U.S. and China agree to increase cooperation in greenhouse gas observing and fisheries and ocean management

May 11, 2011

The third U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) meeting was held May 9–10 in Washington, D.C. A significant outcome of the S&ED relates to their cooperation on observing greenhouse gases and a renewed dialogue on bilateral fisheries and ocean management.

The countries agreed to establish regular bilateral fisheries consultations that will focus on conserving and managing marine living resources, expanding current efforts in high-seas fisheries enforcement and combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These consultations will improve cooperation between the two nations on a variety of important issues including preventing IUU fish and fish products from entering international markets, collecting data on species of particular concern in order to ensure their sustainable management and conservation, and preventing illegal or unintended take of sea turtles and other protected marine species.

Currently, the United States and China work multilaterally in various regional fishery management organizations to manage shared fish stocks and participate in other global organizations that protect ocean resources as part of their mandate. Having regular bilateral consultations will allow for better coordination to achieve common goals in those organizations and an enhanced dialogue to help bridge any differences. The new fisheries consultations will also lead to opportunities for the two nations to cooperate on fisheries enforcement and other activities that will improve global fisheries and fish supplies.

“This joint commitment to consult on fisheries management and enforcement will strengthen the U.S.-China relationship on fisheries management and ensure more coordinated and comprehensive management of the fish and living marine resources on which both of our economies and fishing industries depend,” said Russell Smith, deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The United States and China also agreed to build upon existing agreements reached at the 18th SOA-NOAA Joint Working Group Meeting on Cooperation on Marine and Fishery Science and Technology to formulate the U.S.-China 2011–2015 Framework Plan for Ocean and Fishery Science and Technology Cooperation. This framework would guide the future cooperation between China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) and NOAA and promote further development of a U.S.-China large-scale multidisciplinary joint program for the Indian and Southern Oceans in the near future. This joint program will be focused on increasing our understanding of the role of the oceans in climate variability and change and support management needs.

The two countries further agreed to enhanced cooperation on greenhouse gas observing in China. This will strengthen joint research between the Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA) and NOAA to develop accurate and reliable capabilities for observing and understanding the behavior of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A better understanding of the exchange of these gases among the land, the oceans and the atmosphere will improve greenhouse gas management decisions in both countries.

Climate change and variability impact all economic and societal sectors around the world, with significant impacts on agriculture, energy, transportation, economics, global security and human health. Scientists’ ability to understand atmospheric concentrations and future impacts of greenhouse gases is limited by the number of available observations and the information these provide on the global carbon cycle.

A joint effort to increase observations and evaluate the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and Earth will go a long way toward improving our understanding of the how the global carbon cycle will behave in a future of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and a changing climate. This improved understanding will increase our ability to jointly evaluate strategies for managing atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases.

The S&ED, intended to advance a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship between the United States and China, was established by President Obama and President Hu. The first was held in Washington in 2009; the second in Beijing last year.

The strategic track sessions were co-chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo; the economic track sessions were co-chaired by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke represented the Department of Commerce.

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