82. The Secretariat introduced the Agenda item on the basis of document COFI/2001/9. Attention was drawn to the conclusions and recommendations of the Report of the Expert Consultation on Economic Incentives and Responsible Fisheries (document FIPP/R638) that was held in Rome (28 November-1 December 2000) and to the papers presented (document FIPP/R638 Suppl.). Guidance was sought from the Committee on how the work of assessing the impacts of subsidies should be continued and what partnerships might be appropriate in the process.
83. The Committee appreciated the work undertaken by the Secretariat and noted the Report of the Expert Consultation as well as the conclusions and recommendations contained therein. Some Members felt that the Expert Consultation had raised more questions than answers. It noted, however, that further work remained to be done on this subject, particularly on matters relating to technical information regarding the nature of subsidies and their effects.
84. Some Members expressed concern over the use of subsidies in fisheries and that further work on the effects of such subsidies is an important issue that should be given priority by FAO.
85. The Committee agreed that future work on subsidies should build on past efforts and work towards determining the quantitative and qualitative effects of subsidies on trade in fish and fishery products and sustainability of fishery resources where the study of the trade aspect should be of a technical nature and be closely coordinated with the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the competent body for trade discipline. It was further agreed that work on this topic be closely coordinated with, and complementary to, the work being carried out by other relevant intergovernmental organizations and recommended that FAO, as a global multi-disciplinary organization, should take a lead role in the promotion of such cooperation and in the coordination of work on fisheries subsidies and the relationship with responsible fisheries.
86. The Committee agreed that a second Expert Consultation be organized by FAO but that substantial preparatory work, including an inventory of currently available and ongoing efforts, should first be carried out by the Secretariat. The Committee urged that the Consultation be comprised of a wider range of experts, having relevant practical and multidisciplinary experience in fisheries management and trade issues. In addition it should reflect a regional and topical balance of the issues to be considered. It was agreed that governments should be consulted in the selection of the experts.
87. Some Members emphasized the necessity to take into account the needs and conditions of developing countries and, in particular, the issues relating to differences between large- and small-scale or artisanal fisheries. Some Members also emphasized that, with respect to the matter of subsidies and trade, the Consultation should focus on the technical aspects of the policy debate.
88. The Secretariat informed the Committee that the resources required for holding the second Expert Consultation were not available in the current budget. Resources might be available in the 2002-2003 budget but the Secretariat would not know until November 2001, hence the Secretariat suggested that extra-budgetary funds might be needed for the purpose of a second Expert Consultation.
89. It was agreed that the Expert Consultation be followed by a Government Technical Consultation on the issue, in part as a means of quickly disseminating information on the matter both to Members and to other intergovernmental organizations.
90. As a complementary activity to address the fishery subsidy issue, one Member suggested that it would be useful to initiate meetings to study all factors affecting sustainability. While many Members agreed in principle with the proposal and it was also supported by some Members, it was generally felt that such efforts would duplicate much of the work already underway.