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Sixth Session of the Open-ended
Informal Consultative Process
on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

United Nations Headquarters, New York | 6-10 June 2005

Earth Negotiations Bulletin - ENB
Daily Web
English French Spanish
06 June
07 June
08 June
09 June
10 June &
13 June - - - - - - - - -
14 June - - - - - - - - -
15 June &


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Time Runs Out at Marathon Final UNICPOLOS-6 Session
Consensus on Numerous Elements; No Time to Pick Up Debris

Delegates to the sixth meeting of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS-6 or Consultative Process) negotiated throughout Friday evening and into the early hours of Saturday morning in a final session, debating the language of the Draft Proposal by the Co-Chairmen's on elements to be suggested to the General Assembly for consideration.

Few paragraphs and subparagraphs of the text were accepted without debate, but fewer still were rejected. Shepherded toward consensus by Co-Chairs Philip Burgess and Cristián Maquieira, reminded frequently of the spirit of cooperation, and in many cases unable to reach their capitols for consultation due to the late hour, delegates conferred in small groups to arrive at compromise wording on many contentious issues.

When Co-Chair Burgess gaveled the meeting to a close at 12:15 AM, delegates had completed discussion of Part A of the Draft Proposal, containing elements on, inter alia, fisheries and their contributions to sustainable development, high seas biodiversity, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

No time remained to discuss Part B of the Draft Proposal, on marine debris, or Part C, on cooperative efforts. The Co-Chairs proposed to have these portions of the Draft Proposal presented to the General Assembly as non-negotiated documents reflecting the week's discussion, and resume debate on these topics this fall. Several delegations expressed reluctance and concerns about this course of action, but agreed it was the only remaining option.

Above, Lori Ridgeway of Canada explains a position to fellow delegates including Marcos de Almeida of Brazil, Carlos Fernando Díaz of Costa Rica, Manimuthu Ghandi of India, and Alfonso Ascencio Herrera of Mexico, during Friday evening negotiation of the Draft Proposal.

Friday, 10 June
Exchange of Views on Areas of Concern and Actions Needed

Eduardo Calderón of Ecuador opposed moratoria due to their negative economic effect, but stated that overexploitation of fish stocks is a problem.

Godfrey Rolle of Bahamas Marine Protected Areas, closed seasons for some marine species and prohibition of longline fishing, and recommended application of the precautionary principle.

Speaking for the International Coastal and Ocean Organization, Manuel Cira of the World Ocean Network underlined the importance of public awareness and education for the sustainable management of oceans.
Side Event: Moving Ahead with the Global Oceans Agenda

The Gerard J. Mangone Center for the Study of Marine Policy, University of Delaware, International Coastal and Ocean Organization, and Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands (GFOCI) presented a lunchtime side event discussing, inter alia, aspects of the 2005-2007 program of work of GFOCI, inluding upcoming conferences in Lisbon on 10-14 October and at UNESCO in Paris on 23-27 January 2006, public education and awareness, and global funding needs for ocean conservation and management. Speakers included Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain of the Mangone Center, Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul of Mauritius, Dr. Sylvia Earle of Conservation International, Cees van de Guchte of the UNEP Global Programme of Action, Manuel Cira of World Ocean Network, and Dr. Paul Boyle of the New York Aquarium.
Elements to be Suggested to the General Assembly for Consideration

Zhemin Liu of China accepted references to voluntary mechanisms, on the condition that their purpose be clearly explained.

Constance Arvis of the United States proposed language on the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), but delegates did not reach consensus due to time constraints.

Marcos de Almeida of Brazil lightened the mood by including humor in his interventions on substance and points of order.

Serge Beslier of the European Commission proposed acknowledging the work of the IMO and FAO in relation to defining the genuine link between flag states and their vessels.

Sacui Wimmer of Australia proposed language on encouraging States to create positive lists of vessels authorized to fish in their waters, and negative lists of vessels lacking authorization.

Carlos Fernando Díaz of Costa Rica suggested using previously agreed language on "bottom trawling that has an adverse impact on the marine environment."

Nigeria supported Costa Rica's proposal on language concerning bottom trawling.

Jane Coombs of New Zealand proposed including references not only to bycatch, but also to straddling stocks and discrete high seas stocks, with reference to "reporting catch and effort data."

Co-Chair Philip Burgess gaveled the meeting to a close at 12:15 AM, Saturday, 11 June.

Ilse Kiessling took a photograph of the Australian delegation.

Delegates huddled to work out compromise language for a paragraph of the Draft Proposal on Friday night.

Cristián Maquieira of Chile was welcomed as a Co-Chair of UNICPOLOS, and delegates hope to see him again next year.

Philip Burgess of Australia ended three years as a Co-Chair of UNICPOLOS with this meeting, and will be missed by many.

Secretary Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli and DESA's Anne Rogers kept things running.

Earth Negotiations Bulletin Team Leader Alice Bisiaux (with laptop), Elisa Morgera, Robynne Boyd and Cecilia Vaverka edit a daily bulletin late one evening.

Carmen Boon of the Venezuelan Mission photographs an intervention by Yenette Vega
By mid-evening, several delegations were awash in oceans of paper. ENB surveyed the scene, and determined that Japan had the most, due to one binder estimated to contain over 1000 pages, followed by Anne Rogers of DESA, the United States, and New Zealand. Among small delegations, Denmark had the highest stack of papers, with Peru a close second.

Related Links

Earth Negotiations Bulletin's report on UNICPOLOS-5 (HTML, PDF, TXT).
Earth Negotiations Bulletin's report on UNICPOLOS-4 (HTML, PDF, TXT).
Sustainable Developments’ report of the Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands (HTML, PDF, TXT).
UN Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS).
GMA International Workshop site.
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) - Chapter 17.
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition rationales for a short-term moratorium on deep sea bottom trawling.
European Coalition for Silent Oceans information on underwater noise pollution.
Ocean Noise Coalition information on underwater noise pollution.
Ocean Mammal Institute information on underwater noise pollution.
Centro de Conservación Cetacea, Chile information on underwater noise pollution.