Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Annex 3. Profiles of selected bodies and arrangements which play an active role in the development and management of fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)1


APEC was established in 1989 by the APEC Ministerial Conference in response to the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific economies. Its area of competence is the Asia-Pacific region.


APEC has 21 members at present, viz., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, Korea (Rep. of), Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan Province of China, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam. The attendance at the meetings of APEC is always full. The incentives for participation in the work of APEC, especially by developing member countries include research programmes proposed by individual members and the common goal of free and open trade and investment in the region no later than 2010 for the industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies. In order to achieve its objectives, APEC provides opportunities for developing economies to increase their economic growth and level of development consistent with sustainable growth, equitable development and member economy stability. As agreed upon, APEC will not consider new memberships for the next ten years.


The Fisheries Working Group (FWG) was created by the Senior Officers Meeting in 1991.The mandate for FWG is to promote the conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources, promote sustainable development of aquaculture and habitat preservation. FWG seeks solutions to common fishery resource management problems and aquaculture disease control; enhances food safety and quality of fish and fishery products; and promotes sector-specific work relating to trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. The FWG at its May 1999 meeting approved new guidelines on business involvement and private sector participation through inclusion of industry representatives in delegations to FWG meetings, developing joint projects with other regional fisheries and aquaculture organizations and involvement of industry specialists in FWG projects.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The annual contribution of each Member is assessed from the country’s income, general economy, and the region where the country is located. As an example, Thailand pays Baht 2,800,000 (US$ 76,000 approx.) annually as its contribution to APEC. Some countries also finance projects approved by APEC.

Mode of operation

The working arrangements are similar to ASEAN. The work programmes are initiated at the working group level, e.g. the Fisheries Working Group, headed by a Leader. The proposals from the working groups are considered by the Senior Officers Meeting (SOM), and the SOM recommendations are submitted to the Ministerial Meeting for consideration and approval.

Programmes of activity

The following are the work programmes of the Fisheries Working Group:

Achievements and shortcomings

The FWG’s achievements in 1998 and 1999 include:

One of the shortcomings is apparently the failure to reach a detailed agreement on the Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization (EVSL) on fish and fishery products.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

No comment.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)2


ASEAN was formed in 1967, pursuant to the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) made in Bangkok, Thailand, by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the former South Vietnam to promote political and economic cooperation. The Bali Treaty, signed in 1976 by ASEAN heads of state in Bali, Indonesia, considered to be the ASEAN foundation document, formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated. The area coverage of ASEAN is Southeast Asia and the seas of Southeast Asia.


The current membership comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The attendance at the meetings organized by ASEAN is always full. The incentive that induces the Members to participate in the meetings of ASEAN is directives from higher authorities, i.e. ministerial directives.


The main objectives of the ASEAN Declaration are to:

(1) accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership;

(2) promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationships amongst the countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

(3) promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;

(4) provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational professional, technical, and administrative spheres;

(5) collaborate more effectively for the greater utilization of agriculture and industries, the expansion of trade including the study of the problems of international commodity trade, the improvement of transportation and communication facilities and the raising of the living standards;

(6) promote Southeast Asian studies; and

(7) maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes, and explore all avenues for even closer cooperation amongst themselves.

The mandate for ASEAN cooperation in fisheries includes that which would lead to a consolidated management effort and optimum utilization of the fishery resources in the region’s exclusive economic zones; effective exchange of information and statistical data; concerted action in the management of shared fish stocks; and the promotion of intra- and extra-ASEAN trade in fish and fishery products.

Considerable progress has been made to achieve the above objectives, including inter alia the establishment of the ASEAN shrimp industry task force; the publication of manual and practical guidelines; the establishment of a network of the ASEAN-Mekong Fisheries Management and Aquaculture Training Centres; the establishment of a strategic plan of action on ASEAN coopeation in fisheries for 1999-2004; and the establishment of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Fisheries Consultative Group (FCG) of cooperation between the two organizations in fisheries.

Financial arrangements/annual budgets

The ASEAN Members finance the attendance of their representatives, experts, and officials at the meetings organized by ASEAN. Projects of ASEAN are financed by donors and the host governments thereof. No data are available on the estimated annual budget of ASEAN.

Mode of operation

The main organ of ASEAN is the Heads of Governments of the member countries. They meet as and when necessary to give policy directions to ASEAN. Several ASEAN summits have been convened and the next one will be held in Manila the Philippines in November 1999. The fourth Summit held in Singapore in January 1992 streamlined the ASEAN organization structure. Currently the work of ASEAN as directed by the ministerial meetings is implemented by the Secretariat located in Jakarta, Indonesia. Each Member can propose a cooperative project, which is scrutinized by the sectoral working group concerned, e.g. the Sectoral Working Group on Fisheries (WGFi). The latter then submits its recommendations to the ASEAN Senior Officers Meeting concerned (SOM) for consideration. The SOM then submits its recommendations to the respective Ministerial Meeting for consideration and approval.

Programmes of activity

Pursuant to the directives of the 19th Meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry of ASEAN in 1997, ASEAN developed a strategic plan for cooperation in the fields of food, agriculture and forestry for 1999-2004. This plan covers three broad areas, viz., (1) reinforcing food security in the region; (2) increasing ASEAN capability to compete in the world markets with its agricultural export products; and (3) promoting concerted action to solve common issues of the region.

In the fisheries sector, the activities which are being carried out in response to the above strategic issues, include:

1. Adjustment of research on shared fish stocks with a view to attaining the same standard for their management in the ASEAN region;

2. Creating an information network on the ASEAN fishery resources;

3. Establishing a common policy in the joint management of marine and inland capture fisheries to attain sustainability;

4. Rational management of coastal fisheries;

5. Preservation and conservation of marine turtles; and

6. Plan for the conservation of marine turtles.

ASEAN has influenced the attitude and behavior of its Members in the conservation and management of the fishery resources in the region. In 1999, it set up the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Fisheries Consultative Group to cooperate in implementing projects for the conservation and management of fishery resources to ensure their sustainability. These include: (1) improvement of the traditional fish processing industry; (2) promotion of mangrove-friendly aquaculture; (3) management of sea turtles in the Southeast Asian countries; (4) development of fish diseases diagnostic inspection methodologies; (5) development of a monitoring system of the aquatic environment for substances contained in fish bodies; and (6) improvement of fishery statistics.

Achievements and shortcomings

ASEAN commands more influence on Asia-Pacific trade and political and security issues more than its members could achieve individually. ASEAN’s success has been based largely on its use of consultation, consensus, and cooperation. Its role led to the end of conflict and to the 1993 democratic elections in Cambodia. It also established the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to eliminate most tariffs on manufactured goods between its member countries over the next 15 years.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

No comment.

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)3


The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission was established in 1996 after the Tenth accession to the Agreement establishing IOTC, which was approved by the FAO Conference at its Twenty-seventh Session in 1993. The draft Agreement had been negotiated through a series of conferences organized by FAO. The geographical coverage of IOTC is the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas north of the Antarctic convergence. The Commission’s primary attention is on resources of tuna and tuna-like species, which are currently exploited in approximately equal quantities by industrialized distant water fleets and by artisanal local fishers. There is an increasing tendency for riparian countries to invest in export-oriented longline fisheries.


The current membership of the Commission comprises Australia, China, Eritrea, the European Community, France, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Attendance at the Commission meetings is virtually 100 percent; however, a lower participation by coastal member countries is observed in technical activities because of financial constraints. There are incentives to encourage the participation of developing member countries in the work of the Commission, including technical support provided by the Secretariat in the field of data collection. A number of banks have been consulting the Secretariat on stock status in relation to loans provided to coastal countries.

