whale-watching on individual whales, their population and habitats.  It had also developed a web-based whale-watching handbook to provide relevant information to operators, regulators and the public that included maps, information on species and case studies to assist decision-making.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of the Solomon Islands, Madagascar and Kiribati.

Representatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas Consortium, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CORDIO East Africa, The Nature Conservancy, French Polynesia, Pacific Island Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and the International Seabed Authority also spoke.