UN General Assembly approves resolutions on fisheries and Law of the Sea

UN General Assembly approves resolutions on fisheries and Law of the Sea

The United Nations General Assembly today called on countries that have not yet done so to become a party to the Law of the Sea regarding jurisdiction over national and international waters, as well as the seabed, and to maintain sustainable fisheries.

By an omnibus draft resolution on oceans and the Law of the Sea, reaffirming the unified character of the 1982 Convention and the need to preserve its integrity, the Assembly voted 141 to 1, with four abstentions, to call on all States that have not done so to become parties to the Convention and the "Fish Stocks Agreement," as well as to harmonize their national legislation with the Convention's provisions.

Voting against was Turkey while the four abstentions came from Colombia, Ecuador, Libya and Venezuela.

The States Parties number 146 out of the Assembly's 191 members.

The Assembly also called on donor agencies and the international financial institutions (IFIs) to review their programmes in order to ensure that all States, particularly developing countries, have the skills necessary for fully implementing the Convention, as well as developing the oceans and seas sustainably. They would bear in mind the interests and needs of landlocked developing States.

States should cooperate to address piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling and terrorist acts against shipping and other maritime interests and work with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to promote safe and secure shipping, while ensuring freedom of navigation, the Assembly said.

Furthermore, States should integrate the issue of marine debris into their national strategies dealing with waste management in coastal areas, ports and maritime industries and should discourage ships from discharging marine debris at sea, while minimizing marine pollution from land.

The Assembly would also call on States to improve their understanding and knowledge of the deep sea, particularly the extent and vulnerability of deep sea biodiversity and ecosystems.

By approving the other Law of the Sea resolution on sustainable fisheries, adopted without a vote, the General Assembly called on all States that have not done so to become parties to the Convention, mindful of the relationship between the Convention and the Fish Stocks Agreement, and apply an "ecosystem" approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks, including straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

States would not permit their vessels to engage in fishing on the high seas or in areas under the national jurisdiction of other States unless authorized by those States and would deter their nationals from reflagging their ships.

The Assembly also called on flag and port States to prevent the operation of substandard vessels and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities and ensure that vessels flying their flags did not engage in transhipping fish caught illegally.