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1. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a global mandate to promote and, when appropriate, to recommend national and international action pertaining, inter alia, to fisheries research, conservation and development. This mandate has been used by the FAO to respond to the needs and requests of its members on a national, regional and global levels during a period when the legal regimes of the Oceans in general and those of fisheries in particular have gone through a number of fundamental changes.

2. The establishment of the 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in Article 57 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), brought most of the living resources of the seas under the exclusive jurisdiction of coastal states. The main consequence of the extended jurisdiction was the intensified fishing activities by distant water fishing nations (DWFNs) on the high seas which has adversely affected a number of areas including the Northwest Atlantic, the Southwest Atlantic, the Northeast Pacific, the East Central and Southwest Pacific. The severity of the problems associated with high seas fishing have caused the international community, the UN and the FAO to re-examine the problems and recommend practical solutions.

3. The important role of the regional fishery organizations in the management of high seas resources has long been recognized. They are the most appropriate means through which a more effective conservation and management of the fisheries resources can be achieved. These bodies, including FAO regional fishery bodies are, therefore, expected to play a more constructive and effective role in the light of the recent developments in high seas fishing.

4. This document provides a brief account of the recent developments concerning the management of high seas resources and describes the structure and functions of the FAO regional fishery bodies and their future role in the management of the high seas fisheries.

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