30. The Working Group was informed by the FAO representative that FAO would continue to provide support to the APFIC Secretariat in carrying out its functions, but there were no significant prospects of substantial increase in the level of that support in the forthcoming years. As APFIC belongs to the Members and FAOs role is that of a facilitator and coordinator, the Member States of APFIC were requested to seriously consider the possibility of providing contributions to support the activities of the Commission in fulfilling its mandate.
31. The APFIC Secretary informed the Working Group that the Commission, at its Twenty-fifth Session in 1996, had discussed three possible options for contributions by the Members States to APFIC. However, at the Twenty-sixth Session in 1998, several Members were not prepared to support Option 1: Mandatory annual contributions from Members. Many delegations expressed their support in principle for Option 2: Voluntary contributions to a trust fund for specific projects, and Option 3: provision of travel expenses by the Members for their representatives at sessions of APFIC Committees and working groups.
32. To facilitate its further consideration of this important matter, the Commission unanimously agreed to establish this Working Group and directed that the Working Group should develop a self-sustaining financial mechanism under which APFIC would operate and manage its affairs more effectively. Taking into account the economic conditions of the Members. The Working Group should recommend the possible scheme and scale of contributions, legal and institutional arrangements as well as financial regulations of APFIC for further consideration by the Commission at its forthcoming Twenty-seventh Session in November 2000.
33. The Secretariat further informed the Working Group that, due to financial constraints and the existence of other specialized regional bodies/programmes in the region, the development of APFIC into a technical implementing management body was not recommended. However, APFIC could implement sub-regional/regional projects of mutual interest with the participating Member State on a cost-sharing basis, and in cooperation of FAO.
34. In the long-term, the Member States could consider the possibility of establishing an autonomous budget of APFIC as successfully implemented by IOTC. An example of such financial scheme, including provisional scheme and scale of contributions by the Member States was presented by the Secretariat as Doc. APFIC/LFWG/99/6 (Appendix H) for consideration by the Working Group.
35. The Working Group discussed at length on the proposed three options for possible contributions by the Member States to APFIC. Although some Members of the Working Group stated their willingness to provide annual contribution, subject to further discussion for the agreed scheme and scale of such contributions under Option 1, the majority of the Member States, however, indicated that they could consider providing voluntary contributions to support project activities of their interest (Option 2), but not annual assessed contributions to APFIC as proposed by the Secretariat.