Fisheries

EU welcomes progress on legal instruments to protect biodiversity in high seas

EU welcomes progress on legal instruments to protect biodiversity in high seas

EU welcomes progress on legal instruments to protect biodiversity in high seas

07/12/2017

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, welcomes the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a resolution that sets modalities to negotiate a legally-binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), better known as the high seas.

Commenting on the decision, Commissioner Vella stressed: "I am heartened by the widespread support for the development of an agreement for areas beyond national jurisdiction, which the EU has championed for many years and which augurs well for the forthcoming negotiations. Improving international ocean governance is crucial to ensure that the world's oceans are healthy, clean and productive in the long term, so that they can continue to contribute to sustainable development. This is also the main message from the Our Ocean Conference we organised in October."

The UN General Assembly adopted yesterday also two other important resolutions concerning the oceans, one on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and one on sustainable fisheries.

EU urges international community to walk the talk on oceans

At the debate, the EU has called on the international community to take its responsibility and implement its obligations and commitments in order to protect the marine environment and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are met.

While underlining the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as the overarching legal framework for ocean governance, the EU stressed that it needs to be able to meet future challenges.

The EU also emphasised the importance of addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries which hamper the achievement of sustainable fisheries. It encouraged States to ratify the FAO Port State Measures Agreement as well as to eliminate harmful subsidies which exacerbate the problem. The EU strongly supports that agreement will be reached on this issue at the forthcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires later in December.