148. The Committee reviewed document COFI/83/13. It was advised that, in the formulation of the strategies and priority programmes for fisheries for the biennium 1984/85, the Secretariat had taken into account fully the directives of the governing bodies of the Organization as well as the recommendations of the FAO Regional Conferences and sessions of regional fishery bodies.
149. The Committee was informed that the Programme and Finance Committees, at their most recent sessions, had expressed their unanimous support for the Director-General's proposed Programme of Work and Budget for the biennium 1984/85. The strategies and activities in fisheries, proposed for implementation in the next biennium, including the level of budget, were fully endorsed.
150. The Committee was informed that the Director-General had endeavoured to implement measures of economy which included the reduction of administrative costs of the Organization while maintaining its capacity to implement programmes of activity in response to the needs of Member Countries.
151. Regarding the level of budget, the Committee noted that the overall net increase of the proposed budget of the Organization amounted to only 0.5 percent over that of the previous biennnium. For Major Programme 2.2: Fisheries, the net increase for the forthcoming biennium would be 1.97 percent over the present biennium, representing a considerable increase as compared with the budget of the Organization as a whole. The Committee noted further that, with cost increase added, the proposed budget for fisheries would be approximately 25 percent higher than the budget approved for the 1982/83 biennium.
152. The Committee pointed out that the additional provision for fisheries work might permit an early start to be made on the Action Programmes eventually recommended by the Policy Phase of the World Fisheries Conference, pending the mobilization of the larger scale funding required.
153. The Committee agreed that the long-term goals of the FAO programmes in fisheries should be to assist Member Countries in their individual and collective efforts to bring about the optimal utilization of their fishery resources and to achieve self reliance in the development and conservation of these renewable resources. The Committee fully supported the proposals for the fisheries programme and concurred that the strategies and priorities, as contained in the proposed Programme of Work and Budget for fisheries in 1984/85, reflected the major needs for the development of world fisheries.
154. The Committee recognized four major factors which had clearly influenced the proposals: the new legal regime of the oceans with extended national jurisdiction over marine resources; the widening gap between supply and demand for fisheries products at affordable prices; the rising costs of fishing operations and the need to support small-scale artisanal fisheries through the improved management and development of capture marine and inland fisheries, and aquaculture.
155. The essential role of information and statistics in fisheries development and management and in the transfer and adaptation of appropriate technology to developing countries was stressed by the Committee. In this respect, it recognized FAO's leading role in the United Nations system in providing information on fisheries to the world community. It expressed its support for the continued and expanded activities of the Aquatic Science and Fisheries Information System (ASFIS).
156. As regards fishery data and statistics, the Committee recommended that every effort be made to improve the quality and reliability of data inputs which require the improvement of national fisheries statistical systems. It commended FAO's increased efforts to strengthen national capabilities in this field and noted with appreciation that technical backstopping would be provided in the use of computers for specific activities such as the time series analysis and the analyses of survey results.
157. While appreciating the scope and quality of FAO's documentation in fisheries such as technical reports, manuals, etc., the Committee recommended that FAO should use all means possible to keep Member Countries fully informed of the wide range of such documentation which it published and to ensure its timely issuance, thus facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology to Member Countries. It was also recommended that FAO's “Fisheries Country Profiles” be regularly updated and published. It was noted that precise information about FAO publications as well as its activities and achievements was useful to national governments in their justification of FAO budgets.
158. The Committee suggested that some priority among the fisheries programmes be given to Programme 2.2.2: Fisheries Exploitation and Utilization.
159. Noting that several stocks of conventional fish species had been fully exploited and that some had been overfished, the Committee attached great importance to the conservation and management of fishery resources. It noted with appreciation that FAO had increased its emphasis on the assessment of multispecies coastal and inshore fish stocks which supported the livelihood of millions of small-scale fishermen. It supported the ongoing activities in the review of the state of the world fishery resources. In this connexion, the Committee recommended that FAO increase its efforts in the development of low-cost methodologies and technologies easily applied to the appraisal of the state of fish stocks by developing countries.
160. Recognizing the important role of inland fisheries and aquaculture in food production and food security, particularly for rural populations, the Committee fully supported FAO's effort in these areas and recommended that greater provision be made for these important sectors of fisheries. These would include technical assistance in the formulation of national strategies for aquaculture development, the management of inland waters, mangrove forests and coastal lagoons and the evaluation of the effects of pollution on the fishery resources.
