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Kevin Chand

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Working towards a new High Seas treaty (BBNJ PrepCom 3)

Jun 6, 2017 / by Kevin Chand posted in Oceans Law, UNCLOS, International Law

In a previously published legal bulletin we discussed Biodiversity on the high seas, and the increasingly recognized need for an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) to regulate biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). Recently, progress towards the ILBI came in the way of the third session of the preparatory committee on Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (PrepCom 3).

PrepCom 3 was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York from March 27 to April 7. I had the good fortune to observe proceedings as an observer through an invite from a New York City based non-profit that supports small islands developing states permanent missions to the UN in oceans and climate change negotiations.

In this bulletin, we set out how PrepCom 3 fleshed out discussions on what the main elements of the treaty would be. This included inter alia, Marine Genetic Resources, Area-Based Management Tools, Environmental Impact Assessments, Capacity Building and Technology Transfer. These substantive areas of discussion form what will be the core elements of the treaty body and address some of the primary issues faced with respect to high seas regulation and management (or lack thereof). The lack of any cohesive form of regulation on the high seas means that these parts of the ocean are often subject to unchecked resource exploitation. Coming to a consensus on how this treaty is framed and articulated is one of the first steps towards an ILBI.

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Paris, Marrakech and beyond

Mar 30, 2017 / by Kevin Chand posted in Oceans Law, climate change

In November 2016, the Moroccan city of Marrakech hosted the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC provides the foundation for international cooperation to combat climate change and its impacts on nations and the environment. Both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement sit within this framework. The Conference of the Parties serve as formal meetings for parties to the UNFCCC where member nations can take stock of their progress, monitor the implementation of their obligations and continue discussions on how best to tackle climate change. Marrakech also served as the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Marrakech followed COP 21 in Paris, which culminated in the much-lauded Paris Agreement. Marrakech was seen as the opportunity to tie up loose ends and finalize details for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In this bulletin we examine why climate change is an important legal issue for oceans, and provide an overview of the significant achievement of COP 21 in Paries, what happened in Marrakech and look forward to the opportunities and challenges at COP 23 in Bonn where Fiji will take a leading role and at what is being dubbed as "the Pacific COP".

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Biodiversity on the High Seas

Feb 21, 2017 / by Kevin Chand posted in Oceans Law, UNCLOS, International Law

Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) includes the High Seas, which accounts for approximately 64% of the world’s ocean, and the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction. In the High Seas no State has jurisdiction, meaning individual States have no management rights, and activities in this area with respect to marine biodiversity remain largely unregulated.

While there are some regional management plans that exist on the High Seas, these are often restricted to certain species or industries and ultimately result in an ad hoc and overall, poorly managed ocean. Overexploitation of fish stocks, increasing marine pollution, and habitat destruction, together with the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification mean that now more than ever there is an urgent need to protect larger expanses of the ocean particularly the High Seas.

In this bulletin we look at the efforts of the international community through the United Nations, as it attempts to regulate the High Seas through international law mechanisms. 

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A Legal Policy Discussion of Shark Conservation in Fiji

Feb 21, 2017 / by Kevin Chand posted in Oceans Law, Sharks

Sharks are renowned apex predators in the ecosystems they occupy and therefore play an important regulatory role in maintaining the health and balance in an ocean ecosystem. Sharks primarily prey on the weak and sick in other marine species and this helps in both strengthening genepools and preventing the spread of disease in prey species. This grooming of other species is an important function in the intricate ocean food webs and one of the reasons why sharks are considered keystone species by some marine scientists, meaning that their removal could cause a collapse of these systems. This role is particularly important in vulnerable ecosystems like coral reefs.

In this bulletin we briefly consider the Fiji legislation that protects sharks in Fiji's waters and suggest that an integrated approach to protecting sharks in line with a National Plan of Action may be required.

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