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54. This agenda item was introduced by the Secretariat with additional clarification by the Chairman of the Expert Consultation on the proposed COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, and discussed on the basis of document COFI/2001/5. The Committee also had access to COFI/2001/Inf.8 (Report of the FAO Expert Consultation on the Proposed Sub-Committee which includes the Bangkok Declaration and Strategy on Aquaculture Development beyond 2000). The Committee noted past discussions concerning the establishment of the Sub-Committee and appreciated the recent work by the Secretariat in organizing and convening the Expert Consultation.

55. There was recognition of the increasingly important role that aquaculture was playing in global fish production, and food security by providing opportunities for economic development in Member States. Many Members noted the proactive role FAO had to play in responsible aquaculture development in collaboration with other centres of excellence. The Committee raised issues of common global concern on aquaculture development, such as environmental and economic implications, consumer and food safety aspects, interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries, the role of culture-based fisheries, sea ranching, general institutional and development needs for sustainable aquaculture management.

56. With regard to the establishment of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, discussions focused on the financial implications, terms of reference, issues to be addressed and areas of future work.

57. Concerning the financial implications, many Members stressed the necessity and urgency of establishing the Sub-Committee. They indicated that funding should preferably come from FAO's Regular Programme and urged that the Fisheries Department should be given a "real growth" budget allocation in the next biennium. Several Members expressed the view that the funding for the Sub-Committee from the Regular Programme budget should not be at the expense of other programmes of the Fisheries Department.

58. In order to reduce the financial burden on FAO's Regular Programme budget, China, Italy, Norway, and the United States of America made offers of financial assistance. The delegation of China offered to host the First Session of the Sub-Committee in conjunction with the meeting of the World Aquaculture Society and an international aquaculture exhibition in Beijing in April 2002, and opted to cover some of the local costs. The delegation of Norway offered support for the Second Session in Norway, also in conjunction with an international exhibition on aquaculture in August, 2003. Norway's support would include covering some net additional costs to the Secretariat (provision of technical secretariat, documentation, etc.), direct meeting costs (interpretation and translation, meeting facilities, etc.) and support for participation of some delegates from developing countries. The delegation of the United States of America offered to consult with the aquaculture industry with a view to hosting a subsequent session of the Sub-Committee and the delegation of Italy indicated that it would join international efforts to provide additional funding for the Sub-Committee. China acknowledged the offer of other Members to host subsequent meetings of the Sub-Committee and noted that the holding of the Sub-Committee's sessions in different countries would permit delegations to observe and share experiences from other areas.

59. There was general agreement on the terms of reference as outlined in document COFI/2001/5. However, there might be a need to clarify them further in the light of the development of the Sub-Committee. In order to ensure coverage of the needs of all Members it was recommended that the terms of reference should be kept flexible and should be revised as the aquaculture sector developed. The terms of reference for the Sub-Committee are given in Appendix E.

60. Several Members emphasized that the Sub-Committee should complement the work of regional fishery bodies, minimize duplication of effort and thus maximize resources. The observer from the Russian Federation requested FAO to consider the feasibility of his country becoming a member of the Sub-Committee.

61. The Committee unanimously agreed with the recommendation of the Expert Consultation that the priority areas to be addressed by the Sub-Committee should include aquaculture development, statistics, implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, environmental aspects of aquaculture development, regional cooperation, aquaculture management, aquaculture and coastal zone management, and national and regional aquaculture capacity building. Some Members stressed the importance of the Sub-Committee in analysing issues pertaining to safe aquaculture and technological development for cultivation of species.

62. The Committee agreed to establish the Sub-Committee, and gratefully acknowledged the offers from China, Norway, the United States of America and Italy to facilitate the convening of the sessions.

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