Major constraints inhibiting wider participation in IOTC by developing countries include the relatively high cost of contributions and a perception by some coastal countries that they might have to impose management on their small-scale fishers in the future.


The long-term objective of IOTC is to promote cooperation amongst its Members with a view to ensuring, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimum utilization of stocks covered by the Agreement and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks.

In order to achieve the above objectives, IOTC has the following functions:

(a) to keep under review the conditions and trends of the stocks and to gather, analyse and disseminate scientific information, catch and effort statistics and other data relevant to the conservation and management of the stocks and to fisheries based on the stocks covered by this Agreement;

(b) to encourage, recommend, and coordinate research and development activities in respect of the stocks and fisheries covered by this Agreement, and such other activities as the Commission may decide appropriate, including activities connected with transfer of technology, training and enhancement, having due regard to the need to ensure the equitable participation of Members of the Commission in the fisheries and the special interests and needs of Members in the region that are developing countries;

(c) to adopt, in accordance with Article IX and on the basis of scientific evidence, conservation and management measures, to ensure the conservation of the stocks covered by this Agreement and to promote the objective of their optimum utilization throughout the Area;

(d) to keep under review the economic and social aspects of the fisheries based on the stocks covered by this Agreement bearing in mind, in particular, the interests of developing coastal states;

(e) to consider and approve its programme and autonomous budget, as well as the accounts for the past budgetary period;

(f) to transmit to the Director-General of FAO (hereinafter referred to as the “Director-General”) reports on its activities, programme, accounts and autonomous budget and on such other matters as may be appropriate for action by the Council or the Conference of FAO;

(g) to adopt its own Rules of Procedure, Financial Regulations and other internal administrative regulations as may be necessary to carry out its functions; and

(h) to carry out such other activities as may be necessary to fulfil its objectives as set out above.

IOTC is an on-going process. As it was established in 1996, it is too early to assess the extent to which the above objectives have been met.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The Commission approves its annual budget, which is in the order of US$ 1.1 million. The contributions from its Members to the total budget are assessed through a formula involving tuna catches, per capita GNP and OECD status. There is provision for voluntary contributions, but none have so far been received.

Mode of operation

Working parties address recommendations on technical issues to the Scientific Committee, which in turn addresses recommendations to the Commission. There is provision for Sub-Commissions, which would discuss management and allocation issues, but this has not yet been activated.

Some of the issues related to fisheries management may be politically unacceptable, e.g., management measures to be imposed on small-scale fisheries.

Programmes of activity

The Commission accords the highest priority to the acquisition, validation and diffusion of data. The Secretariat helps contracting and collaborating parties to improve data collection, undertakes stock analysis and modeling at the request of the Working Parties and supports the process as described in the above section. When management measures are imposed, monitoring of their implementation will become necessary. The work of the Commission in resources management has recently led to the consideration of ecosystems in management (this was not included in the original Agreement) and has opened the subsidiary body process to observer participation.

Achievements and shortcomings

It is too early to assess the achievements of the Commission. However, one area of achievement may be regional cooperation which IOTC promotes through meetings, internet and print media. Field training and attachment of national scientists to the Secretariat staff are being planned for capacity building. Economic development is promoted through quantitative, temporal and spatial information on stocks and by informing banks and financial institutions on fishery opportunities, constraints and trends.

The difficult issue facing the Commission is that related to the Flag of Convenience, which may be difficult to solve. VMS and port sampling schemes are proposed to cover missing statistics. Port state control may be invoked to limit illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Question regarding a consultative forum in the region

A consultative and information exchange mechanism has been instituted between RFBs dealing with tunas. This is considered necessary because of the extreme mobility of tuna fleets, which can pass from one ocean to another in response to management constraints. Statistical areas have been modified between these bodies to avoid gaps and overlaps which existed previously.

The muliplication of VMS systems is likely to become an issue unless standards are established (this process is under review by the CWP).

As IOTC is not primarily involved in securing donor funding, and its area of competence is different from that of APFIC, it has no comment to make about the necessity of establishing a consultative forum in the Asia-Pacific region.

Intergovernmental Organization for Marketing Information and Technical Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Asia and Pacific Region (INFOFISH)4


INFOFISH began as an FAO/UNDP regional programme in 1981. In 1985 the Director-General of FAO convened a Conference of Plenipotentiaries with a view to adopting an agreement establishing INFOFISH as an intergovernmental body. The Agreement was adopted in December 1985 and came into force in March 1987. Since then, INFOFISH has been an intergovernmental organization providing marketing information and technical advisory services to the fishery industry of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond from its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The geographical coverage of INFOFISH is the Asia-Pacific region. It has become the leading source of marketing support for producers and exporters in a region which includes some of the largest fishing nations in the world. Its activities include bringing buyers and sellers together, publication of current and long-term marketing information and the operation of technical advisory and specialized services. In addition to organizing exhibitions, conferences, workshop, seminars and training programmes, INFOFISH undertakes consultancies on all aspects of fisheries, pre-harvest and post-harvest aspects.


At present, the membership of INFOFISH comprises 10 countries, viz., Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, DPRK, Malaysia, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Since 1996, INFOFISH has introduced an Associate Membership scheme to facilitate closer interaction and participation in formulating its programmes by private sector and other non-governmental and governmental agencies from all over the world.


The objectives of INFOFISH are (i) to enable the fishery industries of the Contracting Parties to develop in accordance with current and future market demand and to take full advantage of the potential offered by their fishery resources; (ii) to contribute to a more balanced supply of fishery products to the Contracting Parties; (iii) to make the best use of export opportunities within and outside the Asia and Pacific region; and (iv) to promote technical and economic cooperation amongst developing countries.

In order to achieve the above objectives, INFOFISH has the following functions: (a) to provide to its Members information on marketing opportunities and supply prospects of fishery products within and outside the Asia and Pacific region; (b) to advise on product specifications, processing methods and quality standards in accordance with market requirements; (c) to assist in the planning and implementation of national fish market information services; and train staff in government, institutions and industry in the marketing and technical fields.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The operations of INFOFISH are financed from mandatory country contributions, from revenues derived from the organization of conferences, provision of services, subscriptions to its publications, sale of information and paid advertisements as well as from funds donated by multilateral and bilateral donors for specific activities. The annual budget is in the order of US$ 900,000.

Mode of operation

Representatives of the member countries constitute the Governing Council (GC), the highest decision making body of INFOFISH. The Director appointed by GC is the Chief Executive and legal representative of the Organization. The GC meets once every year; it is assisted by a Technical and Advisory Board (TAB) comprising member country representatives. TAB usually meets prior to the GC meeting to recommend specific work programmes and related activities to the GC.

Programmes of activity

INFOFISH provides the following services:

1. Trade promotion: Trade information is disseminated regularly through INFOFISH Trade News, INFOFISH Fact Sheet, European Price Report (EPR) and GLOBEFISH Highlights.

2. Marketing information service: The Marketing information Service offers sales support services and disseminates marketing and technical information through regular informative prublications, e.g. INFOFISH International and WARTA Akuakultur, an aquaculture journal published in the Indo-Malay language, focusing on tropical aquaculture.

3. Technical Advisory Service: The technical Advisory Service Division publishes the following publication on a regular basis in collaboration with the FAO Fisheries Department: The Fish Inspector, dealing with quality and processing aspects, and Fishing Technology Digest which focuses on fishing gear technology and management. Through its Technical Information Centre (TIC), INFOFISH maintains databases on a computerized register of manufacturers and suppliers of aquaculture, fishing, fish handling and processing equipment; a register of Asian-Pacific institutions specializing in aquaculture, fishing and fish processing technology, inspection and quality control; and a computerized global register of consultants in aquaculture, fishing, fish handling, processing and quality control. It also conducts training courses and workshops on fishing technology, fish handling, processing and inspection.

