Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING REMARKS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Project Inception Workshop
Strategies for Trawl Fisheries Bycatch Management (REBYC-II CTI)

Bangkok, Thailand
1 May 2012

 

Dr. Chumnarn Pongsri, Secretary General of the  Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre,
Country Representatives,

National REBYC II Coordinators,

Representatives from competent regional stakeholder organizations and bodies operating, FAO colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and on my own behalf, I welcome you all to Bangkok for this Inception Workshop of the “Strategies for trawl fisheries bycatch management” (REBYC-II CTI) project

The Coral Triangle region of Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most biologically diverse, economically productive and potentially vulnerable marine zones. As a result of increasing populations and exploitation pressures, growing threats from pollution and major ecosystem change are a particular concern in the region. Also – as more widely in the global context – the untargeted capture of fish and non-fish species, commonly called bycatch and discards, is an increasing concern. This part of the catch tends to be poorly monitored and not managed but could have an important impact on fishery resources, habitats and ecosystems.

To address these threats, and in order to initiate efforts to   improve the responsibility of  trawl fisheries in the participating countries, the REBYC-II CTI project intends to focus on multispecies bottom trawling, where bycatch issues are amongst the most serious, with potentially significant effects on ecosystems and livelihoods. The Project aims to address these challenges by promoting sustainable fishing practices and improved trawl management.

The REBYC-II CTI project was developed under the leadership of FAO in close collaboration with its partners: Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and the governments of the participating countries Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. This project is based on the successes of the 2002-2008 FAO/UNEP/GEF global project “Reduction of Environmental Impact from Tropical Shrimp Trawling through the Introduction of Bycatch Reduction Technologies and Change of Management”.  The project also   benefits from the active collaboration with private sector partners and relevant national, regional and international organizations which were also involved in the Project formulation process. The Project is funded jointly by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the implementing and executing partners. The Project duration is four years and a total budget is about USD 11 million.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Improving the management of   fisheries in  this region is  a most complex and challenging task. It involves both technical and practical economic considerations linking to longer term visions of  environmental sustainability and capacity building in fishery management.  Despite this seemingly enormous task, I am very optimistic about achieving the outcomes of this project and believe this is because of the following strengths:

The Asian region is one of the   greatest producers and consumers of   fisheries products in the world, and whilst this places great pressures on the resource base, it is now increasingly recognized within the region that   it is  time to start to manage these resources sustainably and in the interests of   future generations. I think we will be successful because there is now growing global awareness of the critical need for strengthened management of fishery  resources, as evidenced by the   strong focus on the oceans  at the forthcoming  Rio+20  conference and   the increasing inclusion of   fisheries issue in global   agendas on sustainability and  natural resource management. The recent   ASEAN-SEAFEC resolution, and recommendations from a variety of  regional  for a relevant to fishery have clearly  indicated the need for strengthening fishery management.

The need for applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, in fact to all natural resources management, is now globally accepted. The ecosystem approach represents a move away from management systems that focus only on the harvest of a target species to taking a more holistic approach that considers the well-being of the biological and physical environment together with human and social well-being within improved governance frameworks.

Responsible management requires both innovation and   practical considerations,  gear and management measures alone cannot  change   fishing  behavior. Trade-offs between economic viability, resource conservation and human needs are inevitable in this complex natural resource system and the use of ecosystem based approaches to   understanding the challenge will provide the  key  to practical and mutually acceptable ways for  the management of   bycatch within  trawl fisheries. To do this,  the project design incorporates capacity building , practical pilot work and  linkages to  private sector initiatives.
 
I believe the project will be successful because of the substantial commitment in terms of finance and resources the countries have made to the project and the strong lead which will be provided by SEAFDEC as a competent regional fishery organization.  The project will draw on the considerable expertise and experience that exists in the many and varied regional bodies and organizations that operate in the area, as well as the opportunity to develop good working practices with  private sector operators.

The FAO Regional Office has a long history of cooperation with SEAFDEC and this project  project will benefit from both FAO and SEAFDEC’s  technical expertise in areas of capacity building, fisheries and resource management. I am also sure that the  FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, its associated technical and best practice guidelines, on by-catch and ecosystem approach to fisheries management, will also provide a strong normative basis for this  project.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish to stress that your main task during the workshop is to review and reconfirm that the proposed project activities and look forward to how each country and   cooperating organizations will prepare an action plan to focus on its role in the project.
I would like to thank you in advance for the work you are about to undertake over the next four days, and I am confident that your professionalism,  knowledge and expertise will ensure that the project commences with a strong start in both its regional and national activities,  and through these that the region can claim to have made a real impact in developing responsible management of trawl fisheries to reduce bycatch.

I wish you well in your endeavors.

Thank you.