Blue Growth blog

Day one of a week dedicated to fisheries and aquaculture

FAO’s Atrium is transformed into a pleasing blue – filled with fisheries and aquaculture publications from FAO and its partners and posters highlighting key areas of work in fisheries and aquaculture work.
FAO’s Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva addressing the opening of the 32nd session on the Committee on Fisheries.

#COFI32 opens in Rome

The FAO Atrium was transformed into blue for the opening day of the 32nd session on FAO’s  Committee on Fisheries, meeting at FAO’s Rome Headquarters 11-15 July 2016.

On Monday morning, FAO’s Plenary Hall was full for the first day of sessions. 562 registered delegates  from 126 countries took part in COFI on its first day, including H.E. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, and 25 Ministers. Attendees also included 102 observers from intergovernmental organizations and 110 from non-governmental organizations.

FAO’s Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva welcomed delegates to the opening session of COFI, calling it  the only inter-governmental forum in which major international fisheries and aquaculture issues are examined. 

He reminded participants  of the key importance for fisheries and aquaculture in developing countries. “One in ten people depend upon fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods, and we shouldn’t forget that women are key to the 2030 Agenda in fisheries.”

Presenting Agenda item 4 “State of world fisheries and aquaculture and progress in the implementation of the code of conduct for responsible fisheries and related instruments”, Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department introduced SOFIA 2016 to delegates, noting that fisheries and aquaculture is key to livelihoods, good nutrition and proper growth and development for infants and young children. 

He welcomed findings in SOFIA that fish consumption for the first time reached 20 kg per capita. With preliminary estimates  for the value of  global fish trade at 135 billion USD for 2015, it is also an important motor for economic progress in developing countries.

According to Mathiesen, “In 1976, developing countries accounted for only 37% of fisheries trade by volume, whereas in 2014 developing countries supplied 60 % of the world’s fisheries trade.

This shows tremendous growth and demonstrates that a robust fisheries and aquaculture sector offers real opportunities for generating employment and bolstering livelihoods in developing countries, particularly as global demand for fish and fishery products is projected to increase.”

FAO Assistant Director-General of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Árni M. Mathiesen addresses the 32nd session of COFI about the health benefits of fish, recently recognized at the ICN2 Conference. Mathiesen welcomed findings in SOFIA that fish consumption for the first time reached 20 kg per capita.

Speaking about the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, Mathiesen said, “When I stood before you in this very room at COFI 31, I informed you about efforts to ensure the adherence of twenty-five parties to the 2009 Port State Measures Agreement.  My exact words to you back then were 'To date, only ten Members have become Party to the Agreement'.”

"Ladies and gentlemen, what a difference two years make. Today, I am proud to stand before you to report that Port State Measures entered into force as an international treaty on 5 June 2016.

This afternoon, FAO’s Director-General, who has led this effort, welcomes you all to the ceremony that will celebrate this momentous occasion, a key instrument that came about thanks to the enormous efforts of COFI and you, our Member countries.

Port State Measures  shows COFI at its best, and demonstrates exactly what can be achieved when the international community comes together to address our most challenging concerns.”

Afternoon sessions were interrupted for a special high-level event on the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.

At the event, a new film on Port State Measures was launched. 

You can watch the film here:


H.E. João Aguiar Machado, Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission delivers his address to Plenary and pledges EU support for the Port State Measures Agreement. The EU is signatory to the Agreement, on behalf of its 28 member states.

Speaking at the event, FAO’s Graziano da Silva said "Generations to come will recognize the importance of this achievement, your achievement," as he gave awards to representatives of the treaty's signatories.  “I hope that more and more countries will join FAO in this global effort and show their commitment to legal and sustainable fisheries.”

Speaking before the Plenary Hall, H.E. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea reminded participants that illegal fishing threatens not only global trade, but poses real threats to Africa’s food security and nutrition, which are severely affected by increasingly common IUU fishing occurring in African waters.

H.E. João Aguiar Machado, Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission spoke on behalf of the EU’s 28 member countries about the EU’s commitment to combating IUU fishing, and its early adherence to the Port State Measures and its work in encouraging other countries to become party to the Agreemnt. “Today is certainly a day to celebrate,” according to Aguiar Machado, “Nevertheless, this is only the beginning. Now the hard work begins.” Aguiar Machado also called upon countries to contribute to the Article 21 Trust Fund that will assist developing countries with the training nd capacity building in orer to comply with the obligations under the Port State Measures Agreement.
The thirty-four parties to the Agreement  received scrolls recognizing their status as parties to the Port State Measures Agreement.

Following the high-level event, COFI sessions went into the evening and ended with a cocktail on FAO’s rooftop terrace, and ideal end for a busy first day of COFI sessions.

Follow us all week via Twitter through @FAOfish and the hashtag #COFI32.

A new film on the Port State Measures Agreement is screened in Plenary during the ceremony.
Speaking at the High-level event, the FAO Director-General urges all member countries to become a party to the Port State Measures Agreement.
FAO’s Director-General awards the scroll of recognition as a party to the Port State Measures Agreement to H.E. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea
Representatives of the 34 parties to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement displaying their scrolls of recognition at the conclusion of the High-Level event ceremony in the Plenary during the first Day of COFI
Delegates at the Port State Measures High-Level event held on the first day of COFI
The scrolls presented to all parties to the Port State Measures Agreement
The Atrium display during #COFI32 addresses many issues and activities with which FAO works.

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