4. Consultancy Service: Provision of consultancy and sub-contracting on all aspects of fisheries from capture to marketing and consumption.

5. International exhibitions, conferences and seminars: INFOFISH has been organizing international seminars and conferences such as TUNA’86, ‘91,’93,’95,’97; AQUATECH ‘90,’94,’96, and SHRIMP’88 and ‘92. The Sixth World Tuna Trade Conference will be held in Bangkok, Thailand in May 2000.

Achievements and shortcomings

No comment provided.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

No comment provided.

International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM)5


ICLARM was conceived and established by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1975 and was incorporated as a legal entity in Metro Manila, Philippines in 1977. It is an international, non-profit, autonomous research center, initially funded by donors and foundations around the world. Since 1992, it has been under the aegis of the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR) sponsored by the World Bank, UNDP, FAO and UNEP. The geographical coverage of the Center is global, covering various fishing regions of the world.


ICLARM is one of the 16 Centers of CGIAR. Most of the work at ICLARM is done in partnership with developing country institutions.


The Center’s mission is to contribute to food security and poverty eradication in developing countries. Through research, partnership, capacity building and policy support, ICLARM promotes sustainable development and use of living aquatic resources based on environmentally sound management. Through international research and related activities and in partnership with national aquatic research systems (NARS), ICLARM’s objectives are to: (1) improve the biological, socio-economic and institutional management mechanisms for sustainable use of aquatic resource; (2) devise and improve production systems that will provide increasing yet sustainable yields; and (3) strengthen national programmes to ensure sustainable development of aquatic resources.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The annual budget of ICLARM allocated by CGIAR is approximately US$ 13 million. This is to cover both administrative expenses and priority research activities which are set in consultation with its partners and stakeholders.

Mode of operation

A Board of Trustees who meet twice a year guides the work of the Center. The Board of Trustees comprises international experts who serve in their private capacity. The Center staff are led by a Director-General who answers to the Board and is assisted by an Executive Management Team and Programme Leaders. The Center promotes acceptance by countries of its advice through its research results which are widely disseminated to all aquatic research and development institutions.

Programmes of activity

The current programmes of activity are:

1. Strategic research on aquatic biodiversity and genetic resources; development of FishBase, an electronic encyclopedia on finfish;

2. Germplasm enhancement through development of techniques for improving breeds of finfish;

3. Improvement of small farm productivity through integrated aquaculture-agriculture systems;

4. Coastal aquaculture and stock enhancement of giant clams, pearl oysters and sea cucumbers; study effects of logging on inshore marine ecosystems;

5. Coral reef management; development of ReefBase, global database on coral reefs and their resources; population interdependencies in the South China Sea Ecosystems;

6. Development of tools and support in use of tools for fisheries assessment and management;

7. Research on policy options to ensure that benefits of improved aquatic resources management are equitably distributed and develop measures for assessing the impact;

8. Dissemination of research results and capacity building among developing country NARS;

9. Partnerships and networking.

Achievements and shortcomings

Through its research output, it is believed that ICLARM has achieved to a large extent its mandate. The Center promotes regional collaboration through regional projects, networking (International Network on Genetics in Aquaculture; Asian Fishery Social Science Research Network; Network of Tropical Aquaculture and Fisheries Professionals; Group of Fisheries and Aquatic Research (GoFAR) under APAARI); partnerships, training, and wide dissemination of research results.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

ICLARM believes that one of the possible areas on which all of the bodies and/or arrangements in the region should focus in order to strengthen their efficiency include coordination among various national, regional, and international institutions and donors. It supports the creation of a consultative forum for discussing fisheries and aquaculture issues amongst the Member States, FAO, regional bodies and interested donors; providing input and guidance for a regional programming workshop; and monitoring the progress in the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. ICLARM is willing to participate in such a forum. It is of the opinion that the forum should commence as an electronic forum for exchange of information amongst various participants in the forum, and depending on the need, meetings could be held once every two years or as necessary. In selecting a body to serve as the consultative forum, other fora in the Asia-Pacific region should be taken into consideration, e.g., the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) and its associated Group of Fisheries and Aquatic Research (GoFAR), etc.

Mekong River Commission (MRC)6


MRC7 was established in 1995 under an agreement signed by the Governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. The geographical coverage of MRC is the Lower Mekong Basin. The particular biogeographical feature covered by MRC is inland fisheries in the Lower Mekong watershed.


The membership of MRC comprises Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. The Commission has a record of full attendance at its meetings. The incentives to encourage participation in the work of the Commission include external financing of development projects in the member countries. Inter-regional cooperation on fisheries management is another factor influencing the full attendance. Currently, China and Myanmar are not members of the Commission but “official dialogue partners”.


The mandate of MRC is to promote cooperation within the fields of sustainable development, utilization, management and conservation of the water and related resources in the Mekong River Basin for the multiple use and mutual benefit of all riparians. This long-term objective is being met through the implementation of the 1995 Agreement.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The estimated annual budget of the Commission is approximately US$ 12-13 million, of which approx. US$ 800,000 are contributions of its members.

Mode of operation

The policy body of the Commission is the Mekong Council represented at the ministerial level. The Council normally meets once a year. A Joint Committee represented at the permanent secretary level, which meets twice a year, assists it. The Mekong Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day work of the Commission, and it is here that the detailed work is carried out. MRC promotes acceptance of advice by members and parties through dialogue and information exchange.

Programmes of activity

The programmes of activity of MRC are detailed in The Mekong Work Programme 2000, and the MRC Programme for Fisheries Management and Development Cooperation, 2000-2004.

Achievements and shortcomings

The Commission believes that its programmes of activity have had an impact on fisheries management in the Lower Mekong Basin. Although the programmes have progressed satisfactorily, MRC indicated that the area which is less successful is the conservation of biodiversity in the mandated area. The areas which have been successful include fishery resources evaluation, assessment of fish migrations and fish taxonomy (including the identification of new species).

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

The MRC Fisheries Programme considers that transboundary fisheries management is one area which should be given priority by the bodies/arrangements in the region. It supports the creation of a consultative forum in the region (Southeast Asia) and is willing to participate in such a consultative forum. It agrees that APFIC could play the role of the consultative forum and should meet once a year.

Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific (NACA)8


NACA began as an FAO/UNDP project responsible for the Asia-Pacific component of a global network of regional aquaculture lead centres established by and coordinated through the Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme (ADCP), Rome, Italy. The latter was an inter-regional project financed by UNDP and executed by FAO. In 1990, it became an autonomous intergovernmental body under an Agreement on NACA, adopted by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries convened by the FAO Director-General in Bangkok, Thailand in January 1988.

The geographical area covered by the Centre is the Asia-Pacific region. This region is unique in the diversity of aquaculture species, farming systems, and has a wide range of agro-ecological conditions from tropical to coldwater aquaculture and from highland to offshore aquaculture.


At present, NACA has 14 members, viz., Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The participating governments (non-members) are Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Iran, Korea (Rep. of) and in some regional projects of NACA, Japan and Singapore. The Philippines is in the process of becoming a member of NACA. Thailand hosts the NACA Secretariat.

Participation in the sessions of the Governing Council and Technical Advisory Committee is almost always 100%. The participating countries also attend these sessions regularly. Funds to cover the core activities (Governing Council and Technical Advisory Committee meetings come from the core contributions, i.e., mandatory contributions to NACA. Participation is funded by NACA, but only for members (as well as Indonesia, which pays an annual voluntary contribution).


