Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to each and all of you on the occasion of the opening of the Regional Workshop on Port State Measures to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing - jointly organized by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission (APFIC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is indeed honoured and pleased to be part of this forum aimed at considering options for cooperative action in the subregion.
Seven years ago, FAO members adopted in the 2001 International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU). As a result of consequent consultations convened by FAO between 2002 and 2004, the Model Scheme on Port State Measures to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was endorsed by the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 2005, urging countries to give priority to the operationalization of the model scheme.
Since then, the international community has intensified its resolve to strengthen port state measures even further. Over the past two years there have been repeated calls in international fora for a binding international instrument on port state measures, to be developed and based on the Plan of Action and the Model Scheme. As a result, the 2007 Twenty-seventh Session of COFI established a process that is likely to result in the development of such an instrument. To this end, an Expert Consultation to Draft a Legally-binding Instrument on Port State Measures was held in the USA from 4 to 8 September 2007, and a Technical Consultation to review the draft Agreement will take place in June, 2008. The next Session of COFI, in 2009, will review the outcome.
We are now on the threshold of a new era in addressing IUU fishing through the key compliance tool of port state measures. They are widely regarded to be one of the most cost-effective means of combating IUU fishing, and their value is well understood in allowing swift and certain action to be taken. They embrace a range of requirements, including vessel reporting prior to entry into port, in-port inspections, complementary actions by flag states, reports on inspections, information exchange and human capacity development. Action taken as a result of port state measures target the profitability of IUU fishing, gained through what is now widely recognized as ‘environmental crime’. Action to combat this can include the denial of port access, landing, transhipment, trade, export and resupply.
In addition, port state measures are fundamental to the effective use of a wide range of other tools employed at national and regional levels to combat IUU fishing. These tools include IUU and authorized vessel lists, vessel monitoring systems and the implementation of internationally agreed market-related measures.
As a result, a growing number of countries, mindful of the value of port state measures and the need for their harmonization, are developing, or have adopted through regional fishery bodies (RFBs), strengthened measures and regional schemes. Human capacity development programmes often accompany these important actions. Such regional cooperation and coordination will assist greatly in reinforcing national efforts and deterring the operation of “ports of non-compliance”, where countries are unable or unwilling to apply effective port state measures. However, in a region such as ours, without the benefit of comprehensive coverage by regional fisheries management organizations, a creative approach will have to be developed to achieve the needed cooperation and coordination.
In response to mounting international attention to the essential role of port state measures in combating IUU fishing, FAO has mounted a series of regional workshops to develop national capacity and promote regional coordination. As a result of these initiatives it is expected that countries will be better placed to strengthen and harmonize their port state measures. In addition, we anticipate that countries will be able to meet the requirements of relevant RFBs and implement the necessary IPOA-IUU tools and the FAO Model Scheme.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is the fifth in a series of regional workshops on port state measures in which FAO has been involved. We acknowledge with gratitude the many organizations and governments that support this important series of workshops, including our partners in the delivery of this present workshop, APFIC and SEAFDEC. Special recognition and gratitude is also extended to the donors that are supporting this workshop. In FAO, extra budgetary financing has been provided by the governments of Norway and Sweden.
The considerable scope of interest and support received to date reflects a broad-based appreciation of the potential impact of strengthened and harmonized port state measures in combating IUU fishing activities.
[Twenty-four] participants from [ten] countries in the Southeast Asian region are attending this five day workshop, and have the opportunity to interact with international and regional experts during discussion periods. The participants will form working groups to consider the development of regional standards for port state measures based on the FAO Model Scheme, and, based on prevailing circumstances in the region and use of complementary compliance tools, recommend measures that can best implement port state controls in the Southeast Asian region.
The workshop also affords a valuable opportunity to discuss issues that may eventually be considered in the context of a binding international instrument on port state measures. I am thus anticipating outcomes of a very high standard.
Bringing this workshop to fruition has been a true team effort. I wish to extend my thanks to those in SEAFDEC, APFIC and FAO who have worked together to ensure that enduring outcomes will be achieved for the benefit of all.
I wish you all a full and very productive workshop.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for your attention.
I hereby declare the workshop open.