51. This agenda item was introduced by the Chairman of the first Session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture and the Secretariat, and was discussed on the basis of documents COFI/2003/6 and COFI/2003/Inf.11. The Committee endorsed the report of the Sub-Committee and thanked the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Italy for hosting and supporting the first Session. The Committee further appreciated the excellent work of the Sub-Committee and the Secretariat.
52. The Committee recognized the importance of aquaculture as a means to increase fishery production, to generate income and foreign exchange, to help restore and relieve pressure on wild populations, to alleviate poverty, to increase food security and to provide for diversification of employment. Many Members have identified the potential of aquaculture and have placed a high priority on its development. There was strong consensus that aquaculture development should be undertaken in an environmentally sustainable manner in line with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and to ensure public health, food safety and quality.
53. The Committee acknowledged that the expertise of FAO will be critical in developing science-based standards for the responsible development of aquaculture from culture to the finished products. Many Members expressed concern regarding the insufficient level of funding for aquaculture activities within FAO and the Committee agreed with the recommendation of the Sub-Committee that additional resources should be allocated to aquaculture in order to implement the recommendations of the Sub-Committee. Increased funds would come from either: i) additional funds to the Fisheries Department overall which would then be allocated to aquaculture, or ii) through increased allocation of funds within the Fisheries Department to aquaculture. Several Members proposed referring the work plan developed by the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture back to the Sub-Committee for its review and to set priorities now that the proposed activities have been costed. Many Members stated that funding should come mainly from regular programme sources, although external donor support will be important. In this regard the offer of Japan to create a Trust Fund for Aquaculture Development was appreciated.
54. The Committee agreed to further discuss issues related to prioritization and additional financial resources for aquaculture activities under agenda item 12 dealing with the FAO Programme of Work and Budget.
55. Members noted that the Sub-Committee should work in harmony with the Sub-Committee on Trade to avoid duplication of activities, and should be an important global forum for technical and institutional issues on aquaculture to ensure long-term sustainability of the sector.
56. The Committee noted the work of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific (NACA). Several Members expressed their interest in the establishment of similar mechanisms in the Americas and Pacific Islands and requested the relevant support of FAO for this purpose.
57. Some Members called for technical assistance for the promotion of aquaculture in Africa because it was developing slowly on the continent.
58. The Committee supported continuation of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture and thanked Norway for its offer to host the second Session in Norway from 7 to 11 August 2003. The Committee noted that the USA was considering the possibility of hosting the third Session of the Sub-Committee.