Category Archives: International Organizations

EU: Council approves agreement on working conditions for seafarers

On 7 December the European Council of the EU approved a directive which gives legal effect to an agreement between EU social partners in the maritime sector. As a result of the agreement with social partners, amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention made in 2014 can be incorporated into EU law. The objective of the agreement is to protect seafarers’ rights in case of abandonment; the agreement also provides compensation for contractual claims for death or long-term disability of seafarers due to occupational injury, illness or hazard. Thanks to the incorporation of the agreement into EU law, seafarers will be covered by a mandatory financial security system. More information about this agreement may be found here.

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UNEP: draft resolution on marine litter and microplastics passed

The United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, has passed a draft resolution on marine litter and microplastics. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goal target 14.1, which seeks, by 2025, to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”. The document, dated 5 December 2017, may be found here. More information about the meeting, which included thirteen draft resolutions and three decisions, may be found here.

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Arctic: commercial fishing moratorium agreement signed

The member states of the informal group “Arctic-five” (Canada, USA, Russia, Norway, and Greenland/Denmark), together with representatives of other states (Iceland, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union)  have reached agreement on a legally binding international agreement that will protect nearly three million square kilometers of the Central Arctic Ocean from unregulated fishing. The initial term of the agreement is 16 years, after which it will automatically be extended every five years unless a country objects or until science-based fisheries quotas and rules are put in place. The NGO Ocean Conservancy has referred to this as an example of the precautionary approach. This accord comes two years after a previously set moratorium. Evidence of this new agreement may be found here: (Canada) (Norway) (EU).

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UNESCO: Global Ocean Science Report

The UNESCO has published the Global Ocean Science Report. This document assesses for the first time the status and trends in ocean science capacity around the world. The report offers a global record of who, how, and where ocean science is conducted. According to the organization, this is the first collective attempt to systematically highlight opportunities as well as capacity gaps to advance international collaboration in ocean science and technology. The report may be found in all of the UN official languages here.

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ASEAN: consultations on South China Sea code of conduct to start

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will start consultations on the text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. This is one of the outcomes of the 31st ASEAN meeting, which also culminated in a joint Declaration for a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea (2017-2027). Chinese official reports on that matter may be found here and here. The issue of freedom of navigation and overflight has been mentioned here.

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EU: Commission approves Belgian tax measures for maritime transport

The European Commission has approved the prolongation of various Belgian support measures for maritime transport. The scheme encourages shipping companies to register their ships in Europe and so ensure higher social, environmental and safety standards. Belgium has committed to a number of changes to its scheme to prevent any discrimination between shipping companies and registries of different European Economic Area (EEA) States and to avoid undue competition distortions. The Belgian authorities have also committed to extend the benefit of tonnage tax to all eligible ships that fly an EEA flag. More information is available here.

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WTO: Compliance report US — Tuna II (Mexico)

On the 26 October 2017, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued the compliance panel report on the revised US “dolphin-safe” tuna labeling measure, arising from DS381: United States — Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products. The 2016 Tuna Measures (USA) was found consistent with the requirements set forth in Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement and justified under Article XX of the GATT 1994.

For more information see the WTO news item here, and case summary page here.

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