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Draft Treaty to Establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organization for High Seas areas of the North Pacific Ocean. Blair Hodgson Director, International Fisheries Relations International Affairs Directorate. INTRODUCTION.

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Draft Treaty to Establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organization for High Seas areas of the North Pacific Ocean

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Draft Treaty to Establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organization for High Seas areas of the North Pacific Ocean

Blair Hodgson

Director, International Fisheries Relations

International Affairs Directorate

  • The draft treaty sets out the parameters of a new regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) that would conserve and manage high seas fishery resources in the North Pacific Ocean.
  • The treaty was first drafted by Japan and the United States in 2006. It has since reflected the perspectives of other participating countries and is currently in its eighth revision.
  • Participating countries to the negotiations are: the United States, Japan, Korea, Russia and Chinese Taipei. Mexico has been invited but has not yet attended, and it is expected that the People’s Republic of China will attend the next session in Jeju, Korea on January 17-22, 2009.
  • It will likely take two to three additional negotiating sessions to finalize the treaty.
introduction continued
INTRODUCTION (continued)
  • The draft North Pacific RFMO treaty, much like other treaties establishing RFMOs, provides a framework for the organization to take future decisions, while specifying some principles and actions member countries must take in order for the organization to function effectively.
  • While some fisheries treaties such as the Pacific Salmon Treaty and the Pacific Hake Treaty outline specific requirements including catch shares, treaties that create RFMOs tend to be enabling. However, they are occasionally specific regarding requirements member countries must fulfil.
  • The draft treaty is based on precedents from other international fisheries treaties, including the draft treaty to create a South Pacific RFMO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Convention and the Convention to establish the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
  • We will go over these other major aspects of the draft treaty to establish the North Pacific RFMO.
preamble and objective
  • The preamble sets the context for the treaty.
  • The objective of the treaty is to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fisheries resources in the Convention Area while protecting the marine ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean in which these resources occur.
  • The Draft Convention Area includes the High Seas area of the North Pacific, with a southern boundary of 20 degrees north. It includes the high seas area adjacent to the Exclusive Economic Zones of Canada and Mexico (coordinates on the diagram are approximate).
key definitions
  • The draft treaty defines concepts that will be used throughout the text. This is a comment element of most fisheries treaties.
  • The definition for “fisheries resources” specifies which fish stocks are covered by the treaty and which are not.
  • Fisheries resources covered by the treaty include all fish, molluscs, crustaceans and other sedentary species found within the Convention Area.
  • Fisheries resources not covered by the treaty are: sedentary stocks that are subject to the sovereign rights of coastal states, (i.e. those occurring within Canadian waters); catadromous stocks; and, species already covered by existing regional fisheries management organizations (e.g. tuna).
  • We expect that the treaty will eventually cover all currently unregulated high-seas fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean.
key definitions continued
  • “Bottom fishing” is defined as fishing activities where the fishing gear is likely to contact the seafloor during the normal course of fishing operations.
  • “Fishing activities” are defined as:
    • (i) the actual or attempted searching for, catching, taking or harvesting of fishery resources;
    • (ii) engaging in any activity that can reasonably be expected to result in locating, catching, taking or harvesting of these resources for any purpose; or
    • (iii) any operation at sea in direct support of, or in preparation for, any activity described in sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) above, including actual or attempted transshipping of these resources, except for any operation related to emergencies involving the health and safety of crew members or the safety of the fishing vessels.
  • Countries that are part of the treaty must adhere to certain general principles, including:
    • consideration for the sustainability of resources and vulnerable marine ecosystems;
    • adherence to scientific advice;
    • control over capacity;
    • ensuring that punishments for violations are severe enough to secure compliance; and,
    • other environmental considerations including biodiversity and minimizing pollution from waste or discards from vessels.
establishing the rfmo
  • The treaty establishes the RFMO, known as the North Pacific Fisheries Commission and identifies rules governing its structure and operations.
  • Parties agree that a permanent Secretariat will be necessary, but what form it will take is still being discussed. For cost-effectiveness, some have suggested contracting services out to an existing RFMO such as the North Pacific Anadromous Fisheries Commission (NPAFC).
  • According to the treaty, the Commission must establish a Scientific Committee and that it may create other subsidiary bodies as required. It also outlines the reporting requirements of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.
functions of the rfmo
  • Among the key functions, as required by the treaty:
    • Setting total allowable catch / total allowable effort (but it is still unclear if the Commission will set allocations)
    • Data collection and reporting rules/procedures
    • Establishment of an Observer Program
    • Conservation and management measures
    • Monitoring, control and surveillance measures
    • Approval of the Scientific Committee’s workplan
    • Setting the terms and conditions for experimental, scientific or exploratory fishing operations
    • Other functions as may be necessary to promote the treaty objectives
other key elements of the treaty
  • Decision-making: Decisions shall normally be made by consensus. There is still debate on how to proceed if a consensus cannot be reached (among the proposals on the table include 2/3 majority in cases where there is no consensus). The text also includes objection and dispute settlement procedures.
  • Contracting Party Duties: The treaty binds all Parties to comply with all stated conservation and management measures and other requirements and ensure that all fishing is authorized under the terms of the treaty. It also includes:
    • reporting, data submission and record-keeping requirements,
    • procedures that would authorize flag state vessels to fish in the Convention Area;
    • requirements for having observers aboard vessels;
    • enforcement through high seas boarding and inspection (consistent with UNFA);
    • Compliance requirements and the obligation to investigate any alleged violations
  • Rules governing signature, ratification and entry into force of the treaty.
unresolved issues in the text
  • Species: We expect that the treaty will eventually cover all currently unregulated high seas fish stocks in the North Pacific, though a clear decision on this has not yet been made.
  • Southern Boundary: The draft treaty applies to high seas areas up to states’ Exclusive Economic Zones, with a southern boundary of 20 degrees north latitude. Separate negotiations to establish a South Pacific RFMO will soon confirm the northern boundary of that organization, but discussions are still underway about the southern boundary of the North Pacific RFMO. There is the potential for an unregulated zone between the Convention Areas of the North and South Pacific RFMOs, including most Central American and Southeast Asian states.
  • Functions: The text allows the RFMO to set TACs and TAE, but the treaty does not yet allow the RFMO to make allocations. Also, the budget is not addressed.
  • Non-state participation (e.g. “fishing entities” such as Taiwan)
  • Decision making: Objection Procedure
  • Role of Scientific Advice
  • Process for achieving Compatible Measures for Straddling Stocks