The agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction that is being defined in New York, has been discussed since 2004 and our country was a strong driver. It will be essential to protect national and regional conservation and fishing interests. It is a tool against illegal fishing that does not put sovereignty at risk.
The Yun Mao No.168 is a modest Taiwanese fishery about 40 meters in length. It operates on the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Brazil, Uruguay or Argentina, although sometimes it does so illegally entering the jurisdictional sea of these countries. Yun Mao has a fishing permit from a recognized Regional Fisheries Organization, ICCAT, and has an import permit granted by the European Union.
Yun Mao No.168 (Photo: Milko Schvartzman/oceanosanos.org)
Yun Mao, which is subsidized by its flag State, a rich country in the northern hemisphere, uses slave labor from the Philippines and Indonesia. No one knows exactly what fishing, how, where or how much, nor what species it discards. It is suspected that it catches tuna, swordfish and sharks by longline, that flies on board, that kills albatrosses and other accompanying species, and that its garbage discharges it on the high seas.
Also that it bleaches its capture in a Port of Convenience, which despite having ratified the FAO Port Rector Agreement to Prevent IUU Fishing, does not control what Yun Mao discharges, much less when it comes to the remains of seafarers They did not support the living conditions on board.
Yun Mao No.168 unloading fish in the port of Montevideo - Uruguay (Photo: Milko Schvartzman / oceanosanos.org) ►
The Yun Mao destroys the marine ecosystem of the countries of the region, captures species that inhabit the EEZs, as in its contiguous zone, competes illegitimately in the international markets, and leaves the local fishermen without work.
There is no control over the predatory activities of Yun Mao, as well as thousands of other ships that operate with worse impacts than this one.
It is clear that the uncontrolled and destructive way in which resources that live on almost half of the planet's surface (more than 40%) are exploited is unsustainable. This region is a world heritage site, but only five countries capture 80% of fishing in international waters.
It is necessary to preserve the oceans and end unsustainable exploitation activities, either environmentally, socially or economically. The possibility of a binding global agreement presents a unique opportunity to restrict the action of vessels such as Yun Mao.
The Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction ("Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction or BBNJ") is born out of the need for a framework that regulates in some way the use and conservation of marine resources in areas outside the jurisdiction of the States.
This region today is partially regulated, by multiple organizations and agreements that are oriented to the management of a fishery, or an ecosystem, operating as unconnected patches and established by groups of countries, which often fail in their mission. There is no body that with the accession of all parties has successfully addressed the solution to what is now called the ‘far west’, where anyone does what he wants with the resources that are the heritage of all mankind.
In 2004, the UN General Assembly entrusted an 'Ad Hoc Informal Working Group' with the task of studying the theme related to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, such as destructive fishing and IUU, the creation of Marine Protected Areas, and the equitable use of marine genetic resources.
At the fourth meeting of this group, in 2011 a "package" of themes was adopted by consensus that would be included in case of progress in a possible agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of the BBNJ. The package included access to marine genetic resources and their equitable use, environmental impact studies, the creation of Marine Protected Areas and the transfer of knowledge and technology.
This stage served so that in the final Declaration of the Rio + 20 Earth Summit in 2012, it was established that the UN would begin the formal discussion of whether a legal tool was necessary to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of biodiversity at high sea. At the Summit, the last paragraph to be drafted of the entire Declaration was the one referring to this Agreement; Argentina and Brazil led the block in favor of a solid agreement and faced the strange alliance of the United States, Russia and Venezuela that led those who intended to dilute it.
Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction Third session New York, 19–30 August 2019
Already with the order to move forward, in 2013 the sessions began in New York, which in January 2015 concluded with the decision by consensus that progress is made in a legally binding agreement, approved by the General Assembly in June of that year. The same as this week is in an advanced process of definitions at the UN.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry has played a leading role in all instances of the process, as was seen during the presidency of the G77 between 2011 and 2012.
What the Agreement says
Literally, the objective of the agreement is to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas outside national jurisdiction through the effective implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention and the promotion of cooperation and coordination International
The Agreement seeks to promote a holistic and intersectoral approach to ocean management. In other words, what is being preyed upon by a few today is protected and used sustainably by all. The sea does not have a single owner, it belongs to all the inhabitants of the planet, including non-humans.
YouTube video: The Science of UNCLOS | Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, is an international treaty that sets out the legal framework for ocean activities and boundaries. In 2003, the Government of Canada set out to collect the scientific evidence needed to define our extended continental shelf.
The agreement will be concluded: "Respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States, (...) and respecting the provisions of UNCLOS/CONVEMAR", as can be read in the draft of the official text. On MPAs, it is stated that “a system of ecologically representative marine protected areas that are connected and managed in an effective and equitable manner” will be established.
At the same time, it is indicated that “the measures adopted in accordance with this Part shall not impair the effectiveness of the measures adopted by the coastal States in adjacent areas under their national jurisdiction and shall duly take into account the rights, duties and legitimate interests of all States that derive from the relevant provisions of the Convention ”.
Clearly there is no interference in the decisions to be taken sovereignly by the states within their Exclusive Economic Zone, either to regulate their fishing activity or to create Marine Protected Areas.
Application to regions without legal frameworks or management instruments
"Management mechanisms based on geographical areas, including marine protected areas, and conservation and management measures will be established when there is no relevant legal instrument or framework or competent world, regional or sectoral body."
“The States parties will cooperate in order to establish that instrument, framework or body and will participate in their work to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas outside national jurisdiction,” the text notes and adds that in The environmental impact assessment process will also take into account, where appropriate, the possible effects on coastal States, in areas within national jurisdiction, including the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. It may well apply to the Southwest Atlantic.
An opportunity for Argentina
The various tools provided by this Agreement are explained in the need to restrict overfishing and illegal fishing by foreign fleets in the South Atlantic.
Photo: Luis Portaluppi | The continental shelf regime is established by Part VI (articles 76 to 85) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (CONVEMAR) ►
The possibility of the creation of a Marine Protected Area just outside the EEZ of Argentina and the conservation of that maritime space of proven importance for the biodiversity of the Southwest Atlantic represents the possibility not only of protecting the lush marine life and securing resources to future generations, but also increase productivity in all surrounding areas, including within the Argentine EEZ, and avoid uncontrolled extraction by subsidized foreign fleets that press on the same fishing grounds.
One of the most benefited sectors with this Agreement will be the national and regional fishing industry.
* Milko Schvartzman is a specialist in Illegal Fishing. Oceanosanos Coordinator Between 2011 and 2015 he participated in the negotiation process of the Agreement at the UN, in New York and the Rio + 20 Summit.