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Digitization Update - Marine Resources

Unloading mackerel at the Pusan fish market
UN Photo / M. Guthrie
Friday 5 June 2020

Topics: Digital Collections

Data from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reveal that over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.  Unfortunately, 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks are overexploited, reaching below the level at which they can produce sustainable yields.  In light of global aspirations expressed in Sustainable Development Goal 14 (sustainable use of marine resources), the commitment of the international community to conserve the living resources of the oceans needs to be re-evaluated.

The General Assembly (GA) began considering the issue of the high seas and territorial waters in 1949 when it mandated the International Law Commission (ILC) to study the topic on a priority basis (resolution 374(IV)).  Debates around this agenda continued and in 1953, the GA requested the ILC to further study the closely interlinked problems relating to the high seas, territorial waters, contiguous zones, the continental shelf, and the superjacent waters (resolution 798 (VIII)).

GA resolution 900 (IX) of 14 Dec. 1954 called for the First International Technical Conference on the Conservation of the Living Resources of the Sea to be held between 18 April and 10 May 1955 at the FAO Headquarters in Rome Italy.  The purpose of the Conference was to review problems related to the development and conservation of fisheries and make technical and scientific recommendations to the ILC.  Forty-five countries, six observer delegations, and twelve international organizations attended the Conference.

The Conference encouraged international cooperation in scientific research of marine living resources,  their life-cycles and migrations, and for the regulation of high-seas fisheries based on sound scientific evidence and data.  Delegates studied technical papers submitted to the Conference and reviewed several existing international fisheries regimes to evaluate their effectiveness in maintaining fish stocks at healthy and sustainable levels.  The Conference also recommended a variety of conservation measures to States, as well as key elements for future international conservation agreements.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has now digitized the complete documentation of the Conference consisting of technical and working papers, meeting records, and committee reports.  We invite you to explore these historical documents in the UN Digital Library

More information:

Research Guide:  Ocean Conference and SDG 14

Website: World Oceans Day

Website:  Oceans and Law of the Sea

Website:  SDG 14 (sustainable use of marine resources)