1. The Expert Consultation on the proposed Sub-Committee on Aquaculture of the Committee on Fisheries was held in the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, on 28-29 February 2000. The Consultation was attended by 30 participants (Appendix B).
2. The Consultation was welcomed by Mr. Veravat Hongskul, Senior Fishery Officer for FAO in Asia-Pacific, and opened by Mr. Dong Quinsong, Deputy Regional Representative and Officer-in-Charge of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Jiansan Jia, Chief of the Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service, Fisheries Department, FAO, provided an introduction on the purpose and background of the Consultation.
3. The Agenda adopted by the Expert Consultation is attached as Appendix A. The documents which were presented at the Expert Consultation are shown in Appendix C.
4. Mr. Glenn Hurry was unanimously elected Chairperson of the Consultation, and Mr. Yugraj Singh Yadava was unanimously elected as Vice-Chairperson.
5. The Expert Consultation also elected a Drafting Committee consisting of Mr. Uwe Barg, Mr. Devin Bartley, Mr. Tim Carey, Mr. Vincent Sagua, and Mr. Yugraj Singh Yadava.
6. The importance of aquaculture1, its development and its growing social and economic benefits and contributions, in particular to total fishery landings and supply of fish as food for human consumption, have been increasingly recognized during the last decade. Aquaculture has expanded to one of the fastest growing food production sectors, continuously exceeding annual peaks in global production and value, with production levels reaching 39.4 million metric tonnes and with a total value of USD 52.5 billion in 1998. Aquaculture contributed 31.1% of total global fishery production in 1998. Developing countries produce about 90% of total global aquaculture output for both domestic consumption and export. Low income food deficit countries account for over 80% of global aquaculture production. Aquaculture production has increased more rapidly in developing countries than in industrialized countries. The FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries held in Rome, 10 - 11 March 1999, "...recognized the growing importance of environmentally sound aquaculture as a source of fish supplies for human consumption and attached high priority to ensuring the contribution of sustainable aquaculture to food security, income and rural development". The Bangkok Declaration that was developed during the NACA/FAO Conference on "Aquaculture in the Third Millenium Conference" held in Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000, confirmed the importance of aquaculture and identified trends and issues, and declared support for a strategy for aquaculture development beyond 2000 (see Appendix F).
7. At the 22nd Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) held in Rome at FAO Headquarters from 17 to 20 March 1997, the importance of aquaculture as a major provider of food and income for the member countries was emphasized. During the discussion of the major issues in world fisheries, COFI underlined the valuable potential of aquaculture in meeting the expected increased demand for aquatic products. In the discussion of the implementation of the FAO Programme of Work and Budget 1996/1997, the Medium-Term Plan for 1998/2003 and the proposed Programme of Work and Budget 1998/99, the mandate of FAO for fisheries and aquaculture and its leading role as a specialized agency within the UN system was reaffirmed. COFI recalled the increasing contribution made by aquaculture to food security, employment and income of rural populations and, as a consequence, called for special attention to be given to the sustainable development of aquaculture, inland fisheries enhancements and culture-based fisheries.
8. The report of the 22nd Session of COFI stated: "Given the increasing importance of aquaculture as a means of providing employment and contributing to food security, the Chinese delegation proposed that a Sub-Committee on Aquaculture be established under the Committees auspices. Due to budgetary constraints and other factors, some delegations questioned whether such a sub-committee was needed to be established or if the work could be accomplished by the Committee. A number of delegations supported the Chinese proposal. The Chinese delegation expressed the willingness of its Government to assist FAO in organizing an Expert Consultation in order to work out a concrete programme for consideration by the Committee at its 23rd Session. It was recognized that extra-budgetary funds would be required for such a consultation."
9. As stated in the report of its 23rd Session, COFI "agreed that sustainable aquaculture could have high potential in securing food availability and poverty alleviation in developing countries. There was broad support in the Committee to the proposal to establish a COFI Sub-Committee on aquaculture. Noting that extra-budgetary funds for such a body had not yet been identified, suggestion was made that consideration be given to funding such a sub-committee from Regular Programme resources. The Committee agreed that the above priorities should be reflected in the Programme of Work and Budget 2000-2001".
10. Funding for the Expert Consultation on the Sub-Committee was requested under the "real growth" budgetary option presented to the Conference but this option was not agreed on. As a consequence, and in order to reduce the cost to FAO while ensuring broad participation, it was considered opportune to hold the Expert Consultation in conjunction with the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, organized by the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia and the Pacific (NACA), in cooperation with FAO and hosted by the Government of Thailand, on 20-25 February 2000 in Bangkok, Thailand.
