(Ratified by:
Canada: 22nd October, 1991
United States of America: 6th December, 1991
Japan: 24th January, 1992
People’s Republic of China: 31st August, 1992
Russian Federation: 16th December 1994
Republic of Korea: 30th July, 1995
Entered into force: 24th March, 1992)

Convention for a North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES)



RECOGNIZING the need for improved scientific understanding of the North Pacific Ocean and its processes, living resources, and oceanographic features;

AWARE that due to the vast expanse of the North Pacific Ocean, scientific understanding of the area can be best achieved through a spirit of international scientific cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis;

DESIRING to establish an appropriate intergovernmental organization to promote and facilitate such scientific cooperation and avoid duplication of effort;

ACKNOWLEDGING that the activity of the organization must be based on the principles and rules of the international law of the sea applicable to marine scientific research,

HAVE AGREED as follows:

Article I: Establishment of the Organization

The Contracting Parties hereby establish an intergovernmental organization entitled the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), hereinafter referred to as the "Organization".

Article II: The Area Concerned

The area which the activities of the Organization concern shall be the temperate and sub-Arctic region of the North Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas, especially northward from 30 degrees North Latitude, hereinafter referred to as the "area concerned". Activities of the Organization, for scientific reasons, may extend farther southward in the North Pacific Ocean.

Article III: Purpose of the Organization

The purpose of the Organization shall be:

  • to promote and coordinate marine scientific research in order to advance scientific knowledge of the area concerned and of its living resources, including but not necessarily limited to research with respect to the ocean environment and its interactions with land and atmosphere, its role in and response to global weather and climate change, its flora, fauna and ecosystems, its uses and resources, and impacts upon it from human activities;
  • to promote the collection and exchange of information and data related to marine scientific research in the area concerned.

Article IV : Structure of the Organization

The Organization shall consist of:

  • a Governing Council (the "Council");
  • such permanent or ad hoc scientific groups and committees as the Council may establish from time to time;
  • a Secretariat.

Article V : Functions of the Governing Council

  • The scientific functions of the Council shall be, inter alia:
    • to identify research priorities and problems pertaining to the area concerned, as well as appropriate methods for their solution;
    • to recommend coordinated research programs and related activities pertaining to the area concerned, which shall be undertaken through the national efforts of the participating Contracting Parties;
    • to promote and facilitate the exchange of scientific data, information, and personnel;
    • to consider requests to develop scientific advice pertaining to the area concerned;
    • to organize scientific symposia and other scientific events;
    • to foster the discussion of problems of mutual scientific interest.
  • The administrative functions of the Council shall be, inter alia:
    • to adopt and, if necessary, to amend the Rules of Procedure and Financial Regulations of the Organization;
    • to consider and recommend amendments to the Convention;
    • to adopt the annual report of the Organization;
    • to examine and adopt the annual budget and final accounts of the Organization;
    • to determine the location of the Secretariat;
    • to appoint the Executive Secretary;
    • to maintain contact with other relevant international organizations;
    • to manage the activities of the Organization.
  • The Council shall take such other decisions as may be necessary or desirable to enable the organization to carry out its activities efficiently and effectively.

Article VI : Composition and Procedures of the Governing Council

  • Each Contracting Party shall be a member of the Council and shall appoint to the Council not more than two delegates, who may be accompanied as appropriate by alternates, experts and advisers.
  • The Council shall elect a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman, taking due account of the principle of rotation among Contracting Parties. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman shall be representatives of different Contracting Parties. During his term the Chairman shall cease to be part of his national delegation.
  • The Chairman of the Council shall convene a regular annual meeting of the Organization. The annual meetings shall ordinarily be held at the seat of the Organization, unless otherwise decided by the Council.
  • Any meeting of the Council, other than the annual meeting, shall be called by the Chairman at such time and place as the Chairman may determine, upon the request of the Council.
  • The Council may invite other states, organizations, and experts to attend scientific meetings of the Organization, or to participate in activities of the Organization on such terms as the Council may establish.

