Statement by Mr. Jón Erlingur Jónasson Deputy Permanent Representative.
The marine ecosystem is under increased pressure from a range of activities, including pollutants, overfishing, waste and litter, invasive alien species, climate change and ocean acidification. It is undeniable that human activities do affect marine biodiversity, both within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction. This may result in loss of biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and resilience, with corresponding harmful effects for goods and services.
As our Ad Hoc Working Group is meeting weeks after the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, let us be mindful of the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity. Changes in water chemistry and temperature alone may threaten a number of vulnerable ecosystems, including cold-water coral reefs, and lead to great shifts in biodiversity, especially in sensitive zones such as the polar areas. Many marine organisms, in particular those inhabiting the deep sea, tend to live within narrow temperature ranges and may be unable to adapt to sudden changes.
For the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction it is vital for decision makers to be well informed of the state of the marine environment. Scientific research must be encouraged and capacity building ensured in order to for developing countries to contribute effectively.
For these reasons, and many others, we should welcome the start-up of the first cycle of the regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects. The endorsement of the start-up phase allows for the necessary preparatory work to be conducted in the first year so as to have the first fully integrated assessment of the regular process completed by the year 2014. This process should be taken fully into account as our meeting considers appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly.
This year we commemorate the International Year of Biodiversity. Looking ahead to the one-day high-level event on biodiversity next September, prior to the general debate of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, we should make sure that the issue of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction is given the consideration it deserves.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides the legal framework for all activities in the oceans, including the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. A number of specialized agreements supplement the Convention by providing measures for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. The implementation of the Convention and relevant agreements will promote the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
In our view, the Law of the Sea Convention provides a sufficient legal framework for the conservation and exploitation of marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction and offers at the same time a great amount of flexibility. Iceland is willing to engage in a constructive debate for the purpose of finding fair and equitable practical solutions regarding the conservation and exploitation of marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including benefit sharing, within the existing legal framework.
We look forward to a constructive and fruitful discussion in the coming days.