11. The objectives of the Expert Consultation were:
12. The establishment of an intergovernmental statutory body dealing specifically with aquaculture, has been proposed by a number of delegations to the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI).
13. Therefore, the Expert Consultation concurred:
14. The Expert Consultation confirmed that a global intergovernmental mechanism is needed that can provide the opportunity for information exchange, discussion and consensus-building among various parties interested in global aquaculture development and provide means to advise and guide COFI and FAO. The Expert Consultation confirmed that the growing importance of the subject and its interactions justified a specific focus.
15. In addition, as a result of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium and discussions of the resulting "Bangkok Declaration on Aquaculture", there are issues relevant to aquaculture development that must be addressed on a global scale and by an intergovernmental body. The group reviewed existing mechanisms and instruments and concluded that, worldwide, there is no intergovernmental global forum having sustainable aquaculture development as a primary and exclusive focus and target, with a principal and comprehensive mandate for discussion, decision and agreement on technical and policy matters, nor is there the apparent potential for such a forum elsewhere.
16. The Expert Consultation noted the statement of the 1999 Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries, " FAO is the most appropriate forum for addressing vital global fisheries issues and accordingly call on the Organization to assign higher priority and increased share of FAO's Regular Programme resources to its fisheries programme activities". The Expert Consultation considered that FAO provides the best mechanism for meeting these needs in that FAO:
17. The subsidiary and statutory bodies of FAO are valuable fora to aid Members in implementation of the FAO Medium-Term Strategy. However, the creation of new bodies within FAO must be undertaken carefully to ensure efficacy and efficiency. The Expert Consultation concluded that the establishment of a Sub-Committee would be in line with Conference Resolution 13/97 "Review of FAO Statutory Bodies" which states that the following factors should be taken into account in establishing new technical bodies and subsidiary bodies:
a) Centrality to the FAO mandate and the Organization's current priorities as expressed by FAO Members and reflected in planning documents.
b) Clarity of the definition of the task, which should normally be of limited duration.
c) Positive impact of the Body's work at the level of FAO Members.
d) FAO's comparative advantage, thereby avoiding overlap and creating synergy with the work of other Bodies.
e) Proportion of the FAO Membership to which the work of the proposed body is of importance with due regard to the economic capacity of less-advantaged members, including least developed countries and small-island developing states.
f) Willingness of their Members to contribute financially and through non-monetary inputs to the work of the Body, especially where the Body will serve a more limited number of countries, with due regard to the economic capacity of their less advantaged members and the availability of other financial mechanisms.
18. In light of the above considerations the Expert Consultation concluded that the formation of a Sub-Committee was justified and that terms of reference, an overview of relevant issues to be addressed, and possible elements for future programme of activities for the Sub-Committee be drafted for consideration by the next meeting of COFI.
19. The Expert Consultation discussed and formulated the following Terms of Reference for the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture:
20. The principal functions of the Sub-Committee are twofold:
a) to advise COFI on technical and policy matters related to aquaculture, and
b) to advise COFI and FAO as to the work to be performed by the Organization in the subject matter field of aquaculture.
21. Specifically the Sub-Committee would:
a) identify and discuss major issues and trends in global aquaculture development;
b) determine those issues and trends of international importance requiring actions to increase the sustainable contribution of aquaculture to food security, economic development, and poverty alleviation in FAO member countries;
c) recommend and/or agree on international action to address aquaculture development needs;
- advise on mechanisms to prepare, to facilitate and to implement action programmes identified, as well as on the possible/expected contributions of partners;
- to liaise with other relevant groups and organizations with a view to promote harmonization and to endorse policies and actions, as appropriate;
- in particular, strengthen international collaboration to assist developing countries in the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
d) request and/or promote the preparation of technical reviews and elaboration of issues and trends of international importance for example, on agreements on international norms and standards on food safety and quality, biotechnology and biosafety, environment, use of inputs, production practices, and product labelling.
e) address specific matters relating to aquaculture referred to it by COFI or the Director-General, FAO.
22. The venue and frequency of meetings should be cost-effective and take advantage of existing facilities and existing mechanisms where possible. In order for timely input of material from the sub-committee to COFI, meetings should be held biennially and approximately 6 months prior to COFI.
