14 January 2013 - By adopting the wide-ranging text on “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” on 11 December 2012 in New York, the United Nations General Assembly has for the first time ever officially recognized the importance of the CMS MOU on Sharks for the conservation of migratory sharks within a resolution to promote a healthy marine environment as part of achieving its sustainable development goals.
During its 51st and 52nd meetings of the 67th Session, the UN General Assembly noted in its Resolution on Sustainable Fisheries (UNGA Res. A/RES/67/79) with satisfaction the adoption of the Conservation Plan for the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (Sharks MOU) under CMS.
Range States to the Sharks MOU are invited to consider signing, and associating themselves with the MOU as cooperating partners of the conservation instrument.
The Resolution refers to the sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks and recognizes the potential contribution of fisheries to sustainable development. It also reflects the call made at Rio+20 for the adoption, by 2014, of strategies to assist developing countries, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in enhancing their national capacity to conserve, sustainably manage and realize the benefits of sustainable fisheries.
In addition it aims to ensure that decisions taken by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) are based on the best available scientific information. The document envisages implementing plans of action for the conservation and management of sharks; analyzing the impact of industrial fishing on species low down on the food chain. Collecting data on the use of fish aggregating devices is also a part of activities to be undertaken.
The Resolution reflects commitments made by governments at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, also known as Rio+20). These concern the need to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; eliminate harmful fishing subsidies; and enhance actions to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems by use of impact assessments.
The CMS Sharks MOU was brought to the attention of the General Assembly by the US delegation and supported by the EU, both already Signatories to the CMS Sharks MOU. This marks the first time that the CMS Sharks MOU has been referred to in an UNGA Resolution.
The Officer in Charge of CMS, Bert Lenten, stressed that “The United Nations resolutions clearly demonstrate that the international community recognizes that the CMS Sharks MOU has a critical role in the conservation of migratory sharks”.