DECLARATION ON LAW OF THE SEA AND A REGIONAL FISHERIES AGENCY
The members of the South Pacific Forum meeting at Port Moresby
- Recall their decisions to coordinate and harmonise their policies on the law of the sea so as to ensure the maximum benefits for their peoples and for the region as a whole and, specifically, to harmonise fisheries policies in the region and to adopt a coordinated approach in their negotiations with distant water fishing countries:
- Note with appreciation the report on the establish- ment of a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Agency prepared by the Director of SPEC at their request:
- Recognise that in the continued absence of a comprehensive international convention on the law of the sea and in view of the action taken by a large number of countries including distant water fishing countries exploiting the valuable highly migratory species in the region, the countries in the region should move quickly to establish fishing or exclusive economic zones and should take steps to coordinate their policies and activities if they are to secure more than a very small part of the benefits from their resources for their peoples;
- Undertake to complete as early as practicable and, if possible, by 31 March 1978, the legislative and administrative actions necessary to establish extended fisheries jurisdiction to the fullest extent permissible under international law and to apply within their zones principles and measures for the exploration, exploitation, management and conservation of the living resources.
- Decide to enter immediately into consultations at the official level with a view to:
- a) agreeing on principles and measures to be applied in the establishment of their extended fisheries jurisdictions,
- b) agreeing at least provisionally, on a common basis for negotiations with distant water fishing interests in relation to highly migratory species common to the region: and
- c) ensuring that agreements concluded in the near future with distant water fishing interests are compatible with these principles and measures and are so framed as to take account of principles and measures that the coastal state might agree to in future regional arrangements.
- Recognise that the coastal countries of the South Pacific have an immediate and continuing need for information and advice concerning the living resources in the region and the ways and means of securing maximum benefits from them as well as for an effective instrument to coordinate policies in this field, and that management of resources moving over vast areas, control of their exploitation, surveillance and policing and collection of adequate statistical and other information require coordination by a regional agency.
- Decide to establish a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Agency open to all Forum countries and all countries in the South Pacific with coastal state interests in the region who support the sovereign rights of the coastal state to con- serve and manage living resources, including highly migratory species, in its 200 mile zone.
- Reguest the Director of SPEC to convene and service not later than the end of November 1977 a meeting of officials of all interested coastal states in the region
- a) to prepare a draft convention establishing a South Pacific regional fisheries agency;
- b) to make arrangements for the setting up of an interim agency office and for the appoint- ment of a core staff for a period of one year;
- c) to discuss and prepare guidelines for the activities of the agency which should include:
i) collection, analysis and evaluation of statistical and other biological and economic information relating to the conservation and utilisation of living resources to assist member governments in the development of policies aimed at securing maximum benefits for their peoples;
ii) assistance, if requested, in negotia- tions with distant water fishing nations and other extra-regional interests;
iii) facilitation, without detriment to the sovereign rights of coastal countries, of a regional approach to management and to licensing including agreement on generally applicable policies and measures, pooling of information and standardisation of procedures and forms;
iv) facilitation of collaboration among coastal countries and of cooperation by others in surveillance and enforcement;
v) provision of advice on necessary conservation measures including the need for a widely based organisation envisaged in the Informal Composite Negotiating Text;
vi) technical advice;
vii) execution of agreed administrative activities.
In preparing these guidelines the officials should take into consideration the suggestions contained in the annex to the Director’s Report to the Forum.
- Welcome the offer of the Government of the Solomon Islands that the permanent headquarters of the Agency be located in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
- Invite the Government of Australia to agree to the Agency office being located on an interim basis in Cronulla, New South Wales, pending its establishment on a permanent basis in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
- Request the Director of SPEC to seek funds from governments and international agencies for the operation of the Agency until such time as it is self-supporting and to recommend an equitable formula for the costs to be levied on participating governments.
- Draw the attention of the South Pacific Conference to this Declaration and invite the members of the Conference to consider arrangements whereby governments and territories in the region with a common interest as coastal states can participate with members of the Forum in the conservation and management of the living resources of the region.
31 August 1977