Article VII : Decision Making in the Governing Council

  • Each Contracting Party shall have one vote in the proceedings of the Council.
  • The Council shall make every effort to take decisions on the basis of consensus. For the purpose of this Convention, consensus means the absence of a formal objection.
  • If all efforts at consensus have been exhausted, and no agreement has been reached, decisions of the Council may be adopted by a three-quarters majority vote of the Contracting Parties present and voting.
  • Notwithstanding paragraph 3, consensus shall be required for the following:
    • the establishment of permanent or ad hoc scientific groups and committees;
    • the appointment of an Executive Secretary;
    • the adoption of the annual budget of the Organization;
    • recommendations for amendment of this Convention;
    • the holding of any meeting of the Council other than the annual meeting;
    • other matters of substance that the Council may agree upon.

Article VIII : The Secretariat

The Council shall appoint an Executive Secretary on such terms and with such duties as it may determine. The staff of the Secretariat shall be appointed by the Executive Secretary in accordance with such rules, procedures, and requirements as may be determined by the Council.

Article IX : Financial Provisions

  • The Council shall adopt an annual budget for the Organization.
  • Each Contracting Party shall contribute to the annual budget. Contributions shall be paid in the currency of the state in which the Secretariat is located in accordance with the respective laws and regulations of each Contracting Party.
  • The Council shall consider at its annual meeting the failure of any Contracting Party to discharge its financial obligations under this Convention. A Contracting Party that fails to pay its contributions for two consecutive years shall not, during the period of its default, have the right to participate in the taking of decisions in the Council unless the Council decides otherwise.

Article X : Working and Official Language

The working and official language of the Council shall be English.

Article XI : Privileges and Immunities

  • The Organization shall enjoy such legal personality and capacity as may be agreed between the Organization and the Contracting Party in whose territory the Secretariat is located.
  • The Organization, its officers and employees, together with delegates to the Council, shall enjoy such privileges and immunities, necessary for the fulfillment of their functions, as may be agreed between the Organization and the Contracting Party in whose territory the Secretariat is located.

Article XII : No Prejudice to Existing Rights

  • Nothing in this Convention, nor activities of the Organization taking place pursuant to it, shall prejudice or in any way affect:
    • the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of a Contracting Party under international law over its territorial sea, 200 nautical mile zone, or continental shelf, including its jurisdiction over marine scientific research;
    • the rights of a Contracting Party to manage its national research programs;
    • other international agreements, bilateral or multilateral, to which Contracting Parties are party.
  • Nothing in this Convention shall be construed as authorizing the Organization to regulate the activities of the Contracting Parties.

Article XIII : Signature and Ratification, Acceptance or Approval

  • The Convention shall be open for signature at Ottawa, Canada, from March 1, 1991 until December 31, 1991 by Canada, the People's Republic of China, Japan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America.
  • The Convention shall be subject to ratification, acceptance or approval by the signatory states in accordance with their domestic laws and procedures. Instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval shall be deposited with the Government of Canada, which shall act as the Depository.

Article XIV : Entry into Force and Accession

  • The Convention shall enter into force sixty days after the date on which three of the signatory states have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the Depository.
  • After the Convention has entered into force, it shall be open for accession by any non-signatory state. States desiring to accede to the Convention may so notify the Depository which shall notify the Contracting Parties. In the absence of a written objection by a Contracting Party within 90 days of receipt of such notification, a state may accede by deposit of an instrument of accession with the Depository and accession shall take effect sixty days following deposit.

Article XV : Amendments

Any Contracting Party or the Council may propose amendments to this Convention. The text of a proposed amendment shall be transmitted to all Contracting Parties by the Depository at least 90 days prior to the meeting at which the amendment is proposed to be considered. Amendments shall enter into force sixty days after the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval by all of the Contracting Parties in accordance with their domestic laws and procedures.

Article XVI : Withdrawal

A Contracting Party may withdraw from this Convention at any time by giving written notice of withdrawal to the Depository. The withdrawal shall be effective six months after receipt of the notice of withdrawal by the Depository.

Article XVII : Termination

  • This Convention shall be terminated upon the withdrawal of three of the signatory states listed in Article XIII.
  • The effective date of termination shall be one year after the deposit with the Depository of the number of withdrawals required to terminate the Convention in accordance with paragraph 1 above.

Article XVIII : Authentic Texts and Certified Copies

The original of the present Convention in the English and French languages, each version being equally authentic, shall be deposited with the Depository, which shall transmit certified copies thereof to all of the signatory states.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, duly authorized by their respective Governments, have signed this Convention.

DONE in duplicate, at Ottawa, this 12th day of December, 1990, in the English and French languages, each version being equally authentic.