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8. The Secretariat introduced Agenda Item 4 on the basis of document RFB/II/2001/2 which had been prepared in response to a recommendation of the First Meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or Arrangements, held in 1999.

9. The Meeting commended the Secretariat for the comprehensive review of the subject, which addressed issues that were not touched upon during its first meeting. It was pointed out that the discussion focused on experiences of delegates within their own RFBs. Attention was drawn to the fact that land-based activities did not only affect nearshore waters but also enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and that pollutants also reached open oceans. A particular problem of the Baltic Sea was the damming of rivers for hydroelectricity resulting in a drastic decline of wild salmon runs and the necessity for an extensive stocking programme.

10. The Meeting noted that the concerns of particular RFBs naturally reflected the concerns of their Member States and their region. Some participants stressed the primacy of the fisheries management mandate of their RFBs. Others viewed their mandate in a broader perspective which included ecosystem effects and environmental issues within fisheries management. Some delegations suggested that studies should be undertaken to determine the impact of large predators on fisheries, while a delegation pointed out that it was mandated by its convention to minimize the impact of fisheries on all predators.

11. The Meeting recalled that, about 30 years ago, it was the fisheries sector and RFBs that drew the attention of the public to the degradation of the marine and aquatic environment and advocated measures for the protection of seas and rivers against pollution. In this connection, it was pointed out that many RFBs had special committees that dealt with environmental issues.

12. Several participants pointed out that intensive monitoring of the quality of the marine environment was carried out mostly by Regional Seas Conventions (RSCs) and the results published in periodic reports on the state of the marine environment. The data collected could provide good background information which might be used by RFBs in ecosystem-based management of fisheries and thus indirectly address some of the external factors. Some delegations suggested that it could be advantageous therefore if RFBs liaised closely with other international bodies and programmes, particularly RSCs, which might have information on external factors that would contribute to their analysis and decision making.

13. The Meeting acknowledged that with the rapid development of new information technology, it was conceivable that RFBs could build on their strengths and successes to date and begin to explore the extent to which they could take a wider range of external factors into account in their advisory/regulatory functions.

14. Some RFBs which lacked resources and thus had a limited opportunity to address external factors were of the opinion that the issue should effectively be addressed by the national authorities of Member States.

15. After lengthy discussion, the Meeting considered that it was essential to strengthen routine consultations between fisheries stakeholders and other interested bodies and to engage some of the issues raised directly within their workplans/agenda.

16. The Meeting noted with satisfaction the good cooperation that was developing between some RFBs and a number of RSCs, as well as the strengthening of cooperation among RFBs since the First Meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies. In this respect, it took note of the meeting of scientists of tuna management organizations that was held in Phuket, Thailand, in March 2000, and the meeting of scientists of salmon commissions (NASCO, IBSFC, and NPAFC), planned for March 2002, in Vancouver, Canada.

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