Next week, the attention of the international community will be directed towards the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The effects and impacts of climate change are evident, and we need to respond urgently. We hope the Conference will have the necessary momentum and that the parties will show the necessary political will and flexibility, so that concrete results can be achieved.
The consequences of climate change are especially visible and measurable in the Arctic. If the ice-melting continues, and the polar ice cap continues to diminish, new opportunities to exploit previously inaccessible resources and new shipping routes will emerge. We will thus face the challenge of balancing the protection of the Arctic environment with the orderly and sustainable use of its resources.
The five Arctic Ocean coastal states, Canada, Denmark, the Russian Federation, the United States and Norway, have a special responsibility in this regard. In last year’s Ilulissat Declaration they expressed readiness to stand by their special responsibilities, on the basis of the extensive international legal framework that applies to the Arctic Ocean, such as the law of the sea.
- Under the Arctic Council, negotiations on an international instrument regarding search and rescue in the Arctic will commence next month.
- In the International Maritime Organization we are working to strengthen the Guidelines for Ships Operating in Ice-Covered Waters – the so called Polar Code. We attach great importance to this work in the IMO, and we count on the active support of all member states to make sure that a mandate for the revision can be agreed upon in the meeting of the Ship Design and Equipment Sub-Committee in February 2010.
This year’s negotiations on the General Assembly resolution on sustainable fisheries included a review of resolution 61/105 from 2006 that encouraged states i.a. to take action to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from destructive fishing practices. Norway has worked actively to promote action against the use of fishing gear that may harm marine biodiversity, i.a. in NEAFC, NAFO and CCAMLR. We also played an active part in the development of the FAO International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas.
This year’s review, as well as the Secretary-General’s report on the issue, show that states have taken significant measures to implement the 2006-resolution. However, it is also clear that considerable work still remains to be done in order to offer vulnerable ecosystems the necessary protection. We are happy that both these points are reflected in the resolution. The goals set out are ambitious, and they need to be in order to prevent further damages from the use of destructive fishing practices. States and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations must take their full responsibility in this regard.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) seriously undermines efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks in a sustainable manner. This is particularly harmful for developing countries, and such fishing also has severe negative effects on food security and environmental protection all over the world.
An important milestone in the global fight against IUU-fishing was reached last August when in the framework of FAO we managed to finalize the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. These negotiations were initiated by Norway in 2005, because we saw the need for a global approach to prevent landing of IUU-fish.
The agreement was approved by the FAO Conference and signed by Norway on the 22nd of November this year. This is an important instrument for better global port state control, and we encourage all states to become parties to the agreement as soon as possible.
The establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles is a central element in the implementation of the law of the sea regime. The delineation process clarifies the legal framework for future shelf activities. Such clarity also entails significant positive development implications.
Norway submitted documentation concerning the limits of our continental shelf in the High North in 2006, and received the recommendations from the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf earlier this year. We were impressed by the work of the members of the Commission, and I take this opportunity to commend them for their efforts. Also DOALOS deserves praise for their contribution related to the work and functioning of the Commission. States must now work together to secure the Commission and DOALOS the resources they need to continue their work in this important field.
Many developing countries face particular challenges in preparing documentation for their submissions. States with the necessary financial and technical resources must therefore assist developing countries in the preparation of these submissions.
At the Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties in June 2008 we worked actively for the decision contained in document SPLOS/183 to the effect that developing countries can submit preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf. Norway has also assisted ten African states in their preparation of such preliminary information submitted to the Secretary General before the deadline. In this endeavour we had a close and fruitful cooperation with UNEP Shelf Programme, represented by GRID-Arendal, with the ECOWAS Commission and with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia. We also received valuable advice from the United Nations Office for West Africa. We are now studying how we can best provide these African coastal States with technical and financial assistance in order to prepare full submissions to the Commission.
Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden continue to threaten the people of Somalia, the whole region and a series of protective interests. These interests include innocent lives, humanitarian supplies and international commerce and navigation. 1000 Norwegian owned ships pass through the Gulf of Aden every year. We are also directly affected and we are acting accordingly
We welcome the broad range of actions taken by the international community to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea outside Somalia. We co-sponsored the resolution the Security Council adopted on 30 November 2009, and we highly appreciate the work of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia established in January 2009. Norway participates in the work of the four working groups under the Contact Group, and in January 2010 we will chair the fifth meeting of the Contact Group itself. Norway also contributes with one frigate to the EU-led Operation Atalanta in the Gulf of Aden. The international cooperation to ensure security for international shipping outside the coast of Somalia must continue, as must the cooperation to improve the situation on land in Somalia in order to address the root causes of the problem.