Global code for sustainable fishing turns 10
FAO calls for renewed efforts to improve fisheries management on 10th anniversary of code's adoption
31 October 2005, Rome - A growing number of countries are applying FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries at the national level, the UN agency said today on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Code's adoption.
Drafted by 170 nations during discussions brokered by FAO and adopted on 31 October 1995, the Code contains a series of policy principles, technical guidelines and best practices for conducting fishing and aquaculture in a responsible and sustainable way.
The Code is nonbinding, but by endorsing it governments commit themselves to operating according to its principles and standards. FAO's role is to promote the implementation of the Code by providing guidance and technical assistance to countries and to monitor such implementation.
FAO championed the Code's creation in the early 1990s after observing trends indicating that many of the world's fisheries were approaching maximum production levels, with increasing occurrences of overfishing and related conflicts.
"The idea was to create an instrument that would enable the international community, working both individually and collectively, to make the fisheries and aquaculture sector a more rational, responsibly managed, and sustainable food production sector, so that the millions of people who depend on fish for food and income can continue to do so, indefinitely," explained Ichiro Nomura, FAO's Assistant Director-General for Fisheries. Many governments have already turned parts of the Code into mandatory provisions under their own laws, Nomura said.
Setting a global standard
According to FAO analysis, over the past 10 years nearly 22 percent of FAO members have managed to bring their national policies and laws into complete conformity with the Code, while 26 percent indicate they are taking steps that will bring them into complete conformity and another 43.5 percent have at least partially adopted the Code's tenets.
Particularly encouraging, say fisheries experts at FAO, is the fact that 70 percent of its members are now using "vessel monitoring systems" to track fishing activities in their jurisdiction, as recommended by the Code.
This entails putting sensing units on boats which transmit data on their location and activities, helping to strengthen fisheries management and acting as a deterrent to illegal fishing activities and poaching.
More to do
Still, the pace of Code implementation varies from place to place, FAO cautions, noting that the main challenges countries face typically relate to limited financial resources and technical capacities.
FAO is helping meet this challenge through its FishCode Programme, which targets technical assistance to developing countries to help them implement the Code.
"The creation of the Code and its supporting plans of action and the subsequent adoption by countries of the measures and practices it outlines are crucial accomplishments," said Nomura. "But the momentum needs to be sustained, and FAO urges countries to continue -- and strengthen -- their efforts to implement the Code over the next decade."
Information Officer, FAO
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