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PSIDS Call for Sustainable Use of Ocean Resources

New York
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Pacific Small Island Developing States(PSIDS) represented at the United Nations called today for the adoption of General Assembly resolutions on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, and on Sustainable Fisheries. Addressing the UN General Assembly on behalf of the PSIDS, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Peter Thomson, said that oceans and fisheries were at the very heart of the shared identity of PSIDS.

Ambassador Thomson said the PSIDS were deeply concerned about overfishing of oceans and seas, as well as illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, marine pollution, the destruction of marine habitats, and ocean acidification. He said these negative developments were gravely compromising the resilience and productivity of our oceans.

Ambassador Thomson said the PSIDS were expecting the forthcoming preparatory work on the Post-2015 Development Agenda to reinforce the need for a stand-alone development goal on oceans and seas.  He said the PSIDS foresee this stand-alone goal as critical to restoring the health, resilience and productivity of our oceans and seas, by reducing the incidence and impact of marine pollution, effectively regulating harvesting, and ending IUU and destructive fishing practices, as well as conserving coastal and marine areas.

The General Assembly was told of the disappointment of PSIDS that at last week’s meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Samoa, distant-water fishing nations once again failed to support appropriate measures to reduce the overfishing of tuna. While PSIDS were working on the application of the precautionary approach in fisheries and were using both target and limit reference points in the management of fish-stocks, distant-water fishing nations once again failed to support appropriate measures at the Commission to reduce the overfishing of tuna.

Fiji’s Ambassador said that, “addressing threats from the overcapacity of fishing fleets, from inadequate enforcement, and from the unsustainable use and management of marine resources” were priorities for the PSIDS.

He said that the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction was also a major concern. Ambassador Thomson told the General Assembly that PSIDS maintain, “the exploitation of resources by a few, from a maritime area that is the common heritage of mankind, is inconsistent with general principles of international law, including those on equity.” He said that in the context of the ongoing negotiations on an implementing agreement on marine biodiversity, it was clear the maintenance of the status quo was not an option.

Ambassador Thomson also mentioned that the PSIDS were participating in the development by the International Seabed Authority of a comprehensive set of rules to govern seabed mineral extraction. He said this was necessary to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from any harmful effects that might arise from activities in this regard.

Reflecting on the past twenty years, he said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea had brought vast maritime expanses under international jurisdiction, along with the oceanic resources therein, and that these were fundamental to our survival. Ambassador Thomson said the Convention provided the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources, and that it was a matter of pride for the PSIDS that all of them are State Parties to the Convention.




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