UNGA Adopts Resolutions Addressing Sustainable Fisheries and Marine Biodiversity

7 December 2010: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted two resolutions calling on all States to bolster their support for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and highlighting the threats faced by marine biodiversity, among other things.

The two resolutions are: the UNGA's 38-page omnibus resolution on "oceans and the law of the sea" (A/RES/65/37); and the resolution on "sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks" (A/RES/65/38).

On fisheries, Belgium, on behalf of the EU, noted the global importance of stocks of small pelagic fish, and that the demand for those stocks was on the rise, in particular in developing countries. He expressed concern over the fact that such demand is affecting the long-term sustainability of reserves. Norway called for initiating measures to reduce fish discards. A number of speakers addressed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Tunisia underlined the need to address it and said more must be done to close the gaps in fisheries governance. Norway cited an “important milestone” in the global fight against IUU fishing: the adoption by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the Agreement on Port States Measures. China indicated it would continue to work with interested States to promote an improved international fisheries regime aimed at ensuring marine ecological balance.

On vulnerable marine ecosystems, Belgium, on behalf of the EU, said the EU and its member States remained fully involved in the maintenance of vulnerable marine ecosystems and deepwater fish stocks, and supported measures outlined in Assembly resolutions 61/105 and 64/72.

On marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, Indonesia underlined its "unwavering" commitment to the customary principle of common heritage of mankind. Japan recognized the Assembly's role in facilitating protection of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. Argentina expressed concern with certain proposals that could have overburdened the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group, which needed to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. He reminded the Assembly that the question of the legal regime was unresolved and should be addressed in the Working Group's next session. Tunisia recalled that the legal regime for genetic resources in those areas was still outstanding. China underscored the need to balance the protection and use of biodiversity in such areas, taking into account developing nations' dependence on oceans.

On marine genetic resources, Ecuador and Cuba said all marine genetic resources were the common heritage of mankind and must benefit all mankind. Norway addressed the role of regional environmental organizations in protecting maritime biodiversity, noting the example of the Oslo-Paris Convention for the protection of the marine environment in the North-East Atlantic. Kuwait called for a more integrated method to examine the threats posed by climate change to marine biodiversity and strengthen its conservation. [UN Press Release] [Resolution on Sustainable Fisheries, Issued 30 March 2011]