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The Role Of The Precautionary Principle In The Conservation

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The Role Of The Precautionary Principle In The Conservation

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Introduction

In general terms, biodiversity refers to a variety and variability of life on earth; whereas marine biodiversity shows different species present in the ecosystem. Marine biodiversity tends to be the highest along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest in all the oceans. It generally tends to cluster in hotspots and it increases through time; however it will be likely to slow in the future. The present research work has been emphasizing on all the principles that can be applied for the purpose of conserving marine biodiversity. Biodiversity is concerned with the number and variety of plants, animals and other organism and they are also the essential component of nature which aids in proper survival of the human species. The richness of biodiversity is dependent on the climatic conditions along with the area of the region

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All species of plants taken together are called as flora and around 300,000 species of plants are known to date; however all species of animals are taken together to consider as fauna which includes birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and molluscs. Rapid changes in the environment causes mass extinctions; hence chief focus is required to be given towards marine conservation. It can be said that marine resources needs protection and preservation of eco-systems in oceans and seas. Thus, chief focus is laid on limiting human – caused damage to marine ecosystem which also restores and preserves vulnerable marine species. Thus, as per the application of principles, discussion has also been made regarding implications of precautionary principle on research, management and legal aspects.

Further, key policy areas are also identified which aids in protecting the marine life. Along with this, different areas are also discussed wherein biodiversity principles are required to be adopted. Moreover, specific challenges are also defined that generally arise at the time of applying principles in the areas of concern. Marine resource conservation is an active response to biological issues like as extinction and marine habitats change. It chiefly relies on a combination of scientific principles that is derived from marine biology, fisheries science as well as oceanography.

Research aim and objectives

Aim:

The aim of the present research study is to analyse the role of precautionary principle in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

Objectives:

In order to meet the aim of the research study, focus has been laid on framing different objectives.

  • To identify the principles used in conserving marine biodiversity
  • To ascertain the role of precautionary principle in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity
  • o explore the challenges that arise at the time of conserving marine biodiversity

The above mentioned objectives have been framed with the purpose of ascertaining all the precautionary principles that are developed for the purpose of conserving marine biodiversity. Thus, regarding this researcher has been describing all the associated challenges that usually arise at the time of conserving marine species.

The development of the precautionary principle

The Precautionary Principle was incorporated in the year 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and development which defines different action policy that suspects the risk that can cause harm to the public, environment and in the absence of scientific consensus. Policy makers are responsible to use such principles for the purpose of justifying discretionary decisions in that situations where there is a possibility of harm from a certain decision. This usually when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. As per the principle, there is a social responsibility exist which protect the public from different harms and risks. Along with that, appropriate protection can be taken suitably that also emerges for protecting the public and natural species. In some legal systems and in the law of the European Union, it is essential to apply to precautionary principle as a statutory requirement in a few areas of law.

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However, on the other hand regarding international conduct, the first endorsement of the principle was established in the year 1982 when the World Charter for Nature was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly; nonetheless the first international implementation was made in the year 1987 through the Montreal Protocol. Afterwards, the principle is then integrated with many other legal binding international treaties like as the Rio Declaration and Kyoto Protocol. However, on the other hand, in economic terms, the Precautionary Principle has been analysed in terms of the effect on rational decision making of the interaction of irreversibility and uncertainty. Thus, it can be said that the Precautionary Principle defines much of the way people begin to respond to the challenges associated with sustainable development especially in the context of environment.

Further, it also urges a willingness to take action on the ground of society which also generates the need for future development. Central to the application of the Precautionary Principle, it can be said that it is a cost effective approach that leads to social and economic aspects. Under this several policies are being developed to reduce the threat of future climate changes which further leads to radical shifts in travel and energy- use behaviour. The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development contends that when there are threats of serious irreversible damage, then scientific certainty could not be used as a reason to postpone cost effective measures for preventing environmental degradation. On the other hand, as per the Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle (which is formulated by an international group of scientists, lawyers, government officials and environmental activists), precautionary action includes 4 major parts such as:

  • It is the duty of people to take anticipatory action to reduce the possible opportunities of harm and risks.
  • The burden derived from the proof of harmlessness of a new technology, process activity or use of chemical components lies within its proponents; not in the general public.
  • It also states that prior using a new technology, chemical or a process, people (who have obligation) needs to examine all the alternatives that are present in the procedural values.
  • Decisions that are being applied to the precautionary principle needs to be open, informed and democratic and it must also include affected parties.

Most of the legal perspective states that environmental policy incorporates precautionary principle which imposes regulatory measures that are based upon the barest potential of environmental harm. Precautionary measures are usually taken at the time when cause and effect relationships are not fully established. However, on the other hand it also includes precautionary measures which is proponent of an activity or new technology that bear the burden of proof to demonstrate the thing that is without risk.

