14. The APFIC Secretary presented the document APFIC/LFWG/99/3 which outlined the current status of fisheries and aquaculture in the region. It was evident that most major inland and marine fishery resources were fully exploited. The major challenge facing marine fisheries is improved and responsible management of fish stocks and fisheries by adopting the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other international instruments and arrangements. For coastal, small-scale fisheries in the region, the promotion of traditional or community-based management practice is fostered as the most appropriate means of management. Noting high contributions from inland fisheries and aquaculture in the region, the major challenges would be finding ways and means to maintain and, where sustainable, enhance these contributions made to regional fish supplies. Nonetheless, the potential for further growth of aquaculture in the region is promising. Increased production could be achieved through expansion, intensification, diversification and latter integration of fish production into existing land and water use schemes.
15. In view of such challenges, the representative of the FAO Fisheries Department pointed out the urgent need to strengthen regional fishery bodies to meet these challenges effectively. He informed the Meeting that the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC) was terminated and its former functions in the Bay of Bengal were merged into APFIC by the recent FAO Councils Resolution 1/116 (Appendix E). The Commission therefore should be strengthened through support from its Members in order to be autonomous as in the case of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Similarly, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) has been initiating mechanism for contributions by its Member States. Other bodies are also developing similar arrangements. These were the general trends in meeting the challenges for better governance of fisheries worldwide.
16. The Working Group discussed current issues on fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region. Several members of the Working Group stressed the need to improve fishery statistics for better management. It was recognized that, although APFIC was not a regional fisheries management body as IOTC, the Commission could serve as a forum to facilitate information exchanges among its Members and to coordinate fishery activities of FAO and other international/regional bodies in the region.