The mandate of NACA is to assist the Members in their efforts to expand aquaculture development, through TCDC, mainly for the purpose of increasing food production; improving rural income and employment; diversifying farm production; and increasing foreign exchange earnings and savings.

In order to fulfil the above mandate, NACA, through its linked aquaculture centres, has the following functions: (I) to consolidate the establishment of an expanded network of aquaculture centres; (ii) to strengthen institution and personal linkages among national and regional aquaculture centres; (iii) to promote regional self-reliance in aquaculture development through TCDC; (iv) to promote the role of women in aquaculture development; (v) to conduct interdisciplinary research on selected farming systems; (vi) to train core personnel for national aquaculture development; and (vii) to operate a regional information system for development planning, research and training.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The core budget in 1999 was US$ 482,700. The non-core budget depends on the projects that are ongoing, and was US$ 624,800 in 1999. Member Governments make mandatory contributions; they can also donate in addition to this sum. Thailand as host additionally provides expenditures, i.e. for local staff and for Headquarters maintenance. The Council approves the work programme and the Secretariat implements the programme. Donor funding is sought for components of the programme but TCDC is basically the implementing mechanism.

Mode of operation

The policy making body of NACA is the Governing Council. It is assisted by a Technical Advisory Committee on technical matters, and a Secretariat headed by the NACA Coordinator coordinates the activities. The governments implement the work plan. Governments designate national coordinators for various regional projects. Collaborative projects with donors and other agencies form a working group consisting of in-house Secretariat expertise, donor or collaborating agency expertise and regional experts. NACA takes account of the biogeographical or political features of the region through the regional lead centres and the national aquaculture centres or collaborating national institutions. The NACA mechanism has a built-in methodology for national adaptation of technology. Furthermore, the NACA developed guidelines for policy planning and development are used by the governments through the NACA Council.

Programmes of activity

According to the Second Five-Year Work Programme of NACA, the following are the broad categories of activities to be implemented:

1. Aquatic animal health management
1.1 Aquatic animal health management programme
1.2 Training and information dissemination on environmental impact assessment (EIA)
2. Support for sustainable development
2.1 Support for strengthening national capacity for sustainable aquaculture
2.2 Information and communication
2.3 Regional network of aquaculture farmers
2.4 Training and technical exchange programme
2.5 Mariculture and integrated coastal aquaculture
2.6 Conference on aquaculture in the third millennium
3. Technology and information building
3.1 Research for sustainable aquaculture development
3.2 Regional assessment on key sustainability issues
3.3 Sub-programme on aquaculture policy development
3.4 Database for farm performance and aquaculture sustainability
3.5 Sustainable aquaculture for rural development (SARDev)
4. Network implementation Strategy
4.1 Implementation of the Work Plan
4.2 Strengthening of the Network
Achievements and shortcomings

Since its inception in 1990, NACA has had significant success in implementing its responsibilities. This includes assistance to its Members and participating countries in moving closer to self-reliance in aquaculture development; promotion of TCDC; creation of awareness of the link between fish diseases and the environment; and promotion of regional and international collaborative action in studying and tackling relevant issues related to aquaculture development. NACA fosters regional cooperation. It is hoped that through its efforts, economic development will be derived from the adoption of environmentally sustainable aquaculture practices as well as from the strengthening of the institutional and capacity building.

Question regarding a consultative forum in the region

NACA fully supports the organization of a consultative forum in the region and believes that sources of funding might be one of the possible areas on which all of the bodies/arrangements might focus in order to strengthen their activities. The broad terms of reference of such a forum as indicated in the questionnaire were also supported. NACA is willing to participate in the forum if established, which should be held annually, and it would contribute to the work of the forum as required, through its expert participation, hosting meetings, and assistance in logistics. It would also help to identify and make available the participation of appropriate experts other than the in-house experts. NACA believes that APFIC would be an appropriate body to play the role of the consultative forum.

Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC)9


The Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) was established as an intergovernmental technical organization under an Agreement Establishing the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, signed by the representatives of the following governments in January 1968: Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Republic of Vietnam. The geographical coverage of SEAFDEC is Southeast Asia, viz., the South China Sea and its adjacent waters. The Special Advisor of SEAFDEC asserted that the SEAFDEC programmes adhered to no particular fishing grounds. Future SEAFDEC focuses may duplicate those of the member countries. As there is no high seas in Southeast Asia, he was of the opinion that it might be wise for SEAFDEC to focus on the “overlapping maritime areas” of coastal States by providing technical information on shared fish stocks. However, the SEAFDEC role on fish stock management, according to him, was not clear.


Membership of the Center is open to the governments of the Southeast Asian countries and Japan (Article 3 of the Agreement). The current (1999) membership of the Center comprises Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar10, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (Socialist Republic of). Cambodia has indicated interest in joining the Center in the foreseeable future. Because of recent internal difficulties, Indonesia has not been able to continue the process of becoming a member as planned.

SEAFDEC has a good record of attendance at all of the meetings it has organized, e.g. the annual meeting of the Council of the Center which is attended by directors appointed by the member governments. Other meetings organized by the Center have also had almost full attendance, as funds are available to finance the participation of experts in working parties, seminars and workshops organized by the Center. On several occasions, SEAFDEC has also paid for experts from other organizations to attend its meetings. Hence, there have been no apparent constraints preventing wider participation in the planned activities of SEAFDEC as experienced by some regional bodies.


The purpose of the Center, as stipulated in Article 1 of the Agreement, is to contribute to the promotion of fisheries development in Southeast Asia by mutual cooperation among the member governments in Southeast Asia and through collaboration with international organizations and governments external to the Center.

To fulfill its purpose, the Center has the following functions as stipulated in Article 2 of the Agreement: “(i) to train fisheries technicians of the Southeast Asian countries; (ii) to study such fisheries techniques as are suited to the fisheries of Southeast Asia; (iii) to develop fishing grounds and to conduct investigation of fisheries resources and research in oceanography in Southeast Asia; (iv) to collect and analyze information related to the fisheries in Southeast Asia; (v) to provide the Members with the results of studies and researches by the Center and other information; and (vi) to handle the other matters related to the functions referred to in (i) to (v)”.

The formal working relationship between SEAFDEC and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) established in 1999 has broadened the mandate of the Center, and it is felt that the relationship can complement both ASEAN (a political body) and SEAFDEC (a technical body) to a productive end.

During the thirty years of its existence, the Center has, through its technical departments, fulfilled its mandate by producing increased competency of the personnel in the fisheries industries of its member countries and information and advice for the Member Governments in the development of their fisheries. The Special Advisor stated that the Regional Fisheries Policy Working Group (WGRFP), established by the Council in 1998, had been a successful undertaking which would contribute benefits to both ASEAN and SEAFDEC.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

According to Article 11 of the Agreement, the Members shall provide the Center with an agreed amount of money, movable and immovable property and services necessary for the establishment and the operation of the Center, in accordance with their respective national laws and regulations and within the limits of their respective annual budgetary appropriations. The Center can also seek financial and technical assistance from potential donors and other organizations to enable it to fulfil its functions, provided that such assistance has no conditions contrary to the purpose of the Center (Article 13 of the Agreement). Currently the Members that host the four departments of the Center are Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. These countries provide a substantial amount of money annually for the operation of the Center (Secretariat and the four departments). Other members provide token contributions annually. Japan provides expert service, equipment and fellowship funds to support the activities undertaken by the Secretariat and the four departments. Japan also provides a trust fund to support selected priority programmes of activity in the orientation of the SEAFDEC future role along the lines of the strategic plan approved by the SEAFDEC Council in 1998, amounting to US$ 900,000 for a period of five years commencing in 1998.