Challenges in implementing the precautionary principle

At the time of implementing the precautionary principle, it is crucial for the ruling bodies to consider all the associated challenges as well. The Precautionary Principle will perhaps stop development or innovation as the burden of proof is on the product and services prior it comes to the market. Thus, along with this, it can also be said that The Precautionary Principle is based on emotion and it is irrational as well which goes towards environmental activities and which do not focuses on chemical aspects. Since, it uses a toxic substance; therefore it could include any such principle that emphasizes on precautionary principle. While applying precautionary measures, it is required to consider if Precautionary measures deals with all the hazards for which the environment degrades on higher extent.

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Since, Precautionary Principle was adopted in the Masstricht Treaty of the European Union; therefore it needs to be referenced in numerous international environmental treaties. Further, it could also be incorporated into the operative provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. However, at the same time, adoption of precautionary principle can increase the risks to human health and environment protection through focusing on the risks that is posed by the introduction of new technologies; however at the same time it can also ignore the risks which new technologies could prevent or alleviate.

General implications of the precautionary principle

Precautionary principle has several implications on research study as that could assist the researcher in identifying the areas that are less emphasized on environmental facets and which do not give much consideration towards sustainable development. In terms of implication for the researcher, it can be said that this can assist in enhancing the knowledge about biodiversity and marine conservation and accordingly, diverse actions can be taken suitably. Thus, it is clear that the study would be more interesting and helpful in comprehending the areas that are associated with sustainable development. Biodiversity management is required to undertake several actions and plans that can change the conservation aspects of the environment.

Another implication could be observed in the area of natural development wherein several actions can be taken for the purpose of enhancing the value of environment and ecological balance. Moreover, this could also enhance legal implications in which environment department has to establish a number of legal rules and procedures that increases the value of environment and sustainable development. This is also essential in terms of enhancing the value of ecosystem and environmental balance. Legal policies and framework could also be enhanced at the same time in which several regulations will be required to adhere to meet the changing laws of sustainable development.

Chapter 1

Precaution in biodiversity- related law and policy

Multi-lateral agreements (CBD, UNCLOS and MARPOL)

Multi- lateral agreements are binding agreement among countries and sometimes it also builds agreement between regional groups of countries (especially among European Union). Countries as well as regions who are the member of the international agreements are known as “parties”. In this respect, The Convention on Biological Diversity agreement can be applied which came into force in the year 1994; however it became agreed in the year 1992. Currently, it has more than 190 parties. The main aim of The Convention on Biological Diversity is to conserve the biological diversity and also to protect the sustainable use of its components so that fair and equitable sharing of benefits could be made. This is also essential in terms of utilization of genetic resources in optimum manner. There are basically two major articles that are included for biotechnology and biosafety and that needs to be adhered.

Article 8 is about “In situ conservation of biodiversity”

The article contains an obligation which develops and maintains National Biosafety Systems and this is also useful in establishing risks that are associated with living modified organisms. Further, it is also analysed that the article seems to manage and regulate the risks which arises in the form of release of living organism from biotechnology. This has a likely impact on environmental aspects which could also affect the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. This also considers risks that are concerned with human health and that changes the ways through which harm and environmental risks could be reduced.

Article 19 is about “Handling biotechnology and distribution of its benefits”

The article states that each of the contracting parties needs to take proper measures to participate in biotechnological research activities by those contractual parties which are developed by developing countries. This also provides genetic resources for such research which are feasible according to contracting parties. Further, it is also mentioned that each of the contracting party should adopt practical measures to promote the advance priority access on fair and equitable basis according to contracting parties. This is especially developed by emerging countries so as to benefit biotechnologies that are based upon genetic resources.

The article also instructs the parties to consider the need of a protocol setting that appropriately includes advanced informed agreement in the field of safe transfer. This is also useful in handling any living organism through biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. In the year 1995, The Contractual Parties decided that such a protocol needs to be adhered; hence during that time negotiations started in the year 1996. Afterwards, five years of negotiation, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted and came into force in the year 2003.

International regulations Rio Declaration 1992, Agenda 21

It can be stated that the conference of United Nation on Environment and Development which took place in the year 1992, is considered as one of the most effective meeting which has been ever took place in the history of mankind. The meeting was proposed and carried out with an objective that elements such as social; development, economic and environment should not be treated as separately. Along with this, the meeting was also carried out with a purpose to talk about various issues such as changes in global climate, increasing rate of deforestation, challenges in terms of managing the biological diversity etc. In simpler terms, International regulations Rio Declaration 1992, Agenda 21 can be termed as the action plan or strategy which has been developed by United Nations with an objective to promote and carry out more sustainable development. Here, the number 21 in agenda 21 is used for or denotes 21st century.

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It is an action plan which has been adopted by different organizations and United Nations for carrying out more sustainable development and protecting the environment in the best possible manner. Trade was considered as the major component or as a medium of carrying out the promotion of sustainable development in the world. Along with this, the objective of these International regulations Rio Declaration 1992, Agenda 21 was also of making the trade and environment supportive for each other. It was observed that all the economic activities and practices related to trade were affecting environment in negative terms. Thus, the agenda 21 was developed in order to ensure and encourage economic policies which are integrated with the concept of sustainable development.

