United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


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The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
Statement by
H.E. Thorgerdur Katrin Gunnarsd6ttir,
Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture
High-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of
Sustainable Development Gjoal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the
oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
General Debate
6 June 2017
The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
800 Third Ave. 36th ft. - Tel 212-593-2700. Fax 212-593-6269
Presidents of the Conference, Secretary-General of the Conference, Excellencies,
ladies and gentlemen,
First allow me to thank the Co-presidents, Fiji and Sweden, for bringing about this
High-Level Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable
Development Goal 14. It is a historic event.
Mr. President,
Without a clean, healthy, productive ocean, Agenda 2030 will be almost
impossible to attain. Sustainable management of natural resources is key to our
aims of eradicating poverty and hunger, ensuring healthy lives and promoting
sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The ocean covers 70% of
our Earth. Its central role is obvious.
Mr. President,
Iceland has direct experience of the power and potential of the ocean. The
transition of Iceland to a modem welfare state is thanks to an efficient, profitable
and sustainable fisheries sector. We have also seen innovation and regenerative
creativity, a cornerstone of the vision of the blue bioeconomy of the future.
Iceland's fisheries management system has overcome the traditional inefficiencies
of the past. The industry generates substantial economic profit which is subject to
special resource taxation, thus benefitting the whole economy.
Mr. President,
But we shouldn't try to reinvent the wheel. The United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, is the legal framework for all activities in the oceans
and seas. The management of high seas fisheries through a regional approach, in
line with the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, has proven a firm basis for sustainable
management. So, we already have the legal framework for successful
implementation of SDG 14 - as long as States meet their obligations and work
Iceland, as an Arctic Coastal State, takes part in the ongoing negotiations on a new
agreement to prevent unregulated high seas fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean
and has been engaged, within the Arctic Council, in consultations on increased
Arctic Marine cooperation.
The FAO Port State Measures Agreement is a milestone in our fight against IUU
fisheries and needs wide ratification to meet its objectives. We further believe that
global elimination of harmful subsidies in the fisheries sector is fundamental for
achieving responsible fisheries management.
Mr. President,
I am very honoured to be one of two co-chairs for partnership dialogue six on
Thursday, on "Increasing Scientific Knowledgeÿ and Developing Research
Capacity and Transfer of Marine Technology". Iceland has registered a
COlmrfitment to map the ocean bed within the Icelandic EEZ. We have also
registered a commitment to implement a Harvest Control Rule, or other relevant
measures, as appropriate, for management of commercially important stocks in
Icelandic waters, that are not already under such management, within ten years.
Iceland has for almost two decades contributed to capacity-building in fisheries
management in developing countries. We have mainly done this through the UN
University Fisheries Training Programme in Iceland.
Iceland has also made voluntary commitments to reduce marine litter in its waters
and to address acidification by producing an updated climate mitigation strategy
by the end of 2017, in line with our Paris Agreement obligations of a 40%
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It is remarkable that the Icelandic
fishing fleet, as a result of rationalization, driven by rights-based-fisheries
management, has already reduced its fuel consumption by 40% percent compared
to the baseline year.
Mr. President,
The global community has committed itself to end hunger. If we want the oceans
to be an essential part of this commitment, which I believe is imperative, sciencebased
sustainable harvesting of marine resources must become a universal
practice. Rather than claiming that responsible management of fisheries is
unattainable, we should highlight the many success stories and build on them
through sharing of knowledge and technology. In other words, let's build on
optimism instead of pessimism.
Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals is of vital importance to my
country and we will continue to contribute to its successful and effective