NOAA 2002-117
Contact: Gordon Helm
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and partner countries in international fisheries management have made significant progress in the protection, rational use and development of the world’s marine life since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Among the success stories by NOAA, the U.S. State Department and international partners are:

  • The first binding international agreement dedicated exclusively to the protection of sea turtles came into force in 2001.

    Each signatory agrees to implement broad measures for the conservation of sea turtles, including the prohibition on intentional take (except for subsistence as allowed under the convention), domestic or international sale, and the conservation and restoration of habitat and nesting beaches, the promotion of efforts to enhance sea turtle populations, the reduction of by-catch in the course of fishing activities and the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDS) with certain allowances for exceptions.

    Nine nations are currently parties to this convention.

  • The first agreement on international dolphin conservation during Eastern Tropical Pacific tuna fishing in 1999.

    The agreement details conservative species/stock specific annual dolphin mortality limits and includes additional protection for other living marine resources, to achieve an ecosystem approach to management of the fishery.

    The agreement also establishes a scientific advisory board and an international review panel to monitor compliance with the dolphin protection measures, rules regarding on-board observers and elements of an international tuna-tracking program.

    Eleven nations have signed this agreement.

  • Adoption of the United Nations international fish stocks agreement in 1995.

    An important instrument for achieving sustainable fisheries around the globe, it sets out principles for the conservation of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. It introduces new principles and concepts to fisheries management including the precautionary approach, vessel monitoring systems, compatibility of conservation and management measures, transparency of activities within subregional and regional fishery management organizations, compliance with nonmember states with fishery management organizations’ measures, high seas boarding and inspection, port state measures, and data collection and sharing standards.

    Fifty-nine states and entities have signed this agreement.

  • Signing of agreement to promote compliance with international conservation and management measures by fishing vessels on the high seas in 1993.

    The agreement reaffirms the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that flag states must exercise effective control over their vessels fishing on the high seas. It elaborates this obligation by requiring that all such vessels be licensed to conduct such fishing, that the licenses by conditioned on the vessel abiding by internationally-agreed conservation and management measures, and sets up the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as an archive and clearing house for information on fishing vessels, particularly those that have broken applicable rules and been punished.

    Twenty-three nations have signed this agreement.

  • Adoption of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in 1995 - and development of four international plans of action:
  • Reducing incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries.
  • International conservation and management of sharks.
  • Management of fishing capacity.
  • Prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

    The concept of the Code of Conduct was discussed at the 1992 Rio Summit. It was developed as a set of principles and international standards of behavior for responsible fishing practices. It was adopted by the Twenty-eighth session of the FAO Conference on Oct. 31, 1995. The Code of Conduct recognizes all aspects of fisheries, including economical, social biological and environmental. It also recognizes the interests of users of the resource while providing for the effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources.

    The Code was adopted by consensus by the 160-members of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

  • First agreement to apply conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean in 2000.

    This 2000 convention was the first to be signed that was purposefully modeled after the United Nationals Fish Stock Agreement. It also features the key principles of precautionary approach, compatibility, minimum standards of data collection and sharing, and transparency. It is intended to apply a conservation and management regime to the last significant unmanaged tuna resource, one currently worth $1.5—$2 billion per year

    The Convention has been signed by 25 states. It goes into effect September 2003, if it contains at least 13 signers.

“As the world looks forward to the World Summit on Sustainable Development of our oceans, it is important to commend the meaningful and substantive contributions that have been made on behalf of our world’s marine environment since the Rio summit in 1992,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Launtebaucher, Jr., Ph. D., commerce undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Our ultimate goal is to work with our international fishing nation partners to achieve sustainable marine fisheries for future generations.”

At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the international community adopted Agenda 21 (Chapter 17 of the agenda addresses marine fisheries sustainable development), a global program of action for achieving sustainable development.

The 10-year follow-up to Rio, the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, is an opportunity for governments and organizations to assess the progress made since then, and to develop new partnerships and initiatives to implement Agenda 21.

Details about NOAA’s work on sustainable development are available at

NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit