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 Home > News & Policies > May 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 16, 2005

Message to the United States Senate Regarding Antigua Convention


With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Convention for the Strengthening of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission established by the 1949 Convention between the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica, with Annexes, (the "Antigua Convention"), which was adopted on June 27, 2003, in Antigua, Guatemala, by the Parties to the 1949 Convention. The United States signed the Antigua Convention on November 14, 2003. I also transmit, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Secretary of State with respect to the Antigua Convention, with an enclosure.

The Antigua Convention sets forth the legal obligations and establishes the cooperative mechanisms necessary for the long term conservation and sustainable use of the highly migratory fish stocks (such as tuna and swordfish) of the Eastern Pacific Ocean that range across extensive areas of the high seas as well as through waters under the fisheries jurisdiction of numerous coastal States. Once in force, the Antigua Convention will replace the original 1949 Convention establishing the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Revisions to the 1949 Convention will strengthen the mandate of the IATTC to reflect changes in the law governing living marine resources since the adoption of the original Convention more than 50 years ago.

The highly migratory fish stocks governed by the Antigua Convention constitute an important economic resource for the countries of the region and vital components of the marine ecosystem of the Eastern Pacific Ocean requiring careful conservation and management. Early entry into force and implementation of the Antigua Convention will offer the opportunity to strengthen conservation and management of these resources in important ways, including through enhanced efforts to ensure compliance and enforcement of agreed conservation and management measures.

The Antigua Convention draws upon relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the "LOS Convention") and the 1995 United Nations Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (the "U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement"). The Antigua Convention gives effect to the provisions of the LOS Convention and U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement that recognize as essential, and require cooperation to conserve highly migratory fish stocks through regional fishery management organizations, by those with direct interests in them - coastal States with authority to manage fishing in waters under their jurisdiction and those nations and entities whose vessels fish for these stocks.

The United States, which played an instrumental role in negotiation of the revised Convention, has direct and important interests in the Antigua Convention and its early and effective implementation. United States fishing concerns, including the U.S. tuna industry, U.S. conservation organizations, and U.S. consumers, as well as those people who reside in those U.S. States bordering the Convention Area, have crucial stakes in the health of the oceans and their resources as promoted by the Antigua Convention.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Antigua Convention and give its advice and consent to ratification.



May 16, 2005.

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