News Release

U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C. Nov. 18

The U.S. Department of State hosted a ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences to sign the revised Inter-American Tropical Tuna Convention (IATTC) on Friday, November 14, 2003. Representatives of five of the thirteen current Parties to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Convention signed the revised agreement on the first day it was opened for signature. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky signed for the United States. Representatives from Costa Rica, France, Mexico and Peru also signed as Parties. The remaining members of the IATTC, including Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Japan, Nicaragua, Panama, Vanuatu, Venezuela, are expected to sign the revised Convention soon. The Convention is also open for signature by other coastal states in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, by states whose vessels fish for highly migratory fish species in the region, and by non-state actors such as the European Union and Chinese Taipei. At the ceremony on November 14th, Chinese Taipei signed a separate instrument through which it will participate as a member of the Commission.

The revised Inter-American Tropical Tuna Convention brings the original 1949 Agreement between the United States and Costa Rica into the 21st century by reflecting the development and evolution of international law over the past half century. In particular, the revised Convention seeks to incorporate the new international legal regime as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and other important legal instruments governing the conservation and management of fishery resources.

The objective of the revised Convention is to ensure, through proper management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. In this regard, it recognizes the need for a precautionary approach to fisheries conservation and management and contains provisions to ensure that impacts on associated and dependent species and species associated with the same ecosystem are taken into consideration in managing the fishery. Additional provisions provide for addressing bycatch and discards of juvenile tunas and non-target species, and stress the need to ensure that management measures are based on the best scientific evidence available.

The revised Convention will remain open for signature through December 31, 2004.

November 20, 2003


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