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U.S. Department of State
95/12/04: Law of the Sea Agreement Signed 
Statement by Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, United States Permanent 
Representative to the United Nations, December 4, 1995. Released by 
the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the Bureau of Oceans and 
International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, December 4, 1995.  

Press Announcement and Fact Sheet included.   


[TEXT]

1)  Statement by Ambassador Albright on December 4, 1995 


Statement Made on the Occasion of the 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.  


      Mr. Chairman, distinguished ministers, fellow ambassadors and 
delegates, and ladies and gentlemen. 

      This is a memorable occasion for all members of the 
international community who have labored to conserve fishery  
resources and strengthen the law of the sea. On this historic  day, 
the United States, joined by other members of the  international 
community, will sign the Agreement, adopted by  consensus by the UN 
Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and  Highly Migratory Fish 
Stocks. This Conference concluded its work  after three years of 
intense negotiations and outstanding  international cooperation. The 
United States is pleased to have  participated in this effort. We are 
convinced that this Agreement offers a tremendous advancement in our 
global efforts to better conserve and manage living marine resources. 

      As both a coastal State and a State whose vessels fish on the 
high seas, we are keenly aware of the need for a balanced  approach in 
the Agreement, one that recognizes the legitimate  concerns of both 
groups. The United States believes that the  Agreement strikes a 
reasonable balance between conservation and  fishing concerns, and 
between the interests of coastal States and  States whose vessels fish 
on the high seas. We support the  Agreement because it establishes new 
and effective rules to  conserve and manage marine fisheries and 
provides for States to  resolve their disputes through compulsory 
binding dispute  settlement procedures. The Agreement, if widely 
ratified and  properly implemented, will both improve the health of 
our ocean  ecosystems and ensure a lasting supply of fish to feed the 
world's population. 

      The United States wishes to acknowledge the skill, leadership 
and energy of Ambassador Satya Nandan for crafting the Agreement. We 
are truly indebted to you. 

      This Agreement is particularly noteworthy because it directly 
contributes to a broader global effort to promote  international 
cooperation, reduce conflict and achieve more  effectively the 
sustainable use of living marine resources. The  Agreement is 
consistent with and builds upon the United Nations  Convention on the 
Law of the Sea which entered into force last  year. It complements the 
1993 Agreement to Promote Compliance  With International Conservation 
and Management Measures by  Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, which 
itself is an integral  component of the International Code of Conduct 
for Responsible  Fisheries which was adopted last month in Rome. 
Together, these  instruments provide a strong basis to move forward in 
achieving  sustainable use of living marine resources in the world's 
oceans  and seas. 

      Looking to the future, we see many exciting challenges before 
us. Our first task is to bring this Agreement into force  as soon as 
possible. We hope that all nations that sign the  Agreement today will 
soon deposit their instruments of  ratification. We urge those nations 
which are not able to sign  the Agreement today to do so as soon as 
possible. Also ahead are  the challenges of implementing effectively 
the provisions of the  Agreement in various regional and subregional 
organizations and  arrangements throughout the world. The status of 
the world's fish stocks demands that implementation of the Agreement 
begin  immediately wherever straddling and highly migratory fish 
stocks  are harvested. 

      In closing, Mr. Chairman, the Fish Stocks Agreement is a 
laudable accomplishment. The tasks before us are not only  possible, 
but absolutely necessary. At stake are important issues involving 
biological integrity of marine ecosystems and food security. The 
United States is confident that we will succeed. Let us hope that our 
imagination and strength are as vast as the oceans we so cherish.  

2) Announcement by Glyn Davies, Acting Spokesman, on December 4, 1995 

    Today, Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright signed on behalf of the 
United States the 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.  The Agreement, adopted by 
consensus by the UN  Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly 
Migratory Fish  Stocks in August 1995, after three years of 
negotiation, offers  a tremendous advancement in global efforts to 
better conserve  and manage living marine resources.  

     The United States supports the Agreement because it lays  out 
general principles to be followed by countries to conserve  and manage 
straddling fish stocks such as cod and pollock, and  highly migratory 
fish stocks such as tuna and swordfish.  It  calls for a precautionary 
approach in fisheries management  where necessary and for 
compatibility in the conservation and  management measures taken for 
these stocks within areas of  coastal State jurisdiction and on the 
high seas.  The Agreement  provides mechanisms to promote cooperation 
between coastal  States and States whose fishing vessels operate on 
the high  seas, particulary through regional and subregional  
organizations or arrangements, and provisions on the collection  and 
exchange of data on fishing operations.  The Agreement is  significant 
because it contains strong provisions on  enforcement and a mechanism 
for the peaceful settlement of  disputes based upon the procedures 
established in the United  Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  
The Agreement is  also important because it directly contributes to a 
broader  global effort to more effectively conserve and manage living  
marine resources.  

     At the signing ceremony for the Agreement, Ambassador  Albright 
said that, "as both a coastal State and a State whose  vessels fish on 
the high seas, the United States is keenly  aware of the need for a 
balanced approach that recognizes the  concerns and interests of both 
groups.  We believe that the  Agreement strikes a reasonable balance 
between conservation and  fishing concerns, and between the interests 
of coastal States  and States whose vessels fish on the high seas."  

     The Agreement will be presented to the Senate for advice  and 
consent to ratification.  Speaking on the future  implications of the 
Agreement, Ambassador Albright stated that,  "the Agreement, if widely 
ratified and properly implemented,  will both improve the health of 
our ocean ecosystems and ensure  a lasting supply of fish to feed the 
world's population." 


