GA: Agenda Item 76 (a) and (b) Oceans and the law of the sea

Last updated: 12/6/2011 // This statement to the General Assembly was delivered by Ambassador Morten Wetland. Sustainable resource management and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are the most important tools for safeguarding the world’s fish stocks.


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets forth the legal order for the seas and the oceans. It provides a solid foundation for peaceful, responsible and predictable management of the oceans. All processes related to oceans, e.g. sustainable use of marine resources must be dealt with within the framework of the convention.

An integrated ecosystem-based approach to marine management forms the basis for Norway’s marine policy. We apply the precautionary principle and have drawn up integrated management plans. They provide a framework for the sustainable use of natural resources in a way that maintains the biodiversity of the ecosystems.


Oceans are critical for global food security. Sustainable marine management is imperative if the oceans are to continue to be a source of human food. Our challenge, therefore, is to find the balance between responsible use of living marine resources and conservation.

Sustainable resource management and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are the most important tools for safeguarding the world’s fish stocks. Combating IUU fishing has been one of the main issues on the international fisheries agenda for the past decade, and we must continue to cooperate on this issue.

Based on experiences in our own region, we are concerned about the connections between international organised crime and illegal fishing. The study “Transnational Crime in the Fishing Industry” by the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime published earlier this year is a useful contribution to the further exploration of such links. We encourage states and international organisations to further study the causes and methods of illegal fishing in this context.

The impacts of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long-term sustainability of deep-sea fish stocks have been a concern for Norway for several years. We are therefore pleased that the General Assembly has agreed on measures to address these problems. Vulnerable marine habitats outside national jurisdiction are better protected against the adverse effects of bottom fishing today than they were before these decisions were made. The General Assembly resolutions on this issue have had a clear effect. According to the Secretary-General, , if fully implemented, resolutions 61/105 and 64/72 as well as the FAO Guidelines provide the tools necessary to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from significant adverse impact due to bottom fishing and to ensure the long-term sustainability of deep sea fish stocks.   It is therefore vital that we focus on improving implementation. At the same time, we must acknowledge that implementing these resolutions is demanding for many states and regional fisheries management organisations, particularly for developing countries, and we must make sure that we do not end up with a system where only rich countries are able to fish.


Turning to another sector, maritime transport, Norway shares the objectives of the IMO: safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.

Shipping has advantages compared with other forms of transport: ships can transport large volumes of goods with a high level of energy efficiency and low emissions. However, there are a number of environmental challenges linked to shipping. Our aim is that the Norwegian maritime industry shall be the most environmentally friendly and lead the way in the development of new solutions.

The impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the marine environment is a global issue. The nature, rate and impacts of climate change and the vulnerability of marine and coastal ecosystems and societies will vary from place to place, but ultimately the environmental and societal impacts will be felt at local level and affect people’s daily lives.

International shipping is responsible for its share of greenhouse gas emissions. The IMO has taken action this year to address this through the adoption of energy efficiency requirements for international shipping. This is a major achievement.


Protecting biological diversity is essential for preserving the living networks and systems that form the basis of our existence. And there is an urgent need to implement effective measures to combat threats to marine biodiversity. Therefore, Norway welcomes the discussions on how to improve the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of resources in areas beyond, as well as within, national jurisdiction.

We welcome the work of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction established by the General Assembly, and we look forward to assessing the substantive issues in greater depth as the process develops. It is important that the working group examines all current and potential negative impacts on biodiversity in sea areas beyond national jurisdiction, and how they can best be dealt with. The conclusions must remain open. Only then will we be able to identify the best solutions.


Clear maritime boundaries are essential for identifying which state has rights and obligations in which areas according to the Law of the Sea. This is important in relation to sustainable exploitation of marine resources and protection of the marine environment. Such legal clarity also promotes peace and security.

The establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles is a key element in the implementation of the Law of the Sea regime. This is necessary to clarify the legal framework for future shelf activities and for environmental protection. It also has significant development implications. Let me in this connection acknowledge the significant contribution the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has made.

The establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf presents a challenge for many developing countries that do not have the necessary financial and human resources. Norway now cooperates with several African countries in this connection. Our objective is to help these countries to utilise their rights under the Law of the Sea and ultimately exercise a larger degree of control over their own resources.

Norway would like to encourage all states with the necessary resources to assist developing countries in the preparation of documentation to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Lastly, President,

Norway is concerned that piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia is continuing to pose a threat to innocent lives, humanitarian supplies, international commerce and navigation.

This autumn, Norway assigned a maritime patrol aircraft to NATO’s “Ocean Shield” operation. We have also co-sponsored relevant Security Council resolutions and we participate actively in the IMO’s work on combating piracy and in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Norway will continue to support the broad range of actions taken by the international community to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.

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