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