3)  Background Information:  The United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement  

     After three years of negotiation, the UN Conference on Straddling 
Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks  adopted by consensus on 
August 4, 1995, the 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.  The 
Agreement was opened  today for signature at the United Nations.  
Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, Permanent  Representative of the 
United States to the UN, is scheduled to sign the Agreement on behalf 
of the United States.  The Agreement will be presented to the Senate 
for advice and consent to ratification, and will enter into force 
after it has been ratified by thirty countries.  

     General concern with overfishing, particularly on the high  seas, 
and concerns over specific fisheries for straddling and  highly 
migratory stocks gave rise to the Conference.  The  subsequent 
Agreement aims to reserve the global trend of  declining fish stocks.  
It preserves current conservation and  management concepts expressed 
in the United Nations Convention  on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  It 
also gives form and  substance to the UNCLOS mandate for States to 
cooperate in  conserving and managing straddling and highly migratory 
fish  stocks.  

Negotiating Process  

     The UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly  Migratory 
Fish Stocks was an outcome of the 1992 UN Conference  on Environment 
and Development (UNCED) and was called for by  UN General Assembly 
Resolution 47/192 of December 22, 1992.   This resolution states that 
the Conference, drawing on  scientific and technical studies by the UN 
Food and  Agriculture Organization, should: identify and assess 
existing  problems related to the conservation and management of  
straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks,  consider 
means of improving fisheries cooperation among  States, and formulate 
appropriate recommendations.  (The  Agreement does not define either 
term, but the usage of  "highly migratory fish stocks" is compatible 
with the  definition in the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and 
Management  Act, and "straddling stocks" is understood to mean those  
stocks that appear within an exclusive economic zone and in an  
adjacent high seas area.)  

The Agreement  

     The Agreement is important to the United States because it  
promotes our interests in the fish stocks under consideration  and 
strengthens the role of subregional and regional fisheries   
management organizations and arrangements.  U.S. interests in  highly 
migratory and straddling fish stocks include tuna and  other non-
cetacean highly migratory fish stocks and pollock in  the central 
Bering Sea.    

     Subregional or regional fisheries management organizations  or 
arrangements exist or are pending in most areas U.S.  fishermen fish 
for these species, in particular: in the  eastern Pacific Ocean with 
the Inter-American Tropical Tuna  Commission; in the Atlantic Ocean 
with the International  Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic 
Tunas; and in the  central Bering Sea with the Convention on the 
Conservation and  Management of Pollock Resources in the Central 
Bering Sea, the  latter of which enters into force on December 8, 
1995.          The three pillars of the Agreement are its provisions  
dealing with conservation, enforcement and dispute settlement,  and 
are discussed in more detail below.   

Conservation  

     The Agreement promotes the effective conservation and  management 
of important fishery resources, and it strikes a  reasonable balance 
between the interests of coastal States and  States whose vessels fish 
on the high seas.  The U.S. fully  supports the Agreement's objective 
of sustainable use of  straddling and highly migratory fish stocks 
throughout their  ranges through strong conservation measures.  

     Among its most noteworthy features, the Agreement calls  for the 
application of the precautionary approach to fisheries  management 
throughout the ranges of the stocks.  It contains a  strong Annex on 
data collection and sharing, and it provides  for compulsory, binding 
dispute settlement in accordance with  UNCLOS.  The Agreement provides 
for port-State enforcement and  establishes an important new principle 
by permitting, under  appropriate circumstances, non-flag States to 
board and  inspect fishing vessels on the high seas to ensure 
compliance  with regionally agreed conservation measures.  

     Coastal States and States fishing on the high seas are to  
cooperate either directly or through appropriate subregional  or 
regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements  to ensure 
effective conservation and management of the  stocks.  Where there is 
no such organization or arrangement,  the relevent coastal States and 
States fishing on the high  seas are to cooperate to establish one, or 
enter into other  appropriate arrangements, and are to participate in 
the work  of the organization or arrangement.    

     The Agreement also calls for compatibility of conservation  and 
management measures between those taken on the high seas  and those 
within areas of national jurisdiction.  The  Agreement encourages 
relevant coastal and fishing States to  cooperate to ensure the 
conservation and management of such  stocks in their entirety, both 
within and beyond areas of  national jurisdiction.    

Enforcement  

     The compliance and enforcement provisions of the Agreement  are 
among the most innovative.  The Agreement reaffirms the  right and 
responsibility of coastal States to ensure  compliance with fishery 
rules applicable within their areas of  national jurisdiction.  The 
Agreement establishes some new  precedents in the area of enforcement 
on the high seas.  It  allows non-flag States to board and inspect 
vessels fishing on  the high seas to ensure compliance with 
conservation and  management measures established by subregional or 
regional  fisheries management organizations or arrangements.    

     Further enforcement action, including ordering a fishing  vessel 
to port, may be taken in the case of serious violations  by vessels 
whose flag State either cannot or will not exercise  proper control 
over them.  Serious violations under the  Agreement include fishing 
without a license; failing to  maintain accurate records; fishing in a 
closed area or for  stocks subject to a moratorium; using prohibited 
gear;  falsifying markings or other identification; concealing,  
tampering with, or disposing of evidence; and multiple  violations 
which together constitute a serious disregard for  conservation and 
management measures.  

     The Agreement provides that States act through subregional  or 
regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements  to 
establish procedures for boarding and inspection and to  implement the 
other provisions involving enforcement.  If they  have not done so 
within two years after adoption of the  Agreement, or have not 
established an alternative enforcement  mechanism, then boardings and 
inspections can occur following  procedures detailed in the Agreement.   

Dispute Settlement  

     Finally, the third pillar of the Agreement is dispute  
settlement.  Parties to the new Agreement are bound to settle  
disputes over any matter relating to the Agreement or to the  
agreements underlying subregional or regional fisheries  management 
organizations or arrangements using the binding,  compulsory dispute 
settlement procedures provided in UNCLOS.    

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