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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2001 > December
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 11, 2001

Historic Global Fisheries Agreement Enters into Force

A global treaty to address over fishing on the high seas enters into force today, opening a new era in international fishery management. The U.S. is among thirty nations to ratify this binding United Nations agreement, which sets new, compulsory standards for managing highly migratory and shared fishery resources. Malta deposited its instrument of ratification one month ago, and as the thirtieth country to do so, brought the treaty into force today.

Provisions of the treaty greatly enhance conservation and management efforts by ensuring that the standards for determining when such measures are necessary are strengthened in favor of effective resource conservation. Parties will also cooperate in the collection and exchange of fishery data and give enforcement agents increased authority to board and inspect fishing vessels on the high seas to ensure compliance with conservation measures. The agreement also obligates member nations to settle disputes peaceably.

Another important aspect of the agreement is the affirmative commitment of parties to cooperate in regional fisheries management organizations. The United States has proactively implemented this aspect of the agreement since our ratification in 1996. The U.S. played a leadership role in negotiations to establish management organizations in several previously unmanaged fisheries, notably including the successful conclusion of agreements to manage fisheries in the central and Western Pacific and Southeast Atlantic Oceans.

Adopted in New York in August 1995, the treaty is officially known as the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of December 10, 1982, Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

The treaty was negotiated in response to concerns of overcapitalization of the world’s fishing fleets at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development during the Rio Summit in July 1992. The Conference acknowledged that problems such as fishing by nations operating outside international rules and the inability to enforce fishery laws were contributing to the further decline of fish stocks. Subsequently, the U.N. General Assembly organized the Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks to negotiate a binding international agreement to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of high seas fisheries and to improve cooperation between coastal and high seas fishing nations.

The U.S. Department of State and the National Marine Fisheries Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce cooperated to provide leadership in the international community both during the negotiations and throughout the past six years.

To access a copy of the full agreement, visit the United Nations Web site at: www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_fish_stocks.htm

Released on December 11, 2001

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