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NZ Heads United Nations Law Of The Sea Body

18 April 2002

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed New Zealand’s election as President of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

New Zealand Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Don MacKay, was elected to the position at a meeting in New York this week. The position is held for a year.

“When the Convention was adopted in 1982, following almost 14 years of effort to establish a new legal order for the oceans, it was regarded as a monumental achievement of the international community, second only to the Charter of the United Nations.

“It has been very beneficial to New Zealand, not only in securing our access to sea lanes on which our trade is highly dependent, but also in ensuring there is order on the oceans.

“ In economic terms, it has provided the basis for a fishing industry with exports over NZ$1.3 billion each year - giving it 6th ranking in exports -to say nothing of domestic fisheries consumption.

“Many of us remember when foreign vessels did the fishing off New Zealand, but the Law of the Sea Convention put an end to that.

“We now control an exclusive economic zone approximately 15 times the land area of New Zealand, and we’re currently completing a claim to the seabed beyond that, which will go to the Continental Shelf Commission set up by the Convention, probably in 2006.

“The Convention also made a signficant difference to our Pacific Island neighbours, many of which depend on their fisheries as their only significant resource.

“The States Parties’ meeting, which New Zealand will preside over, ensures that the Convention continues to operate effectively, including the disputes settlement system and the Commission which considers claims to continental shelf areas such as New Zealand’s.

“Later this year there will also be a special high level commemoration at the United Nations, of the first twenty years of the Convention, and it will be fitting for New Zealand to hold the Presidency at that time, given the importance of the oceans for us and our neighbours,” Mr Goff said.


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