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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

7 December 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the General Assembly on Agenda items 79 (a) and (b) “Oceans and the law of the sea; Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments”

– Check against delivery –

Mr. President,

I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

Mr. President,

We are meeting here to adopt two important resolutions, that on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and that on Sustainable Fisheries. The EU and its Member States have participated actively in the consultations preparing these resolutions as committed parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and its implementing agreements, including the 1995 Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. We believe that these resolutions serve to focus the attention of the General Assembly and the general public on important issues in the marine domain, including fisheries. We would like to express our appreciation for the excellent stewardship demonstrated by both coordinators, Mr Thembile Joyini and Mr Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik. We would also like to thank all the co-chairs and facilitators of the different meetings which feed into the resolutions and whose work facilitates the work of the delegations. We also recognize the constructive participation of other delegations in these negotiations and which ensured a positive outcome in both cases with the inclusion of numerous important and topical issues.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, with its 168 parties, including the European Union is rightly considered, including by the European Union and its Member States, as the constitution of the oceans, reflecting also customary international law and establishing the overarching legal framework within which all activities in oceans and seas must be carried out. We sincerely hope that the goal of universal participation in this Convention will one day be met. In this respect we welcome the accession of Azerbaijan to the Convention earlier this year.

The EU and its Member States also support the need for enhancing ocean governance as a fundamental cornerstone for preserving and protecting the marine environment and biodiversity and ensuring sustainable development, as well as peaceful relations between States. We continue to subscribe to the vital importance of preserving the integrity of the Convention. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the necessity of ensuring that the Convention remains relevant and able to meet today’s, as well as future, challenges and which can be achieved through the development of new implementing agreements. Consequently, the EU and its Member States are happy to acknowledge the progress achieved in the first two sessions of the Preparatory Committee preparing recommendations on a an international legally-binding instrument under the Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. This has resulted in achieving significant unpacking of the issues at stake. We would like to thank the Chair of this process, Ambassador Eden Charles of Trinidad and Tobago for his sterling stewardship as well as the other four facilitators of the different informal groups.

Mr. President,

The importance of oceans and their resources in the context of sustainable development has been recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We subscribe to the view that responsible decision-making at all levels to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources are crucial for achieving sustainable development. Consequently, we look forward to the conference which will be held next June to support the implementation of Goal 14 on oceans and will participate actively in the work which will prepare it. We consider that proper implementation of this goal is necessary to counter major threats the marine environment continues to face, including climate change, marine debris including plastics and micro-plastics, invasive alien species, eutrophication and dead zones, anthropogenic underwater noise, overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, all of which contribute to the declining health of the marine environment and the continued loss of marine biodiversity.

The EU and its Member States recognize that climate change will have significant adverse impacts on oceans and their ecosystems, which will translate into social and economic impacts and which will hit particularly hard developing countries. As signatories to the Paris Agreement on Climate change we reiterate the call for parties to implement their obligations under this agreement and further call on those States which are not yet party to become so in order that we can all work together in a coordinated manner to tackle one of the major threats to oceans and life on earth. Thus, we welcome that the 18th meeting of the Informal Consultative Process next year will deal with “The effects of climate change on oceans”.

The EU and its MS also continue to be firmly committed to the Regular Process. We consider that this second cycle should enhance the scientific information available to managers and policy makers to improve the quality of decision-making. We would like to thank all the scientists and other colleagues who offer to work voluntarily on this important process.

Lastly Mr. President, on the Resolution on Oceans and the law of the Sea,

The EU and its Member States regret that the oral statement on PBI before us was submitted that late in the process. This statement should be issued timely to allow Member States to consider it thoroughly before taking action. We would like to insist that agreement on the Resolution on Oceans and the Law of the sea is without prejudice to the discussion in the 5th committee on the revised estimates presented to us.

Mr. President,

Turning now to the Sustainable Fisheries Resolution, the EU is a strong supporter of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement which sets out principles for the conservation and management of highly migratory and straddling fish stocks and elaborates on the fundamental principle of cooperation in the Convention to ensure conservation and promote the objective of the optimum utilization of fisheries resources both within and beyond the exclusive economic zone. Consequently, we consider that the Resumed Review Conference, which took place in May, is an important tool to improve the effective implementation of this Agreement. We would like to register our satisfaction that it was possible to agree on recommendations covering a number of important issues such as flag State responsibility and due diligence, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, vessels without nationality, strengthening the role and effectiveness of Regional Fisheries Management Bodies and working conditions aboard fishing vessels. We thank Prof Fabio Hazin of Brazil for his able chairing of this conference. We also welcome that entry into force of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement on 5 June as we consider this to an important tool to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.

The EU is also satisfied with the outcomes of the review of bottom fishing measures including the useful workshop which was held in the context of the Sustainable Fisheries resolution. We recognize that States, individually and through regional fisheries bodies, have undertaken necessary measures to implement the provisions of previous resolutions. However, we also note that implementation has not been sufficient in all cases and areas. We believe that more and better science as well as more stringent implementation of measures is necessary if vulnerable marine ecosystems, including deep sea fish stocks, can be protected from such bottom fishing activities

Lastly, Mr. President,

The EU and its Member States would like to express their gratitude to the Secretariat and to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea for their work and constant support throughout the year.


* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN16-207EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: General Assembly - Plenary
  • Date: 07/12/2016

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