DECLARATION ON DEEP-SEA BOTTOM TRAWLING TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY IN THE HIGH SEAS

RECALLING the decision of the 36th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in October 2005 to develop an appropriate legal framework to manage deep-sea bottom trawling to protect biodiversity in the high seas;
FURTHER RECALLING the 4th Pacific Community Conference in Palau in November 2005 that agreed with respect to deep-sea bottom trawling and high seas seamounts that SPC should work with FFA and other partners to develop an appropriate management framework for consideration by members;
RECALLING the Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in 2002 which aims to ensure the future sustainable use of our oceans and its resources by Pacific Island communities and partners, and the need to establish high-level leadership on oceans issues;
RECOGNISING the critical importance of marine resources to the Pacific Island peoples;
SERIOUSLY CONCERNED about the sustainability of fish stocks and the effects of destructive fishing practices on the marine environment, including high seas bottom trawling that has adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems;
CONSCIOUS of the need to avoid adverse impacts on the marine environment, preserve biodiversity, maintain the integrity of marine ecosystems and minimise the risk of long-term or irreversible effects of fishing operations;
NOTING that it is in the mutual interest of all fishing nations active in the region, and the Pacific Islands, to protect and preserve the marine environment;
FURTHER NOTING the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction in the “Western Tropical Pacific Island Area” *1 should be based on the precautionary and ecosystem approaches using the best available science;

1 The Western Tropical Pacific Islands Area (WTPIA) is defined by the exclusive economic zones of Pacific Island countries and territories in the tropical region and any high seas enclaves enclosed by those exclusive economic zones.

RECALLING the United Nations General Assembly resolution 59/25 which called upon States, either by themselves or through regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements, where these are competent to do so, to take action urgently, and consider on a case-by-case basis and on a scientific basis, including the application of the precautionary approach, the interim prohibition of destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling that has adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems, including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold water corals located beyond national jurisdiction, until such time as appropriate conservation and management measures have been adopted in accordance with international law; (2004 UNGA Resolution 59/25);
RECALLING the relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and in particular Articles 117, 118, 119, 192, 194(5), 197 and 206;
FURTHER RECALLING the relevant provisions of the United Nations Agreement to Implement the relevant provisions of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention relating to straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, and in particular Articles 5 and 6;
WELCOMING the ongoing discussions to establish a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO), and supportive of efforts to cooperate to establish interim targeted protection mechanisms for vulnerable marine ecosystems;
COMMITS the members of the Pacific Islands Forum to urgently take actions consistent with international law to prevent destructive fishing practices on seamounts in the Western Tropical Pacific Islands Area (WTPIA) and to prevent destructive fishing practices in other areas of high seas in the WTPIA until an appropriate environmental impact assessment has been carried out, effective conservation and management measures are implemented to protect affected ecosystems, and effective monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement measures are in place to ensure that the measures are properly implemented and adhered to;
CALLS UPON members of the Pacific Islands Forum to advocate for an interim prohibition on destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling in areas beyond national jurisdiction where there is no RMFO under negotiation until appropriate conservation and measurement measures are in place; and to advance international efforts to institute an immediate interim prohibition on destructive fishing practices including bottom trawling in these areas;
CALLS UPON members of the Pacific Islands Forum to advocate for interim conservation and management measures in areas where they are negotiating an RFMO by 31 July 2007. In the absence of such interim measures, calls upon states to advocate for an interim prohibition on destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling beginning on 1 August 2007 until such measures are in place;
DETERMINES, to this end, to convene a meeting of regional fisheries management experts and legal advisers to contribute to the development of model legislation to guide the domestic implementation of this commitment;
RECOMMENDS that consideration is also given to the use of other options to give greater international effect to the intent of this Declaration including;

  1. the possible inclusion of the high seas areas in the tropical Pacific within the area covered by the proposed South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation or another RFMO with the necessary competence;
  2. the possible development of a separate arrangement for the WTPIA area including relevant areas of the high seas and the Pacific Island countries and territories’ EEZs in the form of a convention to address the impacts of destructive fishing practices;
  3. where the science supports, to investigate the potential to use multiple use Marine Protected Areas in the WTPIA to prevent destructive fishing practices in the high seas enclosures beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

CALLS on the international community to support, and cooperate in, the implementation of this commitment to sustainable fisheries and, in particular urges flag states whose vessels operate in the WTPIA to promptly implement measures to ensure their vessels and nationals do not engage in destructive fishing practices in the WTPIA.
 

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