63. The Committee reaffirmed its commitment to advancing the coverage, conduct, pace and delivery of fisheries and aquaculture research at the global level through FAO. It agreed that its mandate of advising the Director-General on the formulation and execution of the Organization's Programme of Work in respect of all aspects of fishery research had been well-served by the inter-sessional activities of the Fisheries Department that had stemmed from agreements at the First Session, including the conduct and results of the Working Parties and the reports to this Session. It further extended its appreciation to the participation of the Working Parties, both those who had prepared for and attended their sessions and the remote participants who had contributed through the e-mail conferences.
64. The Committee noted that routine communications among its members, and between members and the Fisheries Department during intersessional periods, would greatly enhance the Committee's value to FAO. It also noted that it would like to be informed of and given the opportunity to comment on programmes or projects with a science component at any appropriate point of their inception or implementation cycle. To properly fulfil its mandate, the Committee requested the Fisheries Department to facilitate more regular communications and status reports. It further requested the Director-General to convene the Third Session of the Committee in December 2000 to enable consideration of the important research issues that it would submit to COFI in February 2001, and in so doing to effect a re-alignment of the ACFR sessions to be prepared to submit to COFI in subsequent years.
65. The Committee recognized the large number of activities being conducted by the Fisheries Department but it expressed concern that the Fisheries Department might be spread too thin to fulfil all these tasks with current resources. The Committee further noted that the difficulty facing the Fisheries Department in coping with its growing workload when COFI could add to the priorities of the Fisheries Department without explicitly adding resources or deleting other priorities. Nevertheless, the Fisheries Department must prioritize its work or the overall high standard of quality that it had received to date would be jeopardized.
66. The Committee further considered its mandate to react and contribute to a review of programmes and determined that it was not constituted to conduct detailed technical reviews of programmes and projects. In this circumstance, the Committee suggested that the future role of ACFR should include the identification of periodic specialized and technically-orientated reviews and to offer recommendations on the ways that these should be conducted, including their objectives, terms of reference and participants.
67. In the light of the development of FAO's Strategic Framework and the Fisheries Department planning for that, the Committee noted that it no longer considered an exercise in Strategic Planning to be necessary for the Third Session of ACFR, as envisaged at the First Session. The Committee further noted that at the Third Session it could assist in setting Research Programme and Project priorities in relation to the framework.
68. The Committee regretted that it did not have the time to address comprehensively the important issues of inland fisheries and aquaculture. It noted the clear differences between these fishery sectors and recommended that greater attention should be paid to them, including adoption of different treatments, noting that aquaculture also included this practice in the marine environment.
69. In relation to inland fisheries, the Committee noted the determination in the report of the Twenty-third Session of COFI that there was a need for integrated resource management for sustainable inland fish production in pursuit of human nutrition and poverty alleviation, particularly in rural areas. It also noted that basic scientific knowledge, research methodologies and management techniques lagged behind that available for marine fisheries and that the Fisheries Department should seek ways to advance research in freshwater fishery resources, particularly in relation to small-scale fisheries.
70. The Committee noted the growing importance of aquaculture to world fish supplies, in particular for food security in less-developed countries. The Committee further recognized the opportunity presented by the NACA/FAO Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium to be held in February 2000 (and the subsequent Expert Consultation) to address this diverse subject, and encouraged it to consider all the environmental and scale settings in which aquaculture operated, in particular addressing the special interests of small-scale activities in freshwater and marine aquaculture.
71. The Committee recommended that work should begin at the earliest opportunity to seek opinions on and develop a framework for the setting of medium-term research priorities for freshwater and marine aquaculture. In particular, the Committee encouraged the Fisheries Department to use the opportunity of the NACA/FAO Conference to gain general support for the initial functioning and organization of this research. It further requested the Fisheries Department to conduct this work within a schedule that would meet the requirements for contribution to the submission to the Twenty-fourth Session of COFI in 2001 of the proposal for the establishment of a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture.
72. The Committee further noted that small-scale fisheries and small-scale aquaculture in marine, brackish and freshwater environments generally received less research attention than merited by their relative contribution to nutrition, food security and sustainable livelihoods. It requested that the Fisheries Department pay special attention to presenting their research work in these areas at the Third Session of ACFR.
73. The Committee noted the importance of continuing the development of approaches to Participatory Research methods in all fisheries but emphasized that its applicability depended on the nature of the problem addressed, and it should be viewed as a complementary technique in the continuum of research methodologies and not as a substitute for formal scientific methods.
74. The Committee recognized that the major advances in the technology for managing and delivering information embraced by the Fisheries Department had been a very positive step. However, it also noted that particular consideration should be given to making sure the information was well suited to the needs of people in less-developed countries concerned with small-scale fisheries.
75. The Committee drew particular attention to the issue of fishing rights as a fundamental aspect of fisheries management and urged that further attention be paid to methodological, analytical and descriptive research into the nature and applicability of fishing rights and the benefits that could be gained from their application in fisheries management.
76. The Committee appreciated the preliminary work conducted on the issues of fisheries trade and benefits and recommended that this be continued using the recommendations in Appendix J.
77. The Committee agreed to recommend to the Director-General continuation of the activities of the three Working Parties, including the revised and enhanced directions described elsewhere in this report (see paragraphs 19 and 20). In particular, the Committee emphasized the importance of establishing an International Plan of Action for Status and Trends Reporting in Fisheries as a means to enhancing advice to the Director-General and COFI of the most up-to-date and accurate view of the prospects for maintaining or enhancing fish production.
78. In summary, the Committee noted that the emphasis for the next session would be on a review of its intersessional activities, a review of small-scale fisheries, inland fisheries and aquaculture; review and finalization of the draft International Plan of Action for Status and Trends Reporting and Fisheries Department research programme and project priority setting.