30. The Secretariat introduced Agenda item 6 on the basis of document COFI:AQ/I/2002/4 which referred to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) with specific reference to its articles relating to aquaculture.
31. Delegates were invited to consider experiences and lessons learnt in the implementation of the Code with respect to aquaculture and culture-based fisheries and to advise on the role and function of FAO in addressing relevant issues. They were also requested to identify specific action to be taken by the FAO Fisheries Department, Members of FAO and regional and international organizations concerned with sustainable aquaculture development and the implementation of the Code.
32. Most delegates complimented the Secretariat on its succinct yet thorough presentation of the subject and expressed gratitude to FAO for the work carried out in promoting the implementation of the Code.
33. In their subsequent interventions, many delegates reiterated their support for the Code and shared experiences and lessons learnt in its implementation. Many indicated that their countries had translated the Code into local languages and widely distributed it to a variety of stakeholders and/or have undertaken other steps for its implementation.
34. The Sub-Committee noted that additional assistance was necessary in elaborating technical aspects in the implementation of the Code, dissemination and exchange of information, capacity-building, extension, education and training and networking along with intra- and inter-regional collaboration/cooperation including traditional knowledge. It further noted that mechanisms that ensure information delivery to grassroots producers, processors and consumers were not always functioning effectively in many countries. These difficulties could, at times, be magnified in countries where the institutional setting of, and responsibilities for, aquaculture were ambiguous, or overlapping. The Sub-Committee suggested that States establish appropriate institutional structures responsible for aquaculture.
35. The Sub-Committee reiterated the importance of regular reporting on the implementation of the Code and requested that the Sub-Committee receive specific aquaculture reports by Members with a comprehensive status report prepared by FAO. Reporting should cover both progress reports by member countries, summarizing progress in implementing the Code at the national level, as well as comprehensive status reports prepared by FAO for member countries that provide information compilation, analysis and feedback, particularly from past experience. It was stressed that these latter serve to encourage countries, individuals and all stakeholders in adopting the Code and enacting relevant legislation and policies to ensure its proper functioning. The Sub-Committee supported the FAO initiative of developing a data bank of national Codes and other useful material produced by organizations, including NGOs, to be made available to all member countries.
36. Most delegates strongly suggested that a series of environmental, social and economic risk assessment studies be undertaken by FAO as an impartial third party to establish reliable baseline information using the best scientific and technical knowledge available as to the composite risks that apply to the implementation of aquaculture operations and how these are regulated/monitored by various aspects of the Code. Results of such activities could dispel misinformation circulating regarding the purported risks associated with aquaculture and encourage governments to foster an enabling environment for the growth of the sector. One delegate suggested that for such studies specific activities to be undertaken should be identified in advance.
37. Assurance of health for both the environment and consumers of aquaculture products was identified as a key factor in developing sustainable aquaculture, particularly the proper use of chemicals and antibiotics. It was also pointed out that certification of best practices could serve to facilitate the expansion of global trade in aquaculture products. However, some delegates expressed concern about the possibility of its use as a non-tariff barrier to international trade. The Sub-Committee stated that the establishment of harmonized standards for quality and safety of aquaculture products should be based on available scientific evidence and would provide benchmarks for measuring impact and adherence to best practices. Wide acceptance of such standards could increase fair accessibility to world markets by a broader spectrum of producers. The Sub-Committee noted that harmonization with OIE standards is considered essential for successful international trade.
38. The Sub-Committee recognized several recent regional and international fora and related activities that had played significant roles in supporting the implementation of the Code. Among others, these included the 2nd International Symposium on Sea Ranching and Marine Stock Enhancement, the FAO/World Bank/NACA and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Consortium Programme on Shrimp Farming and the Environment and the development of Asia Regional Technical Guidelines on Health Management. The Sub-Committee underscored the need to promote and continue such activities.
39. The Sub-Committee further recognized the important role of socio-economic and regulatory aspects in responsible aquaculture development. It suggested that FAO should continue to address by a variety of activities those issues which constrain government decision-making processes. The Sub-Committee stressed the need for the increased involvement of producers in such activities.