Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING STATEMENT

by

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

delivered at the

 Tweleveth INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition

Bangkok, Thailand
23 May 2012

 

Your Excellency, Theera Wongsamut, Honourable Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives, Government of Thailand
Your Excellency, Ahmed Shafeeu, Honourable Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Government of Maldives,
Dr Mohammed Ayub, Director of INFOFISH,
Mr In-Soo Cho, Chairman of the Conference,
Distinguished representatives of the co-organizers, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

It gives me a great pleasure to be invited this morning to make a few remarks at this important global event , which sees more than 600 stakeholders form the global tuna industry gathered here in Bangkok. On behalf of FAO, I wish to thank the organizers for the invitation, and wish to congratulate for the successful event.

Tuna fisheries and the tuna industry is one of the most valuable and globalized fisheries industries of the world. This extends, all supply chains  from capture operations on the high seas and in remote areas, primary processing, marketing, to the kitchens and dining tables in nearly every corner of the planet.

The Pacific Ocean yields 64 percent of the world’s tuna production, and the Indian Ocean shares 25 percent. Thus the Asia and Pacific region is an important player in this global business and trade, with much of the catch landed or processed in the region. This tuna catch is consisted from more than 58 percent skipjack tuna and over 30% yellowfin. Fishing methods are changing, with the catch by purse seiners increasing very rapidly to now forms the majority of the total yield. Longline fisheries are in decline although there is a significant rise in tuna fishing by coastal small-scale longlining operations..

In the later session, FAO colleagues will present the status of tuna resources in details and the future work in this respect. In summary, there is a need for strengthened management of the worlds tuna stocks so that they may be sustained and continue to provide high quality food and contribute to the economies of the countries which in some cases are so dependent upon Tuna industry.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Indeed, effective management, the fulfillment of obligations and commitments to UN Global agreements and regional management bodies and a dedication to increased responsibility in fishing operations are urgently needed if we are to continue to enjoy the right to fish and counter to the criticism that these fisheries cannot be managed effectively.

The FAO Committee on Fisheries, the foremost world forum where the countries of the world discuss global fisheries issues, has taken up agenda items direct relevance to these issues associated with tuna fisheries and tuna species worldwide.

The FAO International Plan of Action for Seabirds, Sharks management, combating IUU and management of fishing capacity offer a framework for the elaboration of national plans of action for addressing these issues and making fisheries more responsible. However, progress on the development of effective national plans of action has been variable so far.

Following an extended process of consultation and negotiation, the FAO Conference adopted resolution 12/2009 approving the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. The FAO conference urged Members to sign and ratify, accept, approve or accede to the Agreement as soon as possible, FAO is hopeful that this agreement will enter into force in 2013.

This agreement is an important tool in the fight against IUU fishing and in galvanizing global support to the work of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations. For this region in particular the Port State Measures Agreement will effectively link producing countries and processing countries in order to block the flow of illegal fish and profitability of IUU fishing.
More recently, the Committee on Fisheries endorsed the FAO International Guidelines for bycatch management and reduction of discards in 2011. This specifically relates to all forms of bycatch and discarding and offers guidance on the management of bycatch, something that the tuna industry is working hard to resolve.

Tuna fisheries span both national jurisdictions and the high sea, and consequently requires a multilateral approach. FAO is actively working with global and regional partners and the Global Environment Facility in developing a project for improving the management of tuna fisheries in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This $178 Million initiative will strive to achieve efficiency and sustainability in tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the areas beyond national jurisdiction through the application of an ecosystem approach and supporting the use of sustainable and efficient fisheries management and fishing practices, reducing IUU fishing, and mitigating adverse impacts of bycatch on biodiversity.

Additionally, FAO is implementing GEF regional tuna project that focuses on the Pacific Small island developing states. This $80 Million initiative is a partnership of UNDP, FAO, The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). It will support Pacific SIDS in meeting their obligations to implement and effectively enforce global, regional and sub-regional arrangements for the conservation and management of trans-boundary oceanic fisheries, thereby increasing sustainable benefits derived from these fisheries.

Distinguished participants,

In conclusion, these global and regional initiatives and the normative work of FAO and its member countries represent a significant investment by the partners to address problems associated with effective management in tuna fisheries. FAO believes that initiatives such as these and several others cannot be pursued in isolation from private sector and civil society stakeholders. Today’s gathering attended by a large number of private sectors and civil society organization is an evidence of strong will to attain our shared goal in concerted manner.

Finally, I wish to convey once again our sincere appreciation to the Government of Thailand, INFOFISH and co-organizers, for inviting FAO to this important gathering , and wish to assure you of FAO’s continued support to the Tuna fisheries and industry in close partnership.

Thank you.