The abridged consolidated financial statements of the Center for 1996 and 1997 as approved by the Council of Directors at its Thirty-first Meeting in Japan, 9-12 March 1999 indicated that the total income of the Center (Secretariat and the four Departments) in 1996 and 1997 was US$ 15.7 million and US$ 11.9 million respectively. The expenditure in 1997 totaled US$11.6 million, comprising US$ 5 million for administrative costs (43%), US$ 3.7 for research programmes (32%), US$ 2.4 for training activities (20.7%), US$ 0.27 million for information programmes (2.3%), and US$ 0.17 million for collaborative programmes(1.5%). In addition, Japan provides a trust fund to finance special projects as indicated in the previous paragraph.

Mode of operation

The Council of Directors who are appointed by the member countries is the policy-making organ of the Center. The Council is assisted by a Programme Committee and a Secretariat headed by the Secretary-General. The Center’s activities are carried out by the Secretariat in Bangkok and its four departments, viz., the Training Department (TD) located in Samut Prakarn, Thailand; Marine Fisheries Research Department (MFRD) in Changi, Singapore; Aquaculture Department (AQD) in Manila and Iloilo, the Philippines; and Marine Fishery Resources Development and Management Department (MFRDMD) in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. In order to facilitate close collaboration between ASEAN and SEAFDEC, a Fisheries Consultative Group co-chaired by the Secretary-General of SEAFDEC and Chairman of the ASEAN Fisheries Working Group was established in 1999.

The resolutions and recommendations arising out of the annual meetings of the Council of Directors may be addressed to either the Member Governments for consideration and/or action or as directives to the Secretariat or the Departments to implement.

Programmes of activities

The programmes of activity of the Center may be divided into four broad categories. These are research, training, collaborative projects and information, covering various aspects of fisheries development and management, ranging from fishing and gear technologies, applied research on resources management and oceanography to post-harvest technology and aquaculture development to compilation and dissemination of fishery information and statistics.

In 1997, SEAFDEC adopted a Strategic Plan to serve as a policy directive for future programmes of the Center. The Plan focuses on four major areas: (1) Regional initiatives, including cooperation with ASEAN; (2) Policy initiatives, especially against unfair external threats; (3) Cost-effectiveness in the implementation of activities based on regional needs; and (4) SEAFDEC programme visibility in the region and at the international level.

According to the report of the Secretary-General, submitted to the Thirty-first Meeting of the Council of the Center in Japan in March 1999, the Secretariat in 1998 was responsible for making progress in implementing a number of projects. These included the Regionalization of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; the Management of the Sustainable Coastal Fisheries; Regional Fisheries Policy Working Group; and a collaborative project with the Marine Institute of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

In 1998, the Training Department conducted seven research studies and three collaborative projects, including inter alia a fishery resources and oceanographic survey in the Philippine seas, regular training courses in marine fishing and gear technologies and a training course for extension officers in extension methodology and responsible fishing.

The Marine Fisheries Research Department undertook the implementation of 11 research projects, five training courses and one special fellowship programme in various aspects of post-harvest technology development, including the holding of a workshop to undertake the review of fish products in Southeast Asia. It also published the Handbook on Tuna Products, Guide to the Grading of Fish and Shellfish and Proceedings of the Seminar on Advances in Fish Processing Technology in Relation to Quality Management.

The Aquaculture Department continued its work on 27 research projects, including a community-based fishery resources management project, 12 of which were implemented with the cooperation of other international and regional organizations. The training programmes included coastal aquaculture and resource assessment. Collaborative projects conducted included a training-workshop on the culture and biology of edible molluscs.

MFRDMD implemented 16 research, six information, two collaborative projects and three training projects. These projects included a regional training course on sea turtle research and conservation, a regional tuna-tagging programme in the South China Sea, and a regional training course in acoustic methodology.

Achievements and shortcomings

Whilst the contributions of the Center to fisheries development in Southeast Asia have been recognized by its member countries as indicated in reports of the meetings of the Council of the Center, the shortcomings include the difficulties in assessing the cost effectiveness of the projects implemented. Furthermore, it is noted that the member countries should have more active collaboration in the work of the Center. Another shortcoming is the decreasing donor funds, which are given to the Center with increasing conditions.

Question regarding a consultative forum in the region

The Special Advisor was doubtful about the benefit of a consultative forum in the region. If other organizations wish to have one, APFIC would not be an appropriate forum. The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific would be in a better position to provide such a forum.

Southeast Asian Programme in Ocean Law, Policy and Management (SEAPOL)11


SEAPOL is a regional programme established in 1981 as a private incorporation within a university, the Sukhothai Thammatiraj University in Bangkok, Thailand. The area coverage of the Programme is the Asia-Pacific region with special emphasis on Southeast Asia.


The current membership of the Programme comprises 400 associates of officials and experts specialized in ocean affairs. All members are included in the Programme’s communication network and most meetings are open to self-financing individuals. Many, if not most activities, have been co-organized with other marine programmes/institutions in the region. To encourage participation of individuals/experts in the Programme’s meetings, funds from donors are available for financing, and an agenda and participants that are perceived as important to the invited countries or individuals. However, limited funding determines the number of participants to be invited.


The objective of the Programme is to promote regional and sub-regional cooperation in various aspects of marine affairs, especially legal, policy and management issues related to Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. In almost two decades of existence, the Programme has achieved its mandate.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The annual budget of the Progamme is approximately US$500,000, currently contributed by Canada through CIDA. Voluntary contributions are obtained from institutions when co-organizing events with SEAPOL. There is a stipulation in the agreement with CIDA for participation of Canadian experts in the work of SEAPOL.

Mode of operation

SEAPOL regularly organizes meetings of experts, workshops/conferences, seminars and roundtables on issues related to the implementation of UNCLOS and recent global instruments and initiatives on sustainable development and environmental management. Recent focus has been on cooperative management in the Gulf of Thailand. SEAPOL promotes acceptance of advice by members and parties through national consultative meetings, regional forums and dissemination of publications.

Programmes of activity

The current priority programmes of work include co-management of marine resources and environemt in the Gulf of Thailand; system compliance with the 1982 UNCLOS and related instruments/initiatives such as Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development; and partnership initiatives such as the Marine Affairs Institution Network (MAIN).

Achievements and shortcomings

SEAPOL has promoted the building of working relations amongst officials and experts of the littoral States of the Gulf of Thailand; building a team in boundary-making and ocean policy training courses; building a region-based network of government officials and experts and has started a regional network of marine affairs institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. It is felt that the work of SEAPOL has led to consensus building in commitment and actions amongst littoral States towards greater cooperative management in the Gulf of Thailand and also in exploring the nature and means of compliance with international law and agreements. These activities have thus contributed toward capacity building in particular and economic development of the countries in the region in general.

The main difficulty encountered by SEAPOL is the lack of adequate funding.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

SEAPOL is of the opinion that there should be greater and closer coordination amongst regional bodies and arrangements in the region. Hence, it supports the establishment of a consultative forum in the region to facilitate discussions of regional issues amongst the Member States, FAO, regional bodies and arrangements as well as interested donors. Nevertheless, it is felt that the monitoring of progress in the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries should be the duty of FAO. It will contribute to the forum by providing expertise in law, policy and management. It agrees that APFIC could play a role as the consultative forum. Finally, it warns against the creation of another body to compete with existing activities and institutions. There should be a body with the major goal of reviewing and coordinating existing programmes/activities and facilitating cooperation amongst various bodies in the region.

South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)12


The South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was established in August 1979 as an independent legal body upon the FFA Convention entering into force. A declaration by the South Pacific Forum in 1977 contained a resolution to establish the Forum Fisheries Agency. A draft Convention was presented to the 1978 Forum and the 10th South Pacific Forum that met in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in July 1979 to formally accept the Convention establishing the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency.

