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PROGRESS REPORT ON THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES AND RELATED INTERNATIONAL PLANS OF ACTION


20. The Secretariat introduced document COFI/2001/3 outlining the activities undertaken by FAO to support the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the International Plans of Action (IPOAs). The introduction also addressed the activities and applications undertaken at the national level, the initiatives by regional fisheries management organizations, and actions by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In the introduction the Secretariat noted that progress was being made in the implementation of the Code of Conduct but on the information available to FAO it was difficult to draw firm conclusions as to how successful countries had been in implementing the Code of Conduct. In discussion of the item Members were encouraged to highlight difficulties they were encountering in implementing the Code of Conduct and the IPOAs.

21. The Committee acknowledged the role played by the Code of Conduct in promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. The linkage between improved conservation and management and utilization within the fisheries sector was also recognized as critical in supporting national policies directed towards enhanced food security and the creation and maintenance of social and economic opportunities.

22. Many Members described their experiences in implementing the Code of Conduct and the IPOAs and indicated that it would be highly beneficial if information about these experiences were shared, especially for countries that had not yet started to implement the IPOAs. Members stressed the importance of the involvement of stakeholders in the implementation process and that industry, in particular, could play a leading and prominent role. In small-scale fisheries, a broad-based participatory approach involving fishing communities was indispensable in achieving sustainable outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture.

23. The Committee noted that the implementation of the post-harvest provisions of the Code of Conduct had been relatively slow by FAO and Member countries. It further noted that FAO could play an important role in facilitating international dialogue to examine mechanisms such as information exchange and verification that would contribute to enhancing responsible post-harvest practices.

24. Many Members stated that the provisions of the Code of Conduct formed the basis for policy development and the revision of national fisheries legislation. In most cases this action was in recognition of the importance of responsible fisheries and aquaculture to sustainable development. Some Members expressed their desire to use such policy initiatives to promote a culture of responsible fisheries.

25. With regard to the implementation of the IPOA-Capacity, general appreciation was expressed of the actions of those Members who effectively implemented the IPOA-Capacity.

26. Other Members reported on the methodological challenges and lessons learned in carrying out an assessment of their fishing capacity.

27. The Committee noted that one Member, in cooperation with others, promoted responsible tuna fisheries through the purchase and scrapping of large-scale "flag-of-convenience" tuna longline vessels in the world in accordance with the requirement stipulated in the IPOA.

28. The Committee noted the growing importance of aquaculture development in many countries. Some Members indicated that aquaculture production was assuming a role of increasing importance and that its development should be pursued within a responsible framework. In promoting aquaculture, FAO was urged not to overlook those countries that historically did not practice aquaculture but which had suitable conditions for its development.

29. FAO was commended for the manner in which it was continuing to promote the implementation of the Code of Conduct and to disseminate information about it. However, some Members noted the need to reach all fishing communities in a more effective manner. In this connection, Members highlighted the continued need for awareness-building about the Code, including regional and national workshops, as appropriate, and the preparation of promotional materials. Some countries mentioned the awareness raising role played by NGOs and other groups in fostering an understanding of the Code in fishing communities.

30. Several Members indicated the important role of regional fisheries management organizations in the effective implementation of the Code of Conduct. In this context some Members strongly requested the extension of certain regional projects such as COPEMED and the Dr Fridtjof Nansen programme that had contributed effectively to the application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the Mediterranean and Northwest and South-West African regions.

31. Members commented that the guidelines prepared by FAO in support of the application of the Code of Conduct were important aids in facilitating its implementation. The Committee took note that regional and national guidelines in support of implementation had also been elaborated. Some developing Member countries drew attention to the need to ensure that the FAO guidelines addressed developing country issues since these countries were intended as the primary recipients of such guidelines.

32. The Committee recognized that institutional strengthening and capacity-building in developing countries was of high priority if the Code of Conduct and the IPOAs were to be implemented effectively and in a timely manner. The Committee noted the offer of some Members to share experience in the implementation of the Code and its related IPOAs with other Members. It also noted the special needs of small island developing States (SIDS) in their efforts to meet their responsibilities with respect to implementation.

33. Some Members referred to the World Bank's initiative in fisheries, including the Forum for Sustainable Fisheries (FSF), which in cooperation with FAO could provide a mechanism to assist developing countries in strengthening their capacity in responsible fisheries management and called upon Members to encourage the World Bank to continue its collaboration with FAO on this important issue. Other Members called on FAO to provide the technical guidance and capacity strengthening through its field programmes, independent of initiatives by other organizations.

34. Many Members from developing countries referred to the constraint of a lack of financial and technical resources to support the implementation of the Code and the IPOAs. While noting that valuable technical assistance was already being provided by some donors and FAO, many Members called upon the international donor community and FAO, as provided for in Article 5 of the Code, to strengthen existing partnerships and to continue to provide the necessary technical assistance to overcome the technical and financial constraints identified.

35. Several Members highlighted support received from FAO Trust Fund Projects especially those listed in Annex 2 of document COFI/2001/3 and expressed the hope that such assistance would continue and increase.

36. Several Members considered that the use of access rights in fisheries management was useful for improved management efficiency and the control of fishing capacity. The Committee agreed that the characteristics of artisanal, multi-species and small-scale fisheries should be especially recognized while developing an approach to this issue. In this regard some Members requested FAO to follow up on the outcome of the Conference on the Use of Property Rights in Fisheries Management, held in Fremantle, Australia, in 1999.

37. The Committee agreed that in future reporting on the application of the Code and the related IPOAs, more in-depth analysis of problems associated with its efficient implementation should be carried out on the basis of appropriate case studies and ensuring adequate regional coverage.

38. The Government of Iceland made a presentation to the Committee on the Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem which was scheduled to take place in Reykjavik, Iceland, from 1 to 4 October 2001. The Conference was being organized jointly by the Government of Iceland and FAO with co-sponsorship by the Government of Norway. Iceland noted that the objectives of the Conference were linked clearly to Article 6.4 of the Code of Conduct. The main objectives of the Conference were to:

The Reykjavik Conference was open to all FAO Members and information concerning the Conference was available on a web site: www.refisheries2001.org. The Committee welcomed the opportunity offered by the Reykjavik Conference to address matters related to ecosystem-based fisheries management.

39. Many Members requested FAO to conduct studies on the relationship between marine mammals and fisheries. Other Members, however, commented on the issues and complexity of ecosystem-based fisheries management, urging that caution be exercised in drawing definitive conclusions with respect to the impact of predator/prey relationships on fisheries as a number of environmental and human factors also contributed to the status of particular fisheries. The Committee agreed that such studies and reviews by FAO should be conducted to encompass these characteristics in particular interaction between marine mammals and fisheries.

40. While discussing matters relating the implementation of the Code of Conduct some delegates brought to the attention of the Committee several issues including eco-labelling subsidies and coral reefs. It was agreed to discuss these issues under the relevant Agenda items.


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