Significant Issues and Developments for 2009

 

2006 2007 2008 2009
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U.S. Signs Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (November 22, 2009)

On November 22, 2009, the United States became a signatory to a new treaty to require stronger controls on vessels carrying fish into the world’s ports. The treaty, entitled the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It breaks new ground as the first global treaty focused specifically on addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It is designed to combat fishing through, inter alia, establishing minimum standards for the conduct of fishing vessel inspections and inspector training by port States; requiring denial of port entry and/or access to port services to vessels that have been engaged in IUU fishing or fishing-related activities; and requiring Parties to the agreement to investigate and take appropriate enforcement action in response to IUU activity detected during an inspection. In an FAO press release, Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Fisheries Department, noted "This is the most significant international treaty dealing with fisheries since the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement." By recognizing the key role that port States play in the movement of IUU fish around the world, and the necessity for international cooperation and information sharing, this treaty represents a significant step forward in the global effort to combat IUU fishing.

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U.S. Accession to the Law of the Sea Convention (September 4, 2009)

The Obama Administration supports U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention. On September 4, 2009, in an article written for the Seattle Times, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, and Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen jointly stated that they strongly support ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention, citing the benefits of being able to better "address the changing realities of the global maritime environment" and to preserve "our ability to protect our domestic interests, including our extended continental shelf claims."

In a letter to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dated October 16, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered strong support for U.S. accession to the Convention, noting that as the country with the largest Exclusive Economic Zone, and one of the largest continental shelves, the United States stands more to gain from this treaty in terms of economic and resource rights than any other country. Secretary Clinton reiterated support for U.S. accession to the Convention on February 24, 2010, in testimony before the Committee, mentioning strong endorsement from the Department of Defense 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review for national security reasons, as well as economic and environmental benefits.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention on September 27 and October 4, 2007. On October 31, 2007, by a vote of 17-4, the Committee voted in support of U.S. accession. On December 19, 2007, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee submitted its report and the resolution for advice and consent to the full Senate. This resolution was not brought to a vote of the full Senate before the end of the 110th Congress. Thus, a new resolution will have to be favorably voted upon by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before the full Senate may take action.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.


Protocol of Amendments to the Convention on the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) (May 19, 2009)

On May 19, 2009, President Obama ratified and confirmed the Protocol of Amendments to the Convention on the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). The President’s signature on the IHO Amendments will result in the implementation of a more flexible, efficient, and visible organization that will better serve important U.S. interests, including commercial shipping and scientific research. The IHO facilitates cooperation among nations in the development of international survey standards, and NOAA surveys are conducted consistent with international standards and practice. The survey and mapping of the seabed are essential to delineating the outer limits of that portion of the continental shelf that extends beyond the outer limit of the U.S. 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) consistent with Article 76 of the LOSC. Accurate charts and maps of our offshore maritime zones are indispensable tools to assuring safe and navigation, exploring, developing, managing, and preserving our natural and cultural resources, establishing a baseline for understanding how climate change is affecting our world, and protecting the marine environment and our national security.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.