Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg.Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg

GA: Oceans and the Law of the Sea and Sustainable Fisheries

Last updated: 12/9/2013 // This statement on Oceans and the law of the Sea and Sustainable Fisheries was given by Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen.


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets forth the legal order for the world’s seas and oceans. It provides a solid foundation for peaceful, responsible and predictable management of the oceans. All processes related to oceans must be dealt with within the framework of the Law of the Sea.

An integrated ecosystem-based approach to marine management forms the basis of Norwegian marine policy. Norway applies the precautionary principle and has developed integrated management plans for its sea areas. These plans provide a framework for the sustainable use of natural resources derived from these areas, in a way that maintains the biodiversity of the ecosystems.


Global food security is an important priority for Norway, and oceans are critical in this regard. Healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable and responsible marine management are of vital importance if the oceans are to continue to be a source of human food. It has been agreed that the fifteenth meeting of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea will focus on the role of seafood in global food security. Norway welcomes this. Fisheries, aquaculture and food security will also be discussed in other forums, such as the UN Committee on World Food Security and the Second International Conference on Nutrition.

From a fisheries and aquaculture perspective it is vital that we seek to sustain healthy marine ecosystems whose living resources can provide food and serve as a source of income for present and future generations. It is widely recognised that healthy, well-functioning and productive ecosystems will provide optimal levels of production for harvesting. Thus, the fishing and aquaculture sectors are dependent on healthy ecosystems and clean oceans.

Norway supports measures to strengthen sustainable fisheries management and actions to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from destructive fishing practices. The challenge is to find the best way to combine such measures with fishing activities in all fishing countries, including developing countries. The regional fisheries management organisations play a key role in this context in addition to the responsible coastal and flag states.


The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is crucial 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. Norway encourages states to initiate a process within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the elaboration of a global catch documentation format to support trade in legal fisheries products. A common format will bolster trade in legal fisheries products while at the same time preventing illegal fisheries products from entering the market. As a number of states have developed different and conflicting catch documentation schemes, a common catch documentation scheme would be a valuable tool in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Norway also recognises that there in some instances is a link between illegal fishing and transnational organised crime. It is important that we in the UN and other multilateral forums continue to develop a common understanding of transnational organised fisheries crime, as well as the tools needed to combat this type of crime. The establishment of the INTERPOL Fisheries Crime Working Group and Project Scale are good examples of the work being done in this area.


Marine biological diversity is essential to all human life. Norway is committed to the protection and sustainable use of marine resources, inside as well as outside areas of national jurisdiction.  Depending on where the activity takes place, the responsibility for the protection and sustainable use of marine resources rests with the coastal state, the flag state or the state otherwise responsible for activities outside national jurisdiction. Based on discussions here at the United Nations and elsewhere in recent years, it appears that most Member States agree that we need to do more to ensure the protection and sustainable use of marine resources. However, questions have been raised regarding the extent to which the protection of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction can be enhanced within the existing legal framework, and the extent to which existing legal instruments sufficiently regulate access to and the sharing of benefits from genetic resources in areas outside national jurisdiction. Norway remains open to negotiating new instruments if this is deemed necessary. The Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction has an important role to play in identifying what is possible within the existing legal framework and any gaps in the framework that may make it necessary to negotiate new instruments. Norway will continue to actively support and participate in this group with a view to contributing to a decision on the possible development of a new international instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, before the end of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly. We encourage all states to share their views on the feasibility, parameters and scope of a possible new instrument before the next meeting of the working group in March 2014.


Clear maritime boundaries are essential for identifying which state has rights and obligations in which areas under the Law of the Sea. This is important in relation to the sustainable exploitation of marine resources and environmental protection. A clear legal framework 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 Convention and is necessary to clarify the legal framework for future shelf activities and protection of the marine environment. It also has important development implications. The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf makes a significant contribution in this regard.  It is therefore crucial that the Secretary-General and the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea continue to make every effort to ensure efficient working conditions for the Commission.

The establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf is a complex process. For many developing countries that do not have sufficient financial and human resources, preparing the necessary submissions to the Commission is a challenge. Norway would like to encourage all states that are able to do so to assist developing countries in the preparation of documentation for submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Thank you.

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