161. The Committee noted the widening gap between the supply and demand of fish as food, which deficit, it had been estimated might be more than 20 million metric tons by the turn of this century. It therefore gave full support to the proposals that FAO intensify its efforts to develop suitable means of utilizing less familiar and non-conventional species as food for direct human consumption. The ongoing activities related to fish technology development with a view to reducing the prevailing high wastage also received full support. The Committee suggested that more attention should be given to the role of fisheries in the context of World Food Security.
162. The Committee took note of the proposed activities in the area of international trade in fish and fishery products. Its views and recommendations in this respect are stated in the preceding section of this Report.
163. In endorsing the proposed activities of FAO in the field of small-scale fisheries development the Committee re-emphasized the essential role of fisheries training and extension services. It noted with satisfaction that a new post of Fishery Training Officer to be engaged in the planning and implementation of training activities in small-scale fisheries, particularly in the area of extension services, had been included in the proposed Programme of Work and Budget for fisheries for the next biennium.
164. The Committee recognized the importance of the range of activities carried out under Programme 2.2.3: Fisheries Policy. It noted that there would be a continuing need for FAO to provide assistance to those countries that so requested through participation in EEZ fishery policy and planning missions, the economic analysis of fishery development options, studies of development and management systems for small-scale fisheries, training, etc., which already featured in the Programme's present activities.
165. The Committee observed that during the present biennium the Fisheries Department had several vacant posts. Notwithstanding the prevailing financial constraints of the Organization, the Committee recommended that these posts be filled as soon as practicable in order to ensure the smooth and efficient implementation of the various activities as envisaged.
166. The role of regional offices in supporting Headquarters' activities was mentioned. The Committee was of the opinion that, in addition these offices could also render services to the regional fishery bodies and projects in their respective regions. Some delegations suggested the great importance of striving at economy and efficiency within the regional offices.
167. The Committee recognized the valuable role of the FAO regional fishery bodies in assisting Member Countries, upon request, to develop and manage their fisheries, particularly since these countries are now faced with additional opportunities and obligations under the new regime of extended maritime jurisdiction. It requested FAO to provide adequate administrative servicing and technical backstopping in order to strengthen the activities or these bodies. Bearing in mind that effective implementation of their activities would depend upon additional support from extra-budgetary resources, the Committee appealed to donor countries and funding agencies to also consider rendering adequate financial support to these bodies. Member Countries were also requested to endeavour to mobilize additional funds from prospective donors and financial institutions for the same purpose.
168. The Committee was satisfied with the close integration between the Regular and Field Programmes in fisheries. It emphasized the essential role of the Field Programme with technical backstopping from the Regular Programme in assisting developing countries to improve their capabilities in fisheries development and management. In this connexion the Committee noted that it was not FAO's role to monitor progress in the management and development of fisheries in Member Countries, but rather to assist and support efforts in this direction and to keep itself informed as to results in this direction. Noting with concern the declining trend in the delivery of field projects in fisheries, the Committee urged FAO, the recipient countries and donor countries/agencies to mutually seek suitable solutions to rectify this constraint. The Committee also recommended that FAO should take all necessary measures to make greater use of experts from the developing countries in the implementation of its regional and national fisheries projects.
169. The Committee considered this item on the basis of document COFI/83/14 which was supplemented by an introduction from the Secretariat.
170. The Committee recalled that the Director-General's Special Action Programme for the development and management of fisheries in the exclusive economic zones was launched in 1979 in response to the Committee's request to help coastal nations meet the challenges of changes foreseen by the then continuing Law of the Sea Conference. Since the last session of the Committee, ten EEZ policy and planning missions have been undertaken in response to specific requests from developing coastal states. Under the auspices of the Programme, assistance was also given on request to twenty-six countries on legal aspects of fisheries management and development. This assistance concentrated on the revision of fisheries legislation in the light of recent extensions of jurisdiction.
171. The Programme has continued to give special attention to monitoring, control and surveillance. Assistance in this field was given in collaboration with regional fisheries development programmes such as the South China Sea, the Eastern Central Atlantic and the South West Indian Ocean Programmes.
172. Global activities such as those carried out by the R/V DR FRIDTJOF NANSEN and the Tuna Resources Development and Management Project continued to form an essential part of the Programme providing an information base essential to the rational development and management of world fisheries in and outside exclusive economic zones.
