HC Deb 25 May 2000 vol 350 cc577-8W
Mr. Ian Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what outcome he expects from the forthcoming UN Informal Consultative Process on the Oceans to be held in New York on 30 May to 2 June. [124190]

Mr. Prescott

The establishment of a UN Informal Consultative Process is a new and promising development. For a long time, I have been calling for a single global focus for integrating action on the oceans. At the 1999 meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development, I particularly highlighted the need for better preparation of the annual UN General Assembly debate on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and better implementation by all states of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Chapter 17, Oceans and All Seas, of Agenda 21. I believe that the new Informal Consultative Process will address both these points.

The UK has played a leading role in getting the new Process established and we are looking forward to participating in a productive meeting. Although all aspects of the oceans and seas are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a whole, discussion should focus on one or two main areas, to get agreement on the progress to be made. In this inaugural meeting, the issues of tackling illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries and the economic and social implications of marine pollution have emerged as issues of particular concern. These are important issues and we want to ensure that the new process makes a real difference to progress in tackling them. In particular, there needs to be early entry into force of the UN fish stock agreement and full implementation of that agreement, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and the Global Programme of Action against land-based marine pollution. The new Process should promote concerted action for this purpose by all the different international bodies involved.