Remarks at the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Oceans and the law of the sea and Sustainable fisheries

Joan Prince, Senior Advisor
New York, NY
December 11, 2012




AS PREPARED

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, my delegation has the honor to co-sponsor the General Assembly resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea and on sustainable fisheries.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, we were pleased to participate, as the host country, in yesterday’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Law of the Sea Convention. And we are pleased to have the floor today to discuss related matters – the annual General Assembly resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea and on sustainable fisheries.

As the world community recognized in Rio this past summer, oceans, seas and coastal areas form an integrated and essential component of the Earth’s ecosystem and are critical to sustaining it. In fact, healthy oceans and coasts and their resources are necessary for global prosperity. International law, as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources. The annual General Assembly resolutions on oceans and fisheries that we are debating today serve as important opportunities for the global community to identify key marine-related issues and develop constructive ways forward to address them.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, we would like to highlight two aspects of this year’s oceans resolution. First, we are very pleased that the resolution reflects the many important oceans commitments from Rio+20’s “The Future We Want.” We believe these commitments demonstrate the importance of the oceans and their resources for sustainable development. In particular, we look forward to further work on initiatives to address ocean acidification, including the new Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Monaco. We believe it is critical to increase international collaboration on ocean acidification research, monitoring, and observations – particularly with regard to the effects of acidification on shell-forming organisms, marine biodiversity, and food security. This new Coordination Center will serve as an important means to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the global effects of ocean acidification. Also in this regard, we were very pleased by the selection of the topic of “the impacts of ocean acidification on the marine environment” for next year’s Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea. We look forward to fruitful exchanges on this important matter in that forum.

The second important aspect of this year’s oceans resolution we would like to highlight relates to progress towards the highly anticipated publication of the first global integrated marine assessment, or the “World Ocean Assessment,” under the regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects. The “Regular Process” was established at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. It is an initiative we all have endorsed through the General Assembly as a means to improve our understanding of the oceans and the efficacy of the decisions we make to conserve and manage its resources. We were pleased to host last month a very successful World Ocean Assessment workshop for the Wider Caribbean. We recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Group of Experts of the Regular Process, and we look forward to working with all our partners to establish a robust pool of experts from around the globe to write and review this ground-breaking report on the state of the oceans by 2014.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, we would also like to highlight two key aspects from this year’s resolution on sustainable fisheries. First, we are pleased that the resolution reflects the many important fisheries conservation and management commitments from the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want.” We believe these commitments demonstrate the importance of sustainable fisheries resources for small-scale fisherfolk and women fish workers, indigenous peoples, developing countries, and small island developing States. In addition, the commitments illustrate the importance for the international community to work collaboratively to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, ensure transparency and accountability in fisheries management by regional fisheries management organizations, and enhance protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems from significant adverse impacts. For several years, the sustainable fisheries resolutions have urged States to ensure the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use. Therefore the second important aspect that we would like to highlight is that the resolution notes with satisfaction the adoption of the Conservation Plan for the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals’ Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks. The United States places significant importance on this development and very much welcomes the recognition by the United Nations General Assembly of this important action taken by the Signatories to that agreement.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, the United States would like to thank Director Serguei Tarassenko and the staff of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea for their expertise and support on both resolutions. We would also like to thank Ambassador Eden Charles of Trinidad and Tobago for his coordination of the oceans resolution and Ms. Alice Revell of New Zealand for her coordination of the fisheries resolution. Both did an outstanding job.

Finally, I would like to conclude by expressing appreciation for delegations’ hard work and cooperation in crafting both resolutions. It is our hope that this spirit of cooperation will characterize our efforts to address the numerous and complex issues that lie ahead in the new year.

Thank you.

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PRN: 2012/294