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Sustainable Fisheries

GA: Oceans and the law of the sea

Statement by Ambassador Mona Juul at the introduction of the resolution on sustainable fisheries, 10 December 2019.

| General Assembly

Mr President,

Norway has had the honour of coordinating the informal consultations on draft resolution A/74/L.21 on sustainable fisheries. I am pleased to introduce the text on behalf of its co-sponsors.

Fisheries provide a vital source of food, employment, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world. Achieving sustainable fisheries, combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, addressing fishing overcapacity, ensuring safety at sea and decent working conditions in the fisheries sector, and improving sub-regional and regional cooperation are all necessary if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 14.

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement. The Agreement is a cornerstone in contemporary fisheries management. It sets out a comprehensive legal regime for the conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, with a strong emphasis on regional management. It promotes the sustainability of some of the world’s most commercially important fish stocks.

Regional platforms are crucial for cooperation, coordination and policy coherence in the management of human activities in the oceans. The collective arrangement between the OSPAR Commission and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) is a good example of such a platform, whose essential aim is to become a collective, multilateral forum composed of all relevant competent entities in the region. The experience gained by NEAFC and OSPAR should help other regions to strengthen a cross-sectoral approach in their region, and this enhanced regional cooperation has therefore been referred to in this year’s resolution.

In 2020, we will also mark the 25th anniversary of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which sets out international standards for responsible practices that ensure effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources, and due respect for ecosystems and biodiversity. The Code is voluntary, but is probably the most cited high-profile global fisheries instrument in the world after the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Despite the adoption of the Code and the progress it has brought about, far from all fishing activity is conducted in a responsible manner. Important work remains in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The effective global implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA), the first binding international agreement to specifically target IUU fishing, is crucial for the effort to preserve the world’s fish stocks. Let me take this opportunity to call upon states that have not yet done so to become parties to the Agreement.

On behalf of the coordinator, Andreas Kravik, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Director Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli and the staff at the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea for their expertise, professionalism and invaluable support before and during the consultations.

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Mr President,

Norway is pleased to join others in co-sponsoring the draft resolution on, “Oceans and the law of the sea”. We thank Ms Morris-Sharma for her dedicated and effective leadership during the two rounds of consultations.

This year we have celebrated the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This “Constitution for the oceans” is without a doubt one of the most significant and visionary multilateral instruments of the century. The draft resolution again reaffirms the universal and unified character of the Convention, and that it sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. Norway fully subscribes to this view. The Convention provides clarity regarding the obligations and the rights of states. It represents customary law, and provides an indispensable framework for sustainable use of marine resources, protection of the marine environment, shipping safety and security, international and regional cooperation, and marine science.

Mr President,

Capacity building is essential to ensure that all states, especially developing states, are able to fully implement the Convention, benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, and participate in global and regional cooperation. Norway is therefore strengthening its development cooperation in the field of ocean management, both bilaterally and through international and regional organisations.

We therefore welcome the invitation to the Secretary-General to expand the capacity building activities of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, in cooperation with member states, international financial institutions, donor agencies, and intergovernmental organisations.

***

Mr President,

We were proud to host the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo in October. The conference highlighted the importance of knowledge as the basis of our actions and policies to ensure protection of our oceans, with a focus on responsible management of marine resources and sustainable future economic growth. A total of 600 leaders from government, business and civil society from 100 countries participated. We were particularly pleased that as many as 27 small island developing states took part and shared their experience from the frontline of ocean issues and climate change. The conference also highlighted the vital importance of involving the private sector. We hope to be able to build further on the partnerships and the sense of urgency created in Oslo in the many important high-level events to come, first and foremost the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June 2020 and the next Our Ocean Conference, which will be hosted by Palau in August. We must live up to our environmental responsibilities, both our legal obligations and our moral obligations to future generations.

The oceans have huge potential when it comes to meeting the world’s growing need for resources, creating jobs and fostering economic and social development. The High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which was established last year, brings together world leaders who recognise that economic production and ocean protection must be mutually supportive if we are to ‘produce, protect and prosper’. The panel has commissioned a series of ‘blue papers’ from a broad group of world leading experts exploring pressing challenges at the nexus of the ocean and the economy, and has published papers on “The Future of Food from the Sea” and “The Expected Impacts of Climate Change on the Ocean Economy”.

Mr President,

The obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment is clearly set out in the Convention. States are required to take necessary measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment. Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we have made a commitment to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, and including marine debris and nutrient pollution, by 2025.

Norway is playing a leading role in the global efforts to promote clean and healthy oceans. Our development programme to combat marine litter is a key tool in this regard, and Norway has substantially increased funding for work in this field.

We continue to work proactively in relevant international forums such as the United Nations Environmental Assembly and the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention. We especially welcome the decision to include mixed, unrecyclable and contaminated plastics into the control regime of the Basel Convention.

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Mr President

The impacts of climate change are among the most pressing issues facing the international community. Small islands, including Small Island Developing States, and low-lying coastal areas are particularly exposed. The findings in the most recent Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives grounds for serious concern. The report confirms that the global mean sea level continues to rise at an increasing rate. Extreme sea level events will occur more frequently and will have severe ramifications.

The report furthermore confirms that changes in the ocean have affected marine ecosystems and ecosystem services, with negative consequences for indigenous peoples and local communities that depend on fisheries. Science is pointing in a clear direction. We must all increase our ambitions. If not, the goal set in the Paris Agreement will be beyond our reach. A key task is to ensure increased support for developing countries. Finance, capacity building and technology are essential to enable all countries to implement the Paris agreement effectively.

Mr President,

Norway is a steadfast supporter of the process of developing a new instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We see a need for a new regime governing marine genetic resources in these areas. This regime should be pragmatic, cost-effective and practical, and it should promote research and innovation. The regime should also secure access to benefit sharing, particularly for developing countries. With regard to area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, the new instrument should initiate increased contributions from existing sectorial and regional mechanisms to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. By doing so the instrument would add value to the existing structures and contribute to strengthened implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Thank you.