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5. The Committee reviewed the activities undertaken by APFIC since the Twenty-sixth Session of the Commission (Beijing, People’s Republic of China, 24-30 September 1998) presented in document APFIC:ExCo/68/2.

6. A Special Session of APFIC was convened in Rome on 17 February 1999, in connection with the Twenty-third Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), to discuss and approve the terms of reference and workplan of the Ad hoc Legal and Financial Working Group established by the Commission at the Twenty-sixth Session. Subsequently, the meeting of this working group was convened by the Secretariat in Bangkok, Thailand, from 6 to 8 July 1999. The reports of the Special Session and the meeting of the working group were presented as document APFIC:ExCo/68/3 for further discussion under the next agenda item.

7. The meetings of the three ad hoc technical working groups of experts established by the Commission were also convened by the Secretariat in 1999. The reports of these working groups were given as documents APFIC:ExCo/68/Inf.6, 7 and 8.

8. The Ad hoc Working Group of Experts in Food Safety held its first meeting in Bangkok from 15 to 17 March 1999. The Working Group discussed issues concerning human parasitic infestation caused mainly by consumption of freshwater fish as well as food poisoning caused by pathogenic bacteria associated with fish products. In particular Trematodes, or liver flukes, and some pathogens were identified. The needs to study and control contamination of fish and fishery products in the region in order to protect the health of consumers and export markets were emphasized. As the result, three regional workshops were conducted, in collaboration with the Fish Utilization and Marketing Service (FIIU) of the FAO Fisheries Department and the Support Unit for International Fisheries and Aquatic Research (SIFAR), to develop research proposals for possible funding by donors.

9. The Ad hoc Working Group of Experts in Capture Fishery Data Collection convened its meeting in Bangkok from 7 to 9 September 1999. The Working Group reviewed national needs and international obligations for fishery data as well as the problems and constraints faced in collecting capture fishery statistics. The Working Group discussed the applicability of the new FAO Guidelines for the Routine Collection of Capture Fishery Data (document APFIC:ExCo/68/Inf.7, Add.1). The Working Group strongly concurred with the structural approach and framework of this Guidelines and recommended that APFIC should actively promote the implementation of routine data collection programmes in Member States. Case studies as applied to a particular fishery should be presented at a regional workshop to be convened by APFIC. Moreover, APFIC should convene a workshop on alternative approaches on non-routine data collection for small-scale marine and inland fisheries, including socio-economic and environmental aspects, in order to strengthen fishery data collection systems in the region.

10. The Ad hoc Working Group of Experts in Rural Aquaculture convened its meeting in Bangkok from 20 to 22 October 1999. The Working Group reviewed the concept and development experience in rural aquaculture. It was recognized that rural aquaculture could contribute to the improvement of the livelihood of the poor and to food security in rural areas. There is a need for adaptive research and extension strategies to develop integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems as well as a Code of Practice for Rural Aquaculture to raise awareness and farmer capacity. The Working Group recommended that an Ad hoc Working Group of Experts in Integrated Agriculture-Aquaculture Systems be established by APFIC to address these issues in more detail.

11. The Committee endorsed the reports of the working groups of experts.

12. In addition to the meetings of the ad hoc working groups of experts, the Secretariat had initiated a study on fisheries management frameworks in the Bay of Bengal which was endorsed by the Commission at the Twenty-sixth Session. The abolition of the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC) and its Committee for the Development and Management of Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal (BOBC) in June 1999 resulted in closer involvement of APFIC in this sub-region, as the functions of BOBC was transferred to APFIC by the FAO Council’s Resolution 1/116 (document APFIC:ExCo/68/Inf.10). Moreover, the Bay of Bengal Programme (GCP/RAS/150-151/DEN-JPN and GCP/RAS/117/MUL Projects of FAO) would be concluded in December 2000. Mechanism for regional cooperation on fisheries management in the Bay of Bengal is much needed.

13. The Committee was further informed that, in view of the abolition of IOFC, the participating countries of the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP) agreed to consider the possibility of establishing an intergovernmental organization for technical and management advisory services for fisheries development and management in the Bay of Bengal region (document APFIC:ExCo/68/Inf.11). They also requested FAO for support in the formulation and establishment of such organization. It was also noted that a new regional commission for the Gulf States has been established as the Regional Commission for Fisheries (RECOFI) to promote the development, conservation, rational management and best utilization of living marine resources as well as the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Gulf area.

14. The representative of Sri Lanka informed the Committee that his government would support the establishment of an intergovernmental organization for fisheries management and development in the Bay of Bengal. He expressed his appreciation for action taken by FAO on this initiative.

15. The Committee was informed that, for the East Asian Seas, FAO has initiated a study on marine resources, their states of exploitation and management in the People’s Republic of China. SEAFDEC has conducted fishery resources survey in the lower South China Sea. UNEP also prepared a review on the states of environment and exploitation of living resources in the South China Sea under the GEF South China Sea Project. The existing fisheries management frameworks of the countries bordering the South China Sea were reviewed by APFIC in 1997, in cooperation with the FAO Fisheries Department. It was pointed out that there are a number of key issues yet to be dissolved.

16. The Committee commended the Secretariat for the completion of various activities as directed by the Commission during the inter-sessional period.

17. The Committee directed that the reports of the working groups and the report on inter-sessional activities be submitted to the Commission at its next session.

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