In simpler terms, sustainable development can be termed as an approach or process which promotes economic development along with the protection of environment and people living in the society. Furthermore, the approach lays emphasis on the fact that no country should carry out economic development by providing harm to environment or people living in society. Here, global partnership within countries was promoted in order to accelerate sustainable development and deal with other issues related to climate change. International regulations Rio Declaration 1992, Agenda 21 can be termed as the product which has been derived from the Earth Summit.

However, it can be critically argued that International regulations Rio Declaration 1992, Agenda 21 was also affirmed and several modifications has been carried out in the same. The modifications or changes were carried out generally in the meetings of UN which were done after the Rio declarations. Apart from this, Agenda 21 was also focused in combating from issues such as poverty at both international and national level. The UN and other member organizations developed effective strategies for providing people within potential opportunity to earn a sustainable livelihood. In addition to this, Agenda 21 also laid emphasis on eliminating the unsustainable patterns which are being used within process such as production and consumption of different goods and services.

Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity (1995)

Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity realizes that biological diversity comprises variability of genes, species and ecosystems (which are world’s most valuable resources) that also aids in sustaining and welfare of all humankind. In this respect, it can be said that The Jakarta Mandate is a global consensus which emphasizes on the importance of marine and coastal biological diversity4. It is also regarded as a part of the Ministerial Statement at the COP meeting in Jakarta in the year 1995. This happened during the implementation of the Convention of Biological Diversity. The work programme was also adopted by the COP meeting in Bratislava in the year 1998. It is also promoted and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Convention and it has basic six principles such as:

  • The ecosystem approach
  • The precautionary principle
  • The importance of science
  • Proper utilization should be made under the roaster of experts
  • Suitable involvement of local and indigenous communities
  • Proper involvement of three levels (national, regional and global level) for the purpose of implementing programme.

The pressure on coastal and marine environments was highlighted in the comprehensive Global Biodiversity assessment which is also commissioned by UNEP (that is funded by the Global Environment facility) and is presented to the COP meeting in Jakarta in the year 1995. This has been imitated as ministers reaffirmed that there is a critical need for the COP to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity. This also develops urge to the parties to initiate immediate actions to implement the decision that are adopted on this issue. It also has integration with marine and coastal area management that changes the scenario of marine biodiversity wherein different species live together.

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Several additions are also there regarding Marine and coastal protected areas along with Alien species and genotypes. In addition to this, general element was also identified that encompasses the coordinating role of the secretariat which collaborates the effective use of experts. Thus, it can be said that Jakarta Mandate states the importance of marine and coastal biological diversity which forms new possible areas of the sea. This also aids in reflecting the diversity of life in this blue planet. Further, it also demonstrates that there is still a big lack of knowledge of the ocean and the scope of its life. Currently, it shows an estimation of around 1.7 million species among which a few are still unknown.

Domestic regulations

During the past decade, a number of international conventions have included new obligations which shows the need for management activities that regulates uses of the oceans. This includes legal interventions like UN Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Sticks and the FAQ Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Regarding this international agreements, national legislation and policies have been put in place to incorporate ecosystem considerations within national ocean management regimes. This has also stated about the convention for the conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The main objective of WCPT Convention is to ensure the long term and effective conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific in accordance with UNCLOS and UNFSA.

Regarding this, it is also crucial to emphasize on convention on conservation of nature in the south pacific which aims to conserve, utilize and developed the natural resources of the South Pacific region. This is done through careful planning and management for the benefit of present and future generations. Along with this, several other policies are also established as a legal strategy for the management of coastal and marine waters along with the Jurisdiction aspects.

Fisheries-The UN Fish Stocks Agreement 1995

The 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement marked a major step forward in the development of a legal regime which emphasizes on long term conservation and sustainable use of straddling along with migratory fish stocks. However, on the other hand, other efforts are needed to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement. This already has a profound impact on fisheries governance at the time when it is entered into force in the year 2001. Further, the 1995 Agreement also builds on the relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the sea. This also addresses problems related to the management of high seas fisheries which is identified in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

According to Agency 21, there are problems of unregulated fishing, over capitalization, excessive fleet size, unreliable database and lack of sufficient cooperation among customers. This is also called for action by States to cooperate in order to address inadequacies in fishing practices.

References

  • ‘The United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (in force as from 11 December 2001) Overview’ (2016)
  • ‘Fish Stocks Agreement: Overview of what the Agreement says and its impact’ (2010) <http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/reviewconf/FishStocks_EN_B.pd> accessed on 1st March 2017.
  • René von Schomberg, ‘The precautionary principle and its normative challenges (2006) <http://www.roboethics.org/icra2007/contributions/VON%20SCHOMBERG%20Precautionary%20Principle.pdf> accessed on 1st March 2017.
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