The geographical area concerned is known as western and central Pacific. This encompasses the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of FFA member States and is broadly found within the longitude coordinates of 147°W through to 103°E and the latitudes of 10°S up until 18°N (this is a very loose description). Other relevant descriptions include the SPC statistical area, and the area of the US Tuna Treaty. The latter is a treaty between the US and the members of the FFA and governs the access of up to 50 purse seiners operating in the EEZs of FFA member countries (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Western and Central Pacific (WCP) showing Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) as unshaded areas and the SPC Statistical Area (solid line).

Source: Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Membership is open to independent Pacific Island Coastal States that exercise full sovereign rights over their fishing resources. There are sixteen member countries of the Forum Fisheries Agency comprising Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Annual sessions of the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) are always attended by at least one representative from each of the member countries. This is also generally true of other special Committee meetings and technical meetings that the Agency coordinates, whether it is open to full membership or undertaken on a sub-regional basis. In addition to the FFC, there is full involvement of the FFA membership in regional workshops on fisheries management and other topics.

In general, funding is available or sought to ensure the costs of at least one representative per Pacific island states is supported. In addition to funding support, engagement in the work and meetings of the agency have considerable spin-off to member countries in the form of enhanced national positions, cooperative and harmonized arrangements and learning from the experience of others.

The Convention that established the Forum Fisheries Agency requires that membership shall be open to members of the Pacific Islands Forum (formally named the South Pacific Forum) and other states or territories in the region on the recommendation of the Committee and with approval from the Forum. Applications for membership are considered by the Committee and measured against a set of criteria adopted in 1985. These consider that the:


The Agency’s mission is to enable its member countries to obtain maximum sustained benefit from the conservation and sustainable use of their fishery resources. In addition, the Agency, subject to the directions from the Committee, is tasked with collecting, analysing, evaluating and disseminating statistical and biological information with respect to living marine resources of the region and in particular the highly migratory species. The same process also applies to relevant information concerning information on prices, shipping, processing and marketing of fish and fish products both within and beyond the region.

Furthermore, the function of the FFA Secretariat13 is to provide on request, technical advice and information on the development of fisheries policies and negotiations and assistance in the issuance of licenses, the collection of fees or in matters pertaining to surveillance and enforcement.

The Forum Fisheries Agency is considered an effective regional body in the Pacific region. The Agency has delivered consistently and continues to provide advice and assistance to member countries within its mandate. It’s success is in part due to the specific focus of its works, namely to maximize the sustainable economic benefits from member countries’ fishery resources, predominately highly migratory fish stocks.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The annual budget was US$ 6 million in 1999. This comes from the Agency’s General Fund (member contribution) and Trust Fund (donor contributions and income from cost recovery). The General Fund is relatively constant (at US$ 2-2.5 million), while the size of the Trust Fund varies from year to year according to workplans and availability of donor funds.

Member countries are required to contribute to the General Fund. In total this amounts to US$ 800,000 per annum, of which Australia and New Zealand contribute one third each, with the 14 island members of FFA contributing the remaining one third.

The major donors to the Agency are also member countries Australia and New Zealand). There is however little or no conflict between the priorities established by the governing council (Forum Fisheries Committee) embodied in the work programme, and the donor’s priorities.

Other donor funds are used for the Agency’s work programmes for which funding submissions are made. In some instances influence may extend to restrictions on the nationalities of the consultants/staff members that can be used on projects.

Mode of operation

The governing council is the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC). The Committee meets annually and convenes special sessions on an as-need basis. The annual session primarily takes care of the Agency’s administrative and financial business and approves future work programmes and their associated budgets. In addition, fishery issues are discussed and decisions of a regional nature are made.

Technical meetings, workshops and fellowships are also conducted under the work programmes prescribed by the Legal, Economic and Marketing, Monitoring Control and Surveillance and Information Technology Divisions.

Each member country is a Sovereign State. Decisions made by the Committee in regards to fisheries are made in the best interests of the region. Within the FFA, a sub-arrangement exists. This is Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA)14 which convenes special meetings supported by the Secretariat to discuss matters of common interest.

Advice is provided by the Secretariat to the Committee and to individual member, countries in relation to the living marine resources of the region and in particular, highly migratory species. Under the direction of the Committee, the Secretariat provides advice and assistance to member countries in the management and development of their tuna resources.

Programmes of activity

There are a number of regional and sub-regional agreements (see below) that are major achievements. Many, if not all of these are directly related to the management of resources. In addition, the provision of comprehensive advice and support for national fisheries management programmes have considerably strengthened national achievements in the this area.

Achievements and shortcomings

The Agency has been very successful in achieving its mandate. The tuna fisheries of the western and central Pacific are now in good health and there are a number of successes attributable directly to FFA. Nevertheless, ensuring full compliance with regional agreements (including the minimum terms and conditions of access mentioned below) that must be implemented through national legislation is a time-consuming process. The need to ensure that a sovereign country is no worse off though regional cooperation is an essential prerequisite for the effective and timely implementation of regional initiatives. The time taken for countries to determine that their best interests will be served via cooperation is at the heart of these delays and occasional perturbations in an otherwise harmonious regional approach to fisheries management within and between FFA member countries.

In the twenty years that the Forum Fisheries Agency has been in existence there have been a number of achievements that can be considered ‘great successes’. There are a number of regional arrangements between FFA member countries, and in the case of the US Tuna Treaty, with a distant water fishing nation.

The Treaty on Fisheries between the US and the 16 member countries of the FFA was signed in 1987. It offers access to the waters of FFA member countries by the US purse seine fleets.

The Nauru Agreement concerning Cooperation in the management of fisheries of common interest provides the legal framework for the PNA group (see footnote 14). The Nauru group’s common interest is centered in three main areas: shared tuna stocks16, contiguous EEZs, and the fact that, to operate economically (particularly purse seiners) in the region, distant water fishing nations (DWFNs) require access to the EEZs of the PNA group, as well as the adjacent high seas.

The Minimum Terms and Conditions (MTCs) were agreed to as an FFA-wide initiative by the South Pacific Forum in May 1983. The MTCs set out the base requirements of Island countries as to the conduct of vessel owners and operators entering into fisheries access arrangements. They include issues such as licensing procedures (including use of the Regional Register of Foreign Fishing Vessels administered by FFA in Honiara, Solomon Islands), catch and other reporting requirements, placement of observers, the prohibition of transhipment at sea, and more recently, the fitting and operation of VMS. The revised, harmonized MTCs were adopted by the South Pacific Forum in 1990, and apply to all arrangements for fisheries access to the EEZs of FFA member countries. The MTCs provide a major benefit to distant water fishing nations as they no longer have different rules in sixteen different EEZs.

The Palau Arrangement for the Management of the Western Pacific Purse Seine Fishery came into force on 1 November 199517 and is open for accession by other members of FFA who are not parties to the Nauru Agreement. The Palau Arrangement is a sub-regional management oriented instrument, and was initiated as a precautionary move to protect the yellowfin stock, which in the late 1980’s was thought to be in danger of over exploitation. It is noteworthy that the PNA group moved swiftly in the face of uncertainty, and this is illustrative of the desire by Island countries to act in a precautionary manner before over-fishing threatens their vital tuna resource. The Arrangement seeks primarily to coordinate the in-zone management arrangements of the Parties with regard to the Western Pacific purse seine fishery, under the rights and obligations expressed in Articles 56(1) and 61 of UNCLOS. Control over fishing effort (and hence catch) is sought by limiting the number of purse seine vessels that can be licensed to fish in the waters of the Parties.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Arrangement for Regional Fisheries Access came into force in September 199518, and is open for accession by any other FFA member countries, with the concurrence of the Parties. The Arrangement establishes a licensing regime under which domestic purse seine vessels may gain access to the major fishing grounds in the western and central Pacific tuna fishery. Access is to be on terms and conditions no less favourable than those given to foreign fishing vessels under bilateral or multilateral access arrangements. Vessels wishing to operate under the Arrangement are first assessed for their eligibility and, if successful, are then entitled to a licence to fish in the EEZs of the parties to the Arrangement. The FSM Arrangement is linked to the Palau Arrangement in that the number of vessels licensed under the FSM Arrangement must be consistent with the numbers (205) of specified in the Palau Arrangement.

