Challenges to Sustainable Use of Fish Resources Will Be Tackled During Key Fish Stocks Agreement Review at United Nations Headquarters, 23-27 May

NEW YORK, 20 May (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) — Improving international measures to address the decline in straddling and highly migratory fish stocks resulting from overfishing in the world’s oceans will be the focus of concern at a conference to be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 23 to 27 May.

The role of the resumed Review Conference on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement is to assess the implementation of the landmark 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement that established a legal regime for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.  It will provide an opportunity for countries to review the implementation of previously adopted measures and consider new measures to address the principal threats to the sustainability of some of the world’s most important commercial fisheries.

In a report in advance of the Conference, the Secretary-General concluded that, since the previous assessment in 2010, there has been a decline in the overall status of highly migratory fish stocks and straddling fish stocks, notwithstanding improvements in the status of some stocks, though information gaps for certain species made analysis difficult.  The Secretary-General also highlighted that universal participation in, and the effective implementation of, the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement was central to realizing the commitments made by States in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, which entered into force in 2001, covers highly migratory species that regularly travel long distances, such as tuna, swordfish and oceanic sharks, as well as straddling stocks that occur both within the exclusive economic zone of coastal States — up to 200 nautical miles offshore — and areas beyond and adjacent to that zone, including cod, halibut, pollock, jack mackerel and squid.

This will be the second resumption of the Review Conference, which was originally convened in 2006 and resumed in 2010.  It will take stock of progress made in the implementation of recommendations it adopted in 2006 and in 2010, many of which led to concerted action to improve fisheries by States and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements.  The resumed Review Conference will be open to countries that are parties to the Fish Stocks Agreement, as well as those that are not parties.  Relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations will also participate in the meeting as observers.

At the twelfth round of informal consultations of States Parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement held on 22 March, which served primarily as a preparatory meeting for the resumed Review Conference, many countries reiterated their strong support for the Agreement and called for its improved implementation, noting that it provided a global framework for the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.  Countries noted with concern the mounting negative impacts on ocean health of human activities, such as overfishing, which also constituted a challenge to sustainable development, while highlighting that healthy oceans were critical for poverty eradication, access to food, and economic development.

About United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement

The United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement is an implementing agreement to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It is considered to be the most important legally binding global instrument to be adopted for the conservation and management of fishery resources since the adoption of the Convention in 1982.

Among its core objectives, the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement sets out principles for the conservation and management of those fish stocks and establishes that such management must be based on the precautionary approach and the best available scientific information.  It elaborates on the fundamental principle established in the Convention that States should cooperate to ensure conservation and promote the objective of the optimum utilization of fisheries resources both within and beyond the exclusive economic zone.

As of April, there are 83 parties to the Agreement:  Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan , Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and the European Union.  Six of these States have become parties to the Agreement since the resumed Review Conference was held in 2010

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