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Working Groups

Three Working Groups were tasked with developing a call to action and recommendations on steps to implement the actions, in the context of managing fishing capacity and IUU fishing.

The Working Groups each covered one of the following topics:

  1. Capacity management;
  2. IUU fishing; and
  3. Information needs.

Each Working Group was allocated a facilitator and given instructions and preliminary inputs. Each Group was asked to one representative to report back to plenary. Working Group outputs were then used to develop the workshop call for action and next steps. To assist the Working Groups, action items included in the Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) for Responsible Fishing were provided as a starting point of the Group's discussions. The Working Groups were then asked to:

  1. Considers the list of actions derived from the RPOA and add any further actions it considered relevant.
  2. Prioritise the actions in the list so that the most important is listed first, and so on.
  3. Starting with the highest 5 priority actions and discuss and develop plans based on:
    1. How to implement the action item (How)
    2. When it should be done (When)
    3. Who should be involved (Who)

Working Group 1 – Capacity Management

Working Group 1 prioritised the RPOA action items through a system of voting. Each participant was asked to select five items and score them from 1 to 5, lowest to highest. The scores for each item were summed across participants and the top five of these selected for the Working Group discussion. The final ranking, along with implementation steps are included in Annex VIa.

The five top ranked items in order of priority were:

  1. Countries should assess the status of their fishery resources and fishing fleet capacity.
  2. Countries should undertake planning to reduce overcapacity without shifting that capacity to other fisheries whose resources may be already fished at the maximum sustainable rate or above that rate, taking into consideration potential socio-economic impacts.
  3. Countries should undertake to develop and implement national plans of action to accelerate their efforts to manage fishing capacity.
  4. Countries should introduce management measures to help prevent fishing capacity from exceeding levels that result in harvest rates that impede the ability of fish stocks to reproduce sustainably over the longer term.
  5. Countries should encourage relevant regional organizations to provide assistance in technical support and development of guidelines for conservation and fisheries management, capacity building, sharing data and information on fisheries and trade, and strengthening networking for the purpose of enhancing participation and ensuring implementation of conservation and management measures in the region.

Some additional issues discussed were:

Working Group 2 – IUU fishing

Before prioritising the action items Working Group 2 discussed the distinction between IUU fishing at national levels and IUU fishing at regional levels. They also discussed how national priorities and differing regulations impact on the definition of IUU fishing. Because the problem of IUU fishing in Asia is mainly with large-scale fisheries, the group decided to focus on this sub-sector in prioritising actions. They also noted that small-scale fisheries are national responsibilities, and often influenced by other political objectives. They concluded that if national governments can solve the IUU fishing issues for small-scale fisheries, then they should be left to do so.

There was also extensive discussion on the importance of the responsibility of flag states for their vessels that fish illegally with some views distinguishing between the responsibilities for vessels fishing in other EEZs and on the high seas.

The group then prioritised the 13 actions extracted from the RPOA and added the proviso that nothing included in the planned actions is designed to pre-empt any discussions or actions decided upon in the follow-up meetings for the adoption of the RPOA. The final ranking, along with implementation steps are included in Annex VIb.

  1. All coastal States, relevant flag States and fishing entities operating in the region should actively cooperate in ensuring that fishing vessels entitled to fly their flags do not undermine the effectiveness of conservation and management measures, including engagement in or supporting illegal fishing.
  2. Countries should consider adopting Port State Measures, where appropriate, based on the FAO 'Model Scheme on Port State Measures to Combat IUU Fishing5.
  3. Countries should establish control measures such as vessel registers, mandatory notification of the intention to transship and the application of vessel monitoring systems.
  4. Countries should undertake to develop and implement national plans of action to accelerate their efforts to reduce overcapacity and eliminate illegal fishing activity where these issues are known to occur;
  5. Countries should develop a regional MCS network to promote the sharing of information and to coordinate regional activities to support the promotion of responsible fishing practices.

Working Group 3 – Information needs

The Working Group focused on the action items extracted from the RPOA that related to information needs. To facilitate prioritization, it first grouped the items under 4 main headings:

The Group also agreed that it would not attempt to consider the implementation of the information for managing fishing capacity and IUU fishing as that was being considered by the other Working Groups.

The Group then used a process of individual prioritization, which was then aggregated into a Group consensus on 5 items. All of the priority items were chosen from the categories of "enabling environment" and "collecting and managing data", which reflected the current lack of data and information and the need to collect it to inform the management of fishing capacity and IUU fishing. It was also decided that some items were repetitive and better grouped under more general action items. These five priority actions are outlined below. The final ranking, along with implementation steps are included in Annex VIc.

  1. Assess the status of fishery resources and fishing fleet capacity
  2. Strengthen MCS systems, especially monitoring of vessels
  3. Engage regional organizations to assist
  4. Work together to improve & standardize data
  5. Collect & share information on management & capacity reduction

The results of the three Working Groups were further synthesized in the final conclusions and call for action.

5 Noting recent developments in the FAO to negotiate a binding international agreement on Port State Measures, the Parties to the RPOA agreed to consider the provision of the FAO document once it is completed.

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