The Niue Treaty entered into force on 20 May 1993. Like the Nauru Agreement, the Niue Treaty is enabling legislation which depends for implementation on the establishment of subsidiary agreements on a bilateral, sub-regional or regional basis. The Treaty is a head agreement intended to provide flexible arrangements for cooperation in fishery surveillance. Bilateral or subsidiary agreements will contain clauses facilitating closer cooperation in many ways, such as the physical sharing of surveillance and enforcement equipment, the empowerment of each other’s officers to perform enforcement duties, enhancement of extradition procedures and evidentiary provisions.

Following concern over the impact of drift-nets, the Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Drift-nets in the South Pacific (Wellington Convention) entered into force in May 1991. Largely though the cooperative action of FFA member countries and a subsequent UN resolution, the end of an environmentally unacceptable method of fishing in the region was achieved, and the first step taken towards the development of a multilateral management regime for albacore tuna.

To establish effective control over all fishing activity in the region (western and central Pacific), the island States in the region require improved fleet monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS). Though several small island States in the Pacific are endeavouring to establish national MCS programmes, many of them have only limited personnel and financial resources to apply to this effort. The FFA has proved to be an effective coordinator for regional initiatives aimed at improving compliance with national and regional terms and conditions for fishing in the western and central Pacific. In recent year the Pacific Island countries have adopted several procedures to assist their MCS efforts. These include: the Regional Register of Foreign Fishing Vessels; a coordinating role in terms of fishery surveillance overflights by Australian, New Zealand and the French airforces; support for the regional observer programme and creation of several national observer programmes. The most recent initiative in regional MCS collaboration is the development of a satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). The VMS involves placing beacons (automatic location communicators) on vessels which then indicate position, speed and course of such vessels. This system is seen as a cost-effective method of complementing existing national and regional MCS activities.

FFA fosters regional cooperation, capacity building and economic development through regional initiatives that achieve better outcomes than would have been achieved if the initiatives in question had been approached on a national basis. For instance, the regional VMS (vessel monitoring system) programme which centers the expensive and complex hardware and software hub at FFA allows FFA member countries to take full advantage of a state-of-the art VMS at a fraction of the cost establishment and maintenance cost.

The FFA Secretariat also provides training courses and in-country workshops to promote capacity building and economic development in the region.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

The authorities of FFA refer to a series of negotiations under the Multilateral High Level Conference (MHLC) organized by the United Nations for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish tocks in the Western and Central Pacific. Major regional donors are also present as participants and observers at the MHLC sessions. These include UNDP, Australia, Canada, the EU, France, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Taiwan Province of China, and USA. It is expected that these negotiations will result in the establishment of a suitable regime with which to manage and conserve highly migratory fish stocks throughout the western and central Pacific. The FFA authorities point out that the MHLC process and the resulting mechanism is in essence a consultative platform or forum with which to address the management issues relating to highly migratory fish stocks across the region. For these reasons, FFA will not support the establishment of another forum by FAO.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)19

Marine Resources Division


An Agreement of the “participating governments” which administered territories in the Pacific, viz., Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America founded SPC in 1947. This Agreement is called the Canberra Agreement. SPC is the oldest regional intergovernmental agency in the pacific region, covering land, archipelagic/territorial and EEZ areas of American Samoa (US), Cook Island, Federal States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam (US), Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Northern Marianas (US), New Caledonia (France), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie & Oeno (United Kingdom), French Polynesia (France), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau (New Zealand), Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna (France). The particular political feature of the fishing grounds covered by SPC is that the small island States of Oceania have sovereign rights over a large proportion of the Earth’s surface. Biogeographically, coral reefs and tropical pelagic fisheries predominate, with relatively small human and fish populations by Asian standards.


The SPC membership comprises those mentioned above plus “metropolitan members”, viz., Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The attendance at meetings convened by SPC is almost always complete with occasional absences of one or two countries. The main incentives to encouraging participation of the Members include the financing of the developing members in the meetings organized by SPC and the opportunity for them to have a say in decisions and directions and for dialogue with fisheries people in the neighboring countries. The main participation is at a “bilateral” level alongside the SPC staff on joint development projects. The developing member countries effectively control and guide the work of SPC.


SPC has a broad mandate covering various aspects of social and economic development of the island member States. For the fisheries sector, the mission of the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the SPC Marine Resources Division is “To provide member countries with the scientific information and advice necessary to rationally manage fisheries exploiting the region’s resources of tuna, billfish and related species.” The Coastal Fisheries Programme’s mission is “To provide a regional support service that assists Pacific Islanders in identifying the status, and optimizing the long-term social and economic value of small-scale fisheries and aquatic resources in Pacific Island waters.”

Financial arrangements/annual budgets

The support for the Divisional work programme comes mainly from sources separate from SPC’s assessed contributions. The SPC core budget supports the management and the administration of the Division, support services such as interpretation and translation, and currently covers two professional staff positions. The majority of the work programme, like that of most other regional organizations, is funded by special projects or member country “extrabudgetary” support. The Division has a lot of extrabudgetary assistance in common with all regional intergovernmental programmes, except the University of the South Pacific, which has considerable student-related income.

The 1999 budget was US$ 3,950,000. The assessed contributions from the member countries amounted to US$ 450,000, and the voluntary contributions totaled US$ 3,300,000.

Mode of operation

SPC is not a management body, but a support body. It provides expert services and information to the member countries. Consultative meetings of the members provide guidance as to the work of the Division. In these meetings, both dependent territories and independent countries have equal say about the programmes to be undertaken. Decision-making is by consensus.

Programmes of activity

The fisheries programme of SPC helps to develop the capacities of the Island countries and territories to survey, assess, harvest, and manage access to their marine resources, through encouragement and training by skilled fishermen, post-harvest specialists, entrepreneurs, scientists and planners. SPC supports the development of the regional fisheries at the subsistence, commercial and industrial levels. Its fisheries programmes fall into two main y areas, viz., coastal fisheries and oceanic fisheries.

The Coastal Fisheries Programme operates in response to the specific requests of SPC member countries and territories or at the direction of the SPC Regional Technical Meeting on Fisheries. Key activity areas include:

Capture fisheries: training and demonstration programmes for fishermen; exploratory fishing and gear development; small and medium-scale commercial offshore fishing, utilizing fish-aggregating devices (FADs).

Post-harvest technology: training programmes to enhance income of fishermen, seafood processors and traders; dissemination of information and development of value-added products; full utilization of harvested marine resources; and quality assurance practices.

Women in fisheries development: technical advice and training for women-in-fisheries activities; opportunities for women to participate in small-scale income-generating activities

Training programmes: assistance to the member countries in planning and implementing national manpower development and training programmes in the fisheries sector; improved coordination in the regional training activities; provision of specialized training not readily available through established training institutions.

Resource assessment: provision of advice to the Members on coastal marine resource assessment and the implementation of practical inshore fishery management regimes and the maintenance of inshore marine resource exploitation databases.

Information: production of documents and newsletters; assistance to the member countries and territories in the development of their information resources and information dissemination services.

