Distinguished co-chairs, colleagues and members,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and the European Community as a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Let me start by welcoming Ambassador Macquira in his new role as co-chair. I would like to thank Mr. Burgess for accepting to be our Co-chair for a third year. We would also like to thank Ambassador Felipe H. Paolilo for his contribution to the work of the informal process and we wish him success in his new duties. The European Union is grateful for the work of the Division of Oceans and Law of the Sea, notably with regard to the comprehensive report on Oceans and Law of the Sea.
The European Union attaches great importance to the informal consultative process based on the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. The area of focus that we are addressing today and tomorrow, fisheries and their contribution to sustainable development, will be introduced by the European Commission, who will speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. In the coming days, the European Union will also address the tsunami and marine debris. Further, we will also present our views on the future of the ICP.
The European Community welcomes the focus on sustainable fisheries of this 6th session of the UN Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea. We believe this emphasis reflects the growing concerns of regulators, stakeholders, the civil society, but above all, those of populations that rely on the oceans marine living resources for their livelihood. After ten years of intense activity at the international level to create a common framework for oceans governance, we should now positively demonstrate our willingness to act upon the commitments we have subscribed to, and address the many different challenges that lie ahead.
These challenges stem from the reality that marine living resources cannot withstand the pressure our growing populations and market demands are placing on them. It has now become quite clear, in light of mounting scientific evidence, that unless rigorous management is applied, these resources will not be sustainable. Thus the objectives set forth by the World Summit on Sustainable Development to rebuild these resources by 2012 become all the more relevant, and our need to take decisive action to secure their attainment all the more pressing.
The European Community deploys its fleets in all the worlds oceans. Our stakes in the process of achieving effective international fisheries governance are extremely high. But to be able to participate along with other parties in this collective effort, it has been quite necessary to start enhancing our own discipline internally. The reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy, launched in 2001, is based on four fundamental pillars, namely, switching from an annual to a long-term approach to conservation and management of stocks, based on solid science, a new policy for the fleets that aims at matching capacity to the fishing possibilities available, a reinforced compliance regime to strengthen the uniformity of control and sanctions throughout the Community, and an increased involvement of stakeholders in policy-making through the establishment of Regional Advisory Committees.
The reform of the international fisheries governance regime is therefore a major policy goal for the Community, as a natural parallel to its internal policy reform efforts. In this respect, the Community welcomes the Declaration adopted by the FAO Fisheries Ministers of 12 March 2005 in Rome on Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing. We also welcome the work currently underway in the framework of the High Seas Task Force hosted by OECD, and look forward to the results of this process early next year. We were also pleased to participate in the St Johns Conference organised by Canada last May. The Ministerial Declaration adopted in St Johns also reflects the extent to which there is agreement on the need to enter an implementation phase for the different instruments adopted in the last decade. We hope that the Review Conference of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement will decisively contribute to advance us into an action-oriented approach to the governance of our oceans, and we believe the various instruments just referred to provide multiple ideas and suggestions which could be an excellent basis for this advancement.
The role of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and Arrangements is crucial in this regard, as bodies that have been given competence to adopt binding conservation and management measures. Therefore, it is crucial that we endeavour to achieve the process whereby all the high seas areas of the world will be covered by regional management regimes, and that for both new and existing RFMOs, appropriate mandates, structures and operational means are secured so that these bodies are able to discharge their responsibilities in accordance with the demands of an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to management.
This concept entails understanding that sustainable stocks can only exist in a healthy environment. Therefore, measures are needed to protect biodiversity, conserve non-target, associated and dependent species, as well as measures that effectively protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
Poverty alleviation and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals are key elements of the EC acquis, translated into numerous co-operative efforts and a synergy of policies, in this case between those regarding Fisheries and those regarding Co-operation to Development, to which the Community and its Members are essentially committed. This approach was developed in the Communication on Fisheries and Poverty Reduction of November 2000 . This text outlines how development, trade and fisheries policies must be integrated in a global approach to resource sustainability and poverty reduction, and identifies guidelines for targeting interventions in the framework of the Communitys overall development policy and in the framework of its fisheries partnership agreements with coastal States. With regard to the latter, the Community is committed to assist coastal States to develop and implement a responsible and sustainable fisheries policy with reciprocal benefits . In establishing this framework, the Community strives to avoid overexploitation in the interest of local populations and the long term sustainability of their fishery sector, promotes improved resource evaluation and support of control activities.
The European Community attaches great interest to the work underway in the FAO framework to develop, in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, guidelines aimed at enhancing the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security and poverty alleviation. In this context, special emphasis is placed on the necessary support of responsible fishing practices and management. Whereas the Community supports the implementation to their fullest of the relevant rules of the law of the sea and of the Code that call for taking into account the special requirements of developing States and the interests of small-scale and subsistence fishermen, we must express our attachment to the goal of ensuring that fisheries are carried out responsibly, so that the long term sustainability of the resources, and therefore their long-term contribution to the basic economies of dependent poor communities is ensured.