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 Katrín Gunnarsdóttir,
Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture
High-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of
Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the
oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Partnership Dialogue 4:
Making Fisheries Sustainable
7 June 2017
The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
800 Third Ave. 36th fl. - Tel 212-593-2700. - Fax 212-593-6269
Distinguished co-chairs, Mr. Moderator, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
For centuries, even up to quite recently, people thought that fish stocks were
inexhaustible. No one saw a need to limit fisheries. Experience, sometimes bitter, has
taught us otherwise. Modern science has demonstrated that living marine resources have
limited productive capacities – these are not endless resources! But with strict
management systems and effective enforcement we can ensure that future generations
continue to harvest food from the sea. Key to this is a strong scientific basis and the
sharing of knowledge and experiences.
There is good news: fisheries can be sustainable, they can be profitable and they can
benefit the whole of society. The Icelandic science-based fisheries management system
has overcome some of the traditional inefficiencies of the past that still hamper many of
the world´s fisheries. It is built on scientific knowledge, adherence to restrictive
regulations and careful taxation.
We are committed to good science. Iceland has registered a commitment to map the
ocean floor in the Icelandic EEZ with the help of multibeam-ecohosounder techniques –
this knowledge is fundamental for future conservation and sustainable use of bottom life.
We have also registered a commitment to prioritize the development and adoption of
formal fisheries management plans with long-term precautionary harvest control rules for
commercially important fish stocks in Icelandic waters for the next few years – such
plans have proven to contribute to strong and healthy fish stocks.
But in the international context 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 together.
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, science-based
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, lets build on optimism instead of pessimism.
Thank you.