The Oceanic Fisheries Programme includes:

The five-year South Pacific Regional Tuna Resources Assessment and Monitoring Project (SPRTRAMP): scientific monitoring of tuna fisheries in the region; refinement of stock assessment work on tuna; and tuna tagging.

Fisheries statistics: collection and processing of data collected from fishing vessel logsheets and from other sources including those generated by port samplings and observer activities; analysis of the collected data and provision of reports to the Members.

Tuna and billfish research: monitoring of the exploitation levels of the stocks of commercially important tuna and billfish species; assessment of the status of the stocks; provision of information on the biology and ecology of tunas, billfishes and bait species; assessment of the interaction between different fisheries for oceanic species through the study of tuna population dynamics.

The work of SPC for the fisheries sector has profoundly influenced the fisheries policies of its Members. SPC has helped to set up many national fisheries departments. As most Pacific Island countries have had little local resource management expertise, SPC has pioneered and promoted fishery resources management attitudes in the Pacific islands region. Expert resources have been pooled at the regional level and are still relied upon in national policy planning.

Achievements and shortcomings

SPC has successfully implemented its mandate mainly because of careful limitation of objectives to those that are achievable, and to those that fit into the regional political framework. The major achievements include assessment of regional tuna stocks and the development of regional tuna fishery catch/effort statistics and a monitoring system, thus leading towards the effective management of the fisheries in the future. Assistance through training, information and expert advice/placement has helped foster regional cooperation, capacity building and economic development.

The shortcomings identified include the inability to provide useful scientific information on coral reef fisheries because of their complexity and the inability to maintain support for aquaculture development due to lack of funding. These areas will be a priority in the immediate future, and major new projects are planned to start in the year 2000.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

SPC does not favor the creation of another consultative forum in its region, as there is already adequate regional consultation. Nevertheless, for the Asia-Pacific region, it is felt that some forum for subregional fisheries management organizations/arrangements to meet and discuss stock/fleet boundary/overlap issues would appear to be useful. As APFIC has no Pacific Island members, it is felt that APFIC might be an inappropriate forum to cover the Pacific as well as Asia.

United Nations Environmental Programme-East Asian Seas Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-EAS/RCU)20


The UNEP Action Plan for the East Asian Seas was established in 1991 by an agreement of the countries in the region. The programme covers the waters of Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, which are collectively referred to as the East Asian seas.


The present membership of the programme comprises Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. All countries take part in the Coordinating Body of the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), and participate voluntarily. There have been no constraints preventing this participation.


The mandate is to foster regional cooperation and capacity building to achieve its purpose of conserving, managing and restoring the coastal environment of the Seas of East Asia. To achieve this goal, RCU will coordinate and implement the Action Plan as agreed upon by the participating countries. At the next meeting of COBSEA, a long-term plan will be tabled for endorsement by the participating countries. It is hoped that this long-term plan and the adjusting structure of EAS/RCU will help achieve the long-term goal.

Financial arrangements/annual budget

The annual budget is approximately US$ 400,000, excluding voluntary contributions amounting to US$ 175,000. This budget is for the operational costs of the Secretariat or the East Seas Regional Coordinating Unit and does not include the project costs. Pledges by countries do not support the EAS/RCU. The funding is topped up by UNEP.

Mode of operation

COBSEA operates through its secretariat, the EAS/RCU. As required, meetings of experts, member country representatives and committees are formed to cover specific projects. The work of EAS/RCU is guided by consultations with the member countries and recommendations of experts. The Programme promotes the acceptance of advice by members through its publications issued occasionally.

Programmes of activity

The following are the key activities of the EAS:

1. GEF International Waters Proposal for the South China Sea which has received GEF funding at the PDF b level;

2. GEF Biodiversity Proposal at PDF b level for improving shrimp farming and addressing biodiversity issues of shrimp farming;

3. International Coral Reef Initiative project on coral reef monitoring and training;

Achievements and shortcomings

EAS/RCU has not always been successful in achieving its mandate. Up till now no long-term pragmatic plan has been in operation. There has been a lack of coordination and cooperation with other agencies, including FAO. Nevertheless, the successes includes the convening of a number of ad hoc workshops and meetings and the publication of a number of reports prepared by expert consultants.

Questions regarding a consultative forum in the region

EAS/RCU considers that close cooperation between all bodies/arrangements should be maintained. However, this is difficult without specific aspects of common interest being identified for particular projects. EAS/RCU does not consider it useful for all agencies to agree to cooperate without specific projects on which to work. It is most important that all agencies/bodies communicate their activities and proposed activities to each other so that they can cooperate where applicable. Efficiency and synergy will occur if agencies cooperate more and take into consideration the needs and objectives of each other. The EAS/RCU would welcome the organization of a consultative forum and suggests that environmental agencies should be included. It believes that such a forum could assist with regional programming workshops and could help in the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and EAS/RCU would participate in such a forum, if established. It proposes that the forum should meet twice a year. If only local agencies in Thailand are brought together, then four times a year. These local meetings must be incorporated into regional meetings. It believes that FAO could organize and play the part of the consultative forum.

1 This information was kindly provided by Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai, Director, Foreign Fisheries Affairs Division, Department of Fisheries, Government of Thailand. Additional information was obtained from website:

2 This information was kindly supplied by Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai, Director of Foreign Fisheries Affairs Division, Department of Fisheries, Government of Thailand. Additional information was obtained from Menasveta, D. 1993. Report of the Study Group on the Feasibility of Establishing an Intergovernmental Technical Secretariat for the CDMSCS. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand, pp. 64,65.

3 The information was kindly provided by Mr. D. Ardill, Secretary of the Commission.

4 The information was obtained from the available literature about INFOFISH including the internet INFOFISH webpage.

5 Dr. Modadugu V. Gupta, Director, International Relations and Networks Coordinator kindly provided the reply to the questionnaire about the Center.

6 The information was kindly provided through a reply to the questionnaire by Dr. K.I. Matics, Information Specialist, MRC Fisheries Programme.

7 Formerly, the body was referred to as the Committee for the Lower Mekong Basin which was set up in 1957.

8 The information on NACA was obtained from available documents on the Network and from the reply to the questionnaire kindly prepared by Mr. Pedro Bueno, Programme Officer of NACA.

9 The information on SEAFDEC was taken from the available literature and documents issued by the Center. Additional information and comments were obtained through an interview by the Consultant with the SEAFDEC Secretariat staff held at the SEAFDEC Secretariat Headquarters on 1 November 1999. The SEAFDEC Special Advisor, Dr. Y. Kato kindly gave most of the comments.

10 Myanmar joined SEAFDEC in November 1999.

11 The information on SEAPOL was obtained from a reply to the questionnaire kindly provided by Dr. Frances Lai, Executive Director of SEAPOL and Ms. A. Sirivivatnanon, Chief Administrator

12 The reply to the questionnaire was kindly prepared by Drs. Ian Cartwright, Deputy Director, and Barbara Hanchard, Executive Officer, FFA

13 The South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency comprises the Forum Fisheries Committee and a Secretariat based in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

14 Members comprise the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu (eight countries).

15 The Multilateral High Level Conference on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific (MHLC) and the FFA Regional Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

16 In particular, skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and bigeye (Thunnus obesus).

17 As of May 1998, the Palau Arrangement has been signed by the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. All but Tuvalu, Palau and Solomon Islands have ratified the Agreement.

18 As of May 1998, Parties to the FSM arrangement are: the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

19 The information above was kindly provided by Dr. Tim Adams, Director, Marine Resources Division, SPC.

20 This information was kindly provided through a reply to the questionnaire by Dr. Hugh Kirkman, Coordinator, the East Asian Seas Regional Coordinating Unit.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page