Appendix C

Opening Statement by Z. Karnicki
on behalf of the Director-General of FAO and the Officer-in-Charge, Fisheries Department

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Mr Jacques Diouf, and the Officer-in-Charge, Fisheries Department, Mr David Harcharik, I welcome you to FAO Headquarters and to this Consultation on the Application of Article 9 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the Mediterranean Region, which will work on this important subject for the entire week.

In the first place, I would like to thank the Italian Government which has requested and funded generously the project which has allowed FAO to implement this Consultation on the Application of the Code of Conduct in the Mediterranean in the area of aquaculture development. Without this generous contribution it would have been very difficult for the Department to carry out a similar exercise. Italy, who is at present also the Chair of the Committee on Aquaculture of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, has also actively participated in the Steering Committee of this project.

I would also like to thank all of you who have found the time to attend this Consultation in spite of your multiple occupations, and in particular those who since more than a year have participated in this project through the preparation of the national reports.

As all of you know the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries represents the pillar and central reference point for the work of the FAO Fisheries Department. This Consultation is one of the most important steps implemented by FAO in the field of aquaculture to transform in specific actions the general principles of the Code of Conduct. Through this Consultation we hope to initiate a process of assistance, in various ways, to the member countries of the GFCM to adapt the principles of the Code to their specific characteristics.

The articles of the Code are general in nature since they were designed for a global context and it is necessary, as has been recognized by the Committee on Fisheries, to adapt them to the special characteristics of the various regions and to local realities. This does not mean the creation of different codes for the various regions or countries, but rather the local interpretation of the various articles of the Code.

Most of you have participated in the preparation of the national reports and are aware of the methodology followed by this project to assist the countries. We have tried to follow a logical approach providing support to local analysis through the preparation of the common detailed outlines for the national reports. This common format for reporting, although complex, has facilitated the preparation of a synthesis that you have received for review prior to the meeting. This synthesis should be a compendium of the views of the various countries participating in the exercise. From the synthesis here in FAO we have tried to distil the possible elements of action plans with the only purpose of facilitating your deliberations at this Consultation.

During the first session of the GFCM Committee on Aquaculture held in 1996, it was recognized that sustainable development of the sector requires the participation of all sectors concerned in the deliberations to establish policies and plans. Thus we have tried to ensure the participation in the preparation of the national reports and in the attendance to this Consultation of representatives of the public administration, academic sector and representatives of the producers. We value also the presence of NGOs as observers, who have in the past years been concerned with aspects of sustainability of development efforts.

Aquaculture is a rapidly growing sector in the Mediterranean, a semi-enclosed sea where both developed and developing countries live together. Such a situation creates special conditions for what refer to cultural affinities and the sense of belonging to a Mediterranean culture, the result of many centuries of co-existence. It has also important regional characteristics concerning marketing aspects. Thus the need to examine the region as a whole.

We have already noted in the year of work that has led to this Consultation, that the preparation of the national reports has been a valuable exercise. In several countries it initiated a process of concentration of actions with all sectors involved, to include the various views in the national reports. We in FAO have also learnt considerably from this exercise and from this initial experience which will also be useful for other regions of the world.

One of the obvious points is that the application of the Code of Conduct is mainly a national responsibility and therefore it is essential to have the political will to implement the Code. Without this will all the efforts of agencies like FAO would not bear much fruits and would not be sustainable in the long run. We have also found from this analysis that in the case of the Mediterranean, a degree of intercountry cooperation and regional activities could accelerate the process of adoption and avoid imbalances that could lead to undesirable situations. We hope that FAO can continue to assist its member countries in this process of adoption of the principles of the Code in the immediate future.

In the following days you will have the opportunity of discussing the synthesis and the elements for the action plans proposed in the document which has been prepared by the Secretariat based on the synthesis of national reports. However, for FAO, the most important output expected from this Consultation would be the results of your deliberations in the framework of the working groups to be established. They will address the evaluation of the elements proposed for action plans, the ranking of priorities to be established for future work, as well as the framework for this future work. Your decisions in these central sessions should provide an important framework both in a national context and for the FAO Regular Programme and its activities related to promotion of sustainable and responsible aquaculture in the Mediterranean. The Secretariat of the Consultation and the staff of the various technical divisions of the Fisheries Department will try to assist you in all possible ways during this week.

I hope that during this week of hard work, we will together make another step towards a sustainable future for Mediterranean aquaculture. I wish you very fruitful work.

Thank you very much.