Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission

Regional guidelines for the management of tropical trawl fisheries in Asia

Category Regional Best Practices

FAO (2014) APFIC/FAO Regional Expert Workshop on “Regional guidelines for the management of tropical trawl fisheries in Asia”. Phuket, Thailand, 30 September–4 October 2013. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. RAP Publication 2014/01, 91 pp. 

The challenge of effective fishery management is more critical than ever, now that the Asian region is passing from four decades of expansion and increased production to an era of overcapacity, overexploitation and unsustainable practice. Although there is great variety in fishing methods and in the status of capture fisheries resources in the region, many of the key coastal fisheries of the region are facing the aforementioned problems. Acknowledging this situation, the Fourth Regional Consultative Forum Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) identified the need for more effective management of the tropical trawl sector that balances the demand for fish for human consumption and for aquaculture feeds with the need to sustain ecosystem functions in the marine fishery and improve capture fishery quality.

Improving the management of tropical trawl fisheries in the APFIC region requires actions across a range of issues using an approach that is appropriate to the social, economic and governance contexts of the APFIC member countries. These complex considerations can best be addressed by applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission strongly highlighted these issues at its Thirty-second Session and agreed to use trawl fisheries as a model through which to directly address the management of trawling and indirectly to build capacity in fishery and ecosystem management approaches with the APFIC member countries in Asia.

The APFIC regional guidelines for the management of tropical trawl fisheries in Asia were developed through an APFIC expert workshop process that placed FAO global best practice in the Asian regional context. The guidelines cover spatial management, improved assessment of fisheries, innovative gear approaches and, importantly, how multigear, multispecies fisheries can be managed in way that yields catch from multiple trophic levels and segments of the fishery.

These guidelines are targeted primarily at fishery departments and those institutions that are tasked with fishery management at subnational levels. The guidelines are expected to provide concrete advice on options that are available to address typical issues facing tropical trawl fisheries in the region and perhaps elsewhere. A second purpose of the guidelines is to increase understanding of the issues of tropical trawl fisheries and the ways that they can be managed. It is intended that other stakeholders in the fishery and market chain will better understand how management processes can be supported and implemented. This improved understanding will enable stakeholders to engage more effectively with fishers and fishery managers in addressing their particular concerns about fishery management, resource use and sustainability.

These guidelines are a practical and usable product that can support the development of management plans for tropical trawl fisheries in Asia. They should also provide an effective basis for the greater engagement of relevant actors in strengthening and improving the management of the tropical trawl sector in the APFIC region.