PCAF together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) participated in the informal consultation for the drafting of United Nations’ (UN) resolution relative to sustainable fisheries on November 7 to 15, 2016 at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

It was attended by BFAR Assistant Director Drusila Esther Bayate, BFAR’s legal officer Atty. Demosthenes Escoto, PCAF Planning, Monitoring and Knowledge Management Chief Estrella Tulay, and Policy Development and Coordination Division Assistant Chief Francia Macalintal.

The eight-day informal consultation was chaired by Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik, Counselor- Legal Affairs at Permanent Mission of Norway to UN.

Discussions and negotiations centered on the draft texts prepared by the coordinator and additional proposals from various delegations. The draft resolution also took note, recognized and acknowledged the reports of various meetings of the UN committees and other bodies.

Aside from these, it also incorporated the report of the resumed review conference on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, the First Global Marine Assessment, the committee on World Food Security of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Tenure and Fishing Rights 2015.

The draft resolution also welcomed into force the Paris Agreement which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, including the increasing ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience.

The delegates included in the developing resolution a unified call to the member states to assess the risks and potential adverse impact of climate change in respect to fish stocks. There was also a call to consider establishing conservation and management measures and identify options to reduce risks and adverse impacts in the fisheries management and the health and resilience of marine ecosystem.

It also noted with satisfaction the entry into force the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSM) to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing of the FAO. The PSM is an international treaty intended to stop IUU fishing. The Agreement needed to be ratified by 25 countries to take effect. As of May 16 last year, there were already 30 countries that ratified the binding Agreement.

The informal consultation also brought up issues and concerns that directly affect the Philippine Sea. These include marine debris, plastics and microplastics that were recognized as transboundary global pollution problem.

Marine debris is the effect of the abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear, including fishing gear. According to UN, its destructive form is causing adverse impacts of fish stocks, marine life and the marine environment and that urgent preventative action is needed. Marking of gears and removal action are being proposed by the Committee on Fisheries of the FAO. 

Some deep sea fishing activities in certain areas were noted to be carried out without full implementation of relevant paragraphs of previous resolutions, thus threatening vulnerable marine ecosystems.

One of the areas discussed relative to deep sea fishing was the impact of bottom fishing. The body reaffirmed the importance of addressing the impacts of this fishing technique on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long-term sustainability of deep-sea fish stocks.

Bottom fishing is fishing the base or lowermost part of a body of water.

Past researches have shown the effects of bottom fishing contributing to the alterations to the physical structure of the sea floor and reduction in habitat complexity. In general, bottom fishing favors scavenging species at the expense of large bodied and fragile taxa (group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit.).

The effects of bottom fishing in the sea bed and the vulnerable marine ecosystems, also called for actions to emphasize the need for full implementation by all state members and relevant regional fisheries management organizations and arrangement on their commitments on what was stated as an urgent basis.

Part of the recommendations was to use, as applicable, full set of criteria in the guidelines to identify where vulnerable marine ecosystems occur or were likely to occur as well as for assessing significant adverse impacts.

It also added that ensuring the conduct of impact assessments, including the increasing impacts of activities covered by the assessment should be consistently directed by the guidelines and should be reviewed periodically and be revised whenever a substantial change in the fishery has occurred or there is relevant new information where such impact assessments have not been undertaken.

The body also asked to ensure that conservation and management measures adopted by the member states and regional organizations and arrangements should be based on and updated on the basis of the best available scientific information, noting in particular the need to improve effective implementation of thresholds and move-on rules.

With the continuous attention given by the international community to the role of fish and fish products in nutrition and food security, the body called upon its member states to implement the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the outcome document of UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, as adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution70/1 of September 2015, including Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The body also recalled that the Goals and targets are integrated and indivisible.

Also part of the draft resolution was the appeal to enhance efforts to cooperate, collect, exchange, and publish scientific and technical data and best practices related to the development and implementation of adaptation strategies.

The full text of the draft resolution is on http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/71/L.24