23. In line with Conference Resolution 13/97, COFI is invited to consider a schedule for the timely review of the usefulness of Sub-Committee.
24. The Rules of Procedures of the Sub-Committee would be, mutatis mutandis, those of the parent body, COFI (see Appendix D for COFI Rules of Procedures). The Consultation recognized that there may well be significant benefits associated with the participation in the proposed Sub-Committee of international governmental as well as non-governmental organizations, representing views of the private sector, interests of social and environmental advocacy organizations, and other stakeholders, in accordance with regular procedures and practices. Participation of established FAO partners and regional networks should be encouraged where the sub-committee feels that they bring relevant information to the discussions.
25. The Expert Consultation reviewed key issues in aquaculture development which are of global, inter-regional, and international importance, to be taken up by the Sub-Committee. Issues addressed by the Sub-Committee should have one or more of the following characters:
26. In selecting and prioritizing the major issues and key areas of international concern, the Expert Consultation emphasized the critical importance of addressing issues of food security and poverty alleviation at local, national, regional and global levels. The role of aquaculture for enhancing food security and economic development in FAO Member nations to alleviating poverty was therefore considered a primary priority. The Expert Consultation identified six key areas to be addressed by the Sub-Committee. The six priority areas are:
27. More specific topics under these general areas are listed in Appendix E.
28. The Expert Consultation recognized that aquaculture is an extremely dynamic sector and that priorities may change and new issues may arise. The Sub-Committee should be able to respond to such changes as the need arises and amend the above list of priority areas and the general items in Appendix E. Recognizing that other groups and institutions may also take up these issues, the sub-committee should complement such efforts as appropriate.
29. A more detailed presentation of the above issues is presented in the Bangkok Declaration and Strategy (Appendix F).
30. The Expert Consultation discussed possible contributions that the Sub-Committee could make to sustainable aquaculture development and identified three specific areas as warranting higher priority because of their potential impact and their links with on-going activities of FAO:
31. The Expert Consultation felt that these three activities could be considered as elements of the provisional agenda for the first meeting of the Sub-Committee. Also included in the agenda of the first meeting would be the identification of appropriate follow-up activities in regard to the above three areas and the selection of new topics for subsequent meetings of the Sub-Committee.
32. The establishment of an intergovernmental body has administrative and financial implications for the FAO Secretariat and for the governments participating in the work of such a body. The Expert Consultation agreed that the aquaculture sector is sufficiently important to justify the expenditure of funds on the Sub-Committee and Members of FAO would be better served by expenditures on the Sub-Committee.
33. For FAO, the convening and servicing of sessions, as well as the preparation, processing and distribution of documentation and follow-up work, will involve additional staff time, travel costs and possible contractual services. The Expert Consultation was informed by the Secretariat that, depending on the items covered in the Agenda, it is estimated that approximately six person/months per year of professional staff time and an equal amount of general service staff time would be required and should be reflected in the Programme of Work and Budget. To the extent that a portion of this work is already undertaken by FAO staff as part of regular programme activities, additional resources would not be required.
34. The Expert Consultation was informed that the direct costs for a meeting session include documentation, translation, and interpretation. Indicative costs are presented here. Experience has shown that four days of interpretation (seven sessions) with five languages cost US$ 38,000; with four languages the cost is US$ 28,800. Translation is approximately US$ 500/1000 words; COFI usually aims at producing four major documents of a total of 25,000 words, i.e. a cost of US$ 12,500. If documents are available for translation well in advance of the required date, translation fees can be substantially reduced (as much as 50%). Costs of meeting facilities and staff time are omitted from these considerations as they will change depending on venue.
35. It should be recognized that during the course of the Sub-Committee's work, extra costs may arise from time to time, for example in the creation of ad hoc groups, and commissioning of review papers. Creative means to meet these costs are available and should be explored, e.g. linking of COFI Sub-Committee meetings with other conferences and taking advantage of other research initiatives that might be relevant to the work of the Sub-Committee. The funding mechanism of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade could also serve as a useful model in this regard.
36. For participating governments and observers the additional financial obligations consist mainly of provision of information, and direct participation in meetings.
37. The participant from the People's Republic of China indicated that there is an offer from the Government of the People's Republic of China to host the first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture and cover local costs.
38. This report was adopted by the Expert Consultation on 29 February 2000. The Expert Consultation recommended that this report be presented to the 24th Session of COFI.