Distinguished regional experts and FAO colleagues,
On behalf of the Regional Representative of FAO for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, it is with great pleasures that I welcome you here today to the opening of this APFIC Regional Expert Workshop on Tropical Trawl Fishery Management here in Phuket.
The issue of fishery management has never been more critical in Asia’s history, as we pass from the era of expansion and increased production, to one of over capacity, over-exploitation and unsustainable practice. It is taking time to adjust and the introduction of fishery management is never an easy path.
Whilst there is a great variety in fishing method and the status of capture fisheries in the APFIC region, it is fair to say that some of the key coastal fisheries of the region are facing these problems.
The 4th Regional Consultative Forum Meeting of APFIC suggested that the Asia Pacific region should develop a regional vision for more effective management of the trawl sector. This regional vision, would seek to balance the demand for fish for human consumption (e.g. fresh/frozen and surimi) and feeds for aquaculture, with the need to sustain ecosystem functions in the marine fishery and improve capture fishery quality.
This was picked up by the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission, which at it 32nd Session, strongly highlighted these issues which are particularly associated with trawl fisheries in the region.
The Commission agreed to take 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.
Improving the management of tropical trawl fisheries in the APFIC region will require a basket of approaches, that are appropriate to the social, economic and governance contexts of the APFIC member countries. These complex considerations can be addressed by applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries.
In developing guidelines for the management of tropical trawl fisheries, there are various tools available which could be applied in the APFIC region. However, they may not be particularly effective in the unique situation of many Asian trawl fisheries.
This workshop will draw on the regional knowledge and experience of the experts invited to this workshop, to attempt to develop a comprehensive guide to workable approaches for the region.
The guidelines which will be developed, will need to cover spatial management, better assessment of fisheries, innovative gear approaches and, importantly, how multi-gear multi-species 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 which are tasked with fishery management in the decentralized national levels. The guidelines are expected to provide concrete advice on options that are available to address typical issues concerning tropical trawl fisheries in developing countries.
A second purpose of the guidelines is to increase understanding to the issues of tropical trawl fisheries and the ways that they can be managed. It is intended to that other stakeholders in the fishery and market chain will better understand how management processes can be supported and implemented. This great understanding, will enable stakeholders to engage more effectively with fishers and fishery managers in addressing their particular concerns regarding fishery management, resource use and sustainability.
This APFIC ad hoc Expert Working Group on Tropical Trawl Fishery Management is tasked to deliver a set of guidelines which will be relevant and usable by the member countries and the Commission for the management of trawl fisheries in the tropical regions of the APFIC areas.
It is expected that these will be presented to the next Session of the Commission for its deliberation and possible endorsement, along with recommendations on how members could consider their implementation.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Department of Fisheries, Thailand for their generous offer to host this workshop and for facilitating the local arrangements, as well as their hospitality.
It is my strong expectation that this expert workshop will deliver a practical and usable product for the consideration of the commission and which will serve as an effective platform for the greater engagement of relevant actors in strengthening and improving the fishery management of the tropical trawl sector in the APFIC region.
I wish you good luck with your deliberations and hope that you have an enjoyable stay in Thailand.