17. The Secretariat, in introducing the documents relevant to the above agenda item (RFB/II/2001/3, RFB/II/2001/Inf. 5 and Inf. 7), noted that, according to some studies, the roles of regional fishery bodies had gradually evolved beyond their original advisory functions during the Twentieth Century. This evolution had gained impetus since the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the recent international agreements and initiatives, notably the FAO Compliance Agreement, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. A number of processes had been underway to strengthen the roles of regional fishery bodies in the conservation and management of living marine resources.
18. In this regard, the First Meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies in 1999 concluded that there was a need to measure the performance of regional fishery bodies in sustainable fisheries and environmental management and resulting benefits for their respective members. The Secretariat advised that document FI: RFB/II/2001/3, prepared in response to the above conclusion, set out a general framework of indicators against which the performance of RFBs in meeting their mandates and responsibilities might be measured. It concluded that performance assessment would need to take account of the wide differences in the mandates and roles of RFBs and the varying degree of their evolution. For this reason, the document could not make any specific recommendations but only gave a basis for general review of performance evaluation and indicators in those various areas. It was pointed out that some of the indicators of governance contained in Technical Guidelines No. 8 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries could also be used for this purpose.
19. In conclusion, the Secretariats of RFBs were asked whether: (i) the development of indicators and reference points for regional fisheries was considered timely and opportune; and (ii) whether there was a need to start a process to elaborate further material in this respect.
20. Most representatives were of the view that evaluation was a matter for the RFB itself, that it might enhance the performance of RFBs and that some kind of indicators of performance would be useful in this respect. The participants found the paper prepared by the Secretariat provided a good general set of criteria for the self-evaluation. However, many participants were also of the view that the general definition of an indicator framework for RFBs was quite complex and that the issue needed to be further studied/discussed within their own regional fishery bodies. Some participants suggested that the results of this thought be further discussed at subsequent meetings of regional fishery bodies and arrangements.
21. Participants exchanged experiences on existing performance assessment methods. It was indicated, for instance, that some Secretariats outputs were self-assessed when reviewing work programmes and budgets, or when deciding on the re-appointment of the Secretaries. One participant indicated that, in addition, external auditors had been used to review the corporate plan of the body.
22. Most participants indicated that evaluation of the performance of members of RFBs was more challenging and sensitive. For example, it was suggested that the level of budget/financing and the rate of attendance at meetings could be an indicator of members commitment. However, it was noted that some developing countries meeting attendance might reflect a lack of financial means rather than a lack of interest in the bodys activities. The effectiveness of inspection schemes and the degree of compliance by members with fisheries management decisions were also mentioned as a means of performance evaluation. In most cases, it was felt that quantitative assessments of performance of members could be difficult.
23. Some participants indicated that a number of indicators were already in use. In the Baltic Sea, indicators of sustainable development were regularly evaluated covering the biological (e.g. spawning stock biomass, fishing mortality, recruitment), economic (e.g. landing per country, fishing effort, average per caput consumption) and social (e.g. full time fishermen per country) dimensions of fisheries.
24. While supporting in principle the need to develop performance indicators and related guidelines, participants stressed that, in view of the various nature (in term of mandate, species coverage, economic situation of members, governance systems, etc.) of regional fishery bodies, it was difficult to establish indicators which were generally applicable to all of RFBs. It was also pointed out that the costs of some evaluation methods such as external audits or formal quality control systems (such as ISO 9000) could prove onerous.