Permanent Mission of the Federated States of Micronesia to the United Nations

Opening of Debate in the General Assembly on Ocens and the Law of the Sea

New York, November 24, 1998 (FSM Permanent Mission to the UN)- The United Nations General Assembly met this morning to consider the report of the Secretary-General on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, with a related draft resolution, and a further draft on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing.

During the general debate on the agenda item, FSM Permanent Representative Ambassador Masao Nakayama, who spoke on behalf of the South Pacific Forum countries represented at the United Nations, told the Assembly that the ocean was of immense importance to the island countries of the Forum. The resources of the ocean had been the key to the economic survival of many of the Forum states. Against that background, Ambassador Nakayama said the Forum island countries were concerned that the great potential of the ocean could not be realized if persisting human induced pollutants and the issue of the marine environment protection and management were not addressed in a comprehensive manner by the international community.

Ambassador Nakayama said the Forum welcomed the decision of the international community to declare 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean, and called upon all countries to re-dedicate themselves to protecting and safeguarding the ocean environment from activities that might endanger it. He further stated that the Forum also welcomed the trend towards universal adherence to the legal regime established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. Additionally, cooperation amongst States was essential for the successful implementation of the Convention.

The Member States of the South Pacific Forum, the Ambassador continued, called on developed States to honor their obligations to assist the Forum countries with ocean management and conservation. The Forum members attached particular importance to, and strongly supported, the resolution on drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing, fisheries by-catch and discards, and related problems. He noted the Forum's disappointment to the continuation of drift-net fishing, in contravention of the moratorium agreed upon by the international community. All States should ban such practices, with immediate effect.

Unauthorized fishing under national jurisdiction was a crucial issue for the South Pacif Forum members, Ambassador Nakayama added. In that connection, the member states of the Forum endorsed the call in the related draft resolution, for development assistance in the monitoring and control of fishing activities. Assistance should be given to developing coastal States, in particular, small island developing States, to enable them to attend significant negotiations on fisheries and other marine issues in the international fora.