173. The Secretariat also informed the Committee on the long-term studies that had been prepared during the period under review on fisheries strategies, principles of management, management of nearshore tropical fisheries, conditions of access, straddling stocks in waters of the continental shelf in certain areas of the South-West Atlantic and the regulation of fishing effort. These studies which have been the subjects of special consultations were part of the FAO's activities in preparation for the Technical Phase of the World Fisheries Conference.
174. The countries which have received assistance from the EEZ Programme either through policy and planning missions, advice on legal aspects of fisheries management or monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activities acknowledged the significant contribution of the Programme to the management and development of their fisheries. They noted with appreciation the prompt response given by FAO to their request for assistance. Several countries underlined the continuing need for policy and planning missions in view of the changing conditions in many EEZs.
175. The importance of the work being carried out under the monitoring, control and surveillance component of the Programme was emphasized. Assistance should continue to be provided on request both to individual countries and in the context of supporting regional cooperation. The subject was of particular importance for groupings of small developing island states faced with the problems of establishing cost-effective controls over large areas of waters within their EEZ.
176. The Committee was appreciative of the long-term studies undertaken under the auspices of the Programme. These studies have been very important in stimulating and guiding the discussions of the Committee. Early publication of all these studies was requested.
177. The Committee strongly supported the continuation of the Programme. A suggestion was made that the scope of the Programme be widened to include the search for solutions to problems of fishery management in large inland water bodies bordering between two or more countries. These problems include shared stocks, cooperative research and protection of the environment. Following this suggestion it was emphasized that problems related to such inland waters are of a similar and as urgent nature as those of marine fisheries.
178. The Committee unanimously expressed its sincere appreciation to the Government of Norway for the generous support it had given to the Programme over the years.
179. This item was introduced by the Secretariat on the basis of document COFI/83/15 and COFI/83/15 Add.1. There was considerable support in principle for the general aims of the plan. However, it was stressed that this was a very complex issue, and that there had been a number of developments since the present draft of the plan was presented to the Fourteenth Session of COFI in 1981. It would therefore be necessary to undertake some updating and certain modifications of the plan as it was implemented, and in undertaking these modifications due account would be taken of the written and oral comments of Member Governments.
180. In view of the current financial situation, particular concern was expressed that there should be no duplication of efforts with existing governmental and non-governmental organizations. Also FAO was asked to establish priorities within this project and to consider the relative importance of this work within its overall fisheries programme. The Committee was assured that the only FAO resources used would be staff from the Regular Programme.
181. The responsibilities of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the conservation and management of whales was underlined. Many delegations also stressed the sovereign rights and responsibilities of coastal states in respect of reserves within their EEZs. At the same time, it was emphasized that within its mandate for world food production, FAO had an important and unique role in connexion with the conservation, and rational utilization of marine mammals.
182. Conservation, management and rational utilization depends on good scientific advice, and the strong element of research in the plan was therefore welcomed. The Committee also stressed the importance of training local scientists in developing countries and noted with appreciation the establishment, within the National Aquatic Research Agency of Sri Lanka, of a marine mammal unit, which could serve a regional function in the Indian Ocean as well as the offer by the delegation from Uruguay to share their experience in seal management.
183. Several delegations noted that marine mammals were a valuable resource for human food in some countries, but that any harvesting should be based on good scientific advice available. At the same time, the importance of non-consumptive uses of marine mammals (e.g., benign research including behaviour studies, whale watching and tourism) should not be overlooked, and the deliberations of the 1983 Boston Conference on the non-consumptive uses were mentioned. Countries bordering the Indian Ocean stressed the value of the Indian Ocean sanctuary for the conservation of marine mammals, which was the world's largest natural resource reserve.
184. The importance of knowing more about the nature and extent of the interaction between marine mammals and fisheries was mentioned, and the initiative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and FAO in this matter was welcomed. Appreciation was also expressed at the action that had been taken in the eastern Pacific to reduce the incidental kill of porpoises in the tuna purse-seine fishery. Should problems of incidental killing in the course of purse-seining operations occur in the Indian Ocean it could be possible to monitor them.
185. The Committee noted with appreciation the expression of interest by the observers from IUCN and IWC in collaborating in the implementation of the plan, and also of the PCSP with reference to the stocks of marine mammals in the Southeast Pacific.