Statement by H.E. Mr Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives on Agenda item 76: Oceans and the Law of the Sea, 6 December 2011


Mr. President,

I am pleased to make this statement under agenda item 76 on sustainable fisheries and the Law of the Sea.

At the outset, we would like to sincerely thank the coordinators of the Sustainable Fisheries and Law of the Sea Resolutions and to the United Nations Division on Oceans and the Law of the Sea for its continued support and work in oceans issues. We would also like to wish Ms. Holly Koehler best of luck in her future endeavors and are greatly appreciative for her leadership and guidance during the informal consultations.

Mr. President,

The Maldives believes this year’s resolutions on Sustainable Fisheries and Oceans and the Law of the Sea validate the enduring globalization of the oceans agenda. The global level of consciousness on the role of oceans is high, but the collective ability to manage oceans issues to the benefit of all nations and peoples of the world need to be reinforced.

For Maldivians, the critical importance of sustainable fisheries and oceans to our livelihoods, economic development and food security cannot be emphasized more, given that the Maldives is a Small Island Developing State with over a thousand low-lying islands. Our survival, and indeed are future remains and will continue to remain heavily dependent on treating the oceans and everything in it, in a sustainable and justifiable manner.

Mr. President

We remain deeply concerned about overfishing; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; discards and bycatch; trawl and other habitat damage; perverse government subsidies; ineffective fisheries governance; overcapacity; biodiversity loss; habitat loss; single-species management and the adverse effects of climate change that is not sufficiently addressed. In order to do this, we must start to think about the oceans and oceans management in a completely different way.

Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) are the basis of high seas fisheries governance . RFMOs need to establish effective regional agreements on management of oceans resources, integrated ecosystem based regional bodies and have comprehensive and innovative approaches which address the sustainable use and management of marine living resources. We do remain concerned however, that lack of political will, capacity and lack of enforcement in some RFMOs greatly hampers the effective management of the oceans.

Mr. President,

The Maldives would like to reiterate its proposal that serious consideration be given to the need to create new, effective regional arrangements to take an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to management of oceans, marine resources and ocean users across entire ocean basins. For existing regional organizations, we believe there should be a review of the manner in which decision-making takes place, with a view to improving transparency and accountability at a global level and we would suggest that specific provisions for oversight by the United Nations General Assembly for these regional arrangements and organizations be adopted. We would also suggest that such arrangements need to advance the developmental aspirations of coastal developing states, especially SIDS – including the possibility of favoured access to available fish resources as one such result.

In this respect, we note Part 14 of UNCLOS, which commits States Parties to promote the development of the marine scientific and technological capacity of States. We also note of the resolution A/RES/65/35B entitled “Oceans and law of the Sea”.

Mr. President,

Member States need to address the threats facing the ocean as a means to achieve sustainable development, including in particular over-fishing, and addressing issues such as subsidies, marine reserves and protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Flag States need to practice responsible fishing and control their vessels, while port States do not contribute to illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing by letting such catch enter their ports and reach the market.

In conclusion, Mr. President, for Small Island Developing States like the Maldives, and other developing coastal States, sustainable fisheries and the effective management of oceans and marine resources form an integral part of their developmental strategies. However, all states have a stake in this worldwide agenda, and we must ensure that the respective roles we play are for the betterment of all peoples.