Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome all of you to Bangkok and to thank you, on behalf of the Director-General of FAO for having kindly accepted to providing your expertise to this Expert consultation on international guidelines for the management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas.
This expert consultation has been organized to directly address the recommendations of international community as expressed by the twenty-seventh session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and through the Resolution 61/105 of the United Nations General Assembly on sustainable fisheries adopted in November 2006. The UNGA commended the FAO on its work regarding deep-sea fisheries in the high seas and suggested that FAO move forward on:
- enhancing data collection and dissemination,
- promoting information exchange and increased knowledge on deep sea fishing activities, such as through convening a meeting of States engaged in such fisheries,
- developing standards and criteria for use by States and regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements in identifying vulnerable marine ecosystems and the impacts of fishing on such ecosystems,
- and establishing standards for the management of deep sea fisheries, such as through the development of an international plan of action".
During the coming days we will jointly take the first steps towards addressing the establishment of standards and the development of International Guidelines. FAO Members present at the twenty-seventh session of COFI requested that FAO prepare technical guidelines in time to assist Regional Fisheries Management Organizations [RFMOs] in meeting their own deadlines for the development of measures to identify and protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
The technical guidelines will include "standards for management and criteria for identifying vulnerable marine ecosystems beyond areas under national jurisdiction and the impacts of fishing activities on such ecosystems, in order to facilitate the adoption and the implementation of conservation and management measures by RFMOs and flag States" as requested by COFI.
The output of the Expert consultation on deep-sea fisheries in the high seas that was held in Bangkok in November 2006 has been largely incorporated into the draft guidelines that will be discussed in this meeting. Work on the development of criteria for identifying vulnerable marine ecosystems and destructive fishing was also initiated through a workshop organized by FAO in June of this year. The results of that workshop have been made available to participants and have also served as a basis for the preparation of the draft guidelines.
While your present meeting looks at the development of the international guidelines for the management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas, a workshop on data and knowledge will be held in November this year to further add expertise to relevant sections dealing with monitoring and evaluation. Finally, another technical consultation will be held in February 2008 aiming at finalizing these international guidelines before their consideration by COFI in 2009.
Your tasks in the coming days will be to participate in and contribute to achieving the objective of this expert consultation, which is to thoroughly review and enhance the initial draft of the international guidelines. Your work at this consultation will ultimately contribute to the improved state of management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas which is being awaited by the international community with great anticipation.
I would like to thank you all for taking the time to assist FAO with this task and for providing your knowledge, wisdom and insights. I wish you a productive consultation in the coming days and look forward with interest to the results of your work.
For those of you who are not familiar with FAO rules and procedures, I should perhaps clarify your role in this expert consultation. Each of you is attending this meeting in your individual capacity, and not as a representative of your government or organization. In this line, there is no difference in status between those of you who work with government and those of you who work with a private or non-governmental entity; more importantly, all of you are encouraged to freely share your frank views and comments, as well as provide your intellectual input to the various subject matters identified for this consultation.
I finally wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of FAO, to thank the governments of Japan and Iceland for their support to this important work, including their generous funding support for convening this Expert Consultation.
Once again, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for your attention.