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FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission is committed to acting as a regional consultative forum, providing member countries, regional organizations and fisheries professionals in the region with the opportunity to review and discuss the challenges facing the region's fisheries sector and helping them decide on the most appropriate actions to take.

Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC)

The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) was founded in 1948 to promote the full and proper use of living aquatic resources in the region from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The Commission assists member countries to achieve their objectives by helping with the development and management of fishing and culture operations, processing and marketing. APFIC works to improve understanding, awareness and cooperation concerning fisheries issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Twenty-one countries are now members of the Commission, which maintains its Secretariat at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand.

Member countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America and Viet Nam.

The state of fisheries in Asia and the Pacific: challenges and opportunities

The Asia-Pacific region is the world's largest producer of fish. By weight, more than 50 percent of the world's catch of marine and river fish and 89 percent of global aquaculture comes from the Asia-Pacific region. Eight of the top ten aquaculture producing countries in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region and inland fisheries in the region account for 68 percent of total world inland fishery production.

The fisheries and aquaculture sectors are important contributors to the food security, livelihoods and income of rural and coastal populations. About 90 percent of fishers and fish farmers in the region are small scale, highlighting the impact of the sector at the local scale.

Ninety-three percent of people employed in aquaculture and fisheries worldwide are located in Asia. These sectors and associated downstream services and industries employ approximately 10 percent of the world's working population. The fishing fleets of Asia number more than three million fishing vessels with more than two million operating in the South China Sea and Bay of Bengal alone. The majority of these craft are small scale and a significant proportion of them are un-motorized.

A number of issues pose threats to the health and future of fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region. Overfishing and unsustainable production practices are negatively affecting economic efficiency and product quality. Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing reduces the economic benefits from fisheries and undermines fishery management. Weak management of aquaculture development and intensification is also generating potential problems for the future. On top of these challenges, climate variability is affecting freshwater and marine ecosystems with impacts already apparent in the form of increased flooding, coastal storms, drought and temperature rise.

What AFPIC does in the region

Promoting an ecosystem approach

Fisheries and marine resources do not exist in isolation. To best sustain and conserve them APFIC promotes an ecosystem approach to fishery management. The Commission is working with partners to develop regional training courses in the ecosystem approach so that those responsible for managing fisheries and marine resources may do so more holistically, reduce user group conflicts, help unlock financial resources, work cooperatively with other stakeholders and better resolve fisheries issues and challenges.

Sustainable intensification of aquaculture

The Commission recognizes the opportunities presented by aquaculture in the region, but also the challenges from the increasing intensification of aquaculture production. Working on advisory material, regional consensus building and the development of management tools that are tailored to the needs of the region has now become a core part of the biennial programme.

Policy development and capacity building

APFIC channels needed information to policy-makers about aquatic resources and aquaculture and the need for effective resource management. The Commission raises awareness among policy-makers about the role and potential that sound fishery and aquaculture policies can have in poverty alleviation, rural development, economic advancement and environmental protection.

The Commission builds the capacities of those setting policies and managing fisheries in member countries through training courses, seminars, workshops and publications. The courses, involving regional experts, deal with a range of issues from ecosystem management, to port inspection training, to trawler management and developing best practices in aquaculture management.

Analysis and consensus building on critical issues

Through its links to regional organizations, academic institutions and networks of experts in a wide variety of subjects and disciplines, APFIC provides analysis and a forum for discussion on the critical issues policy-makers in the region are facing in the field of fisheries and aquatic resource management. Research and analysis coordinated by the Commission has covered topics such as combatting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, climate change and its effects on fisheries and aquaculture, livelihood development and support, regional and national policies, and aquaculture management and planning tools.