95. The Review of the Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries was introduced by the Secretariat which clarified concepts and terms used in the two documents COFI/2003/11 and COFI/2003/12 as well as providing illustrative examples of priority settings in the Fisheries Department. It was pointed out that the Strategic Framework 2000–15 provides the authoritative framework for the Organization’s future programmes, which are developed through successive Medium Term Plans and Programmes of Work and Budget. The Medium Term is of rolling nature and will be updated every two years to reflect evolving contexts.
96. No major changes have been introduced in the Fisheries Programme for the Medium Term Plan. The Major Programme for Fisheries continued to give due prominence for the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the International Plans of Action (IPOAs) endorsed by COFI and the instruments which provide the framework for national policies to pursue responsible and sustainable development in fisheries and aquaculture. The Major Programme covers a broad range of advisory services related to the management, development, marketing and use of fisheries and aquaculture resources.
97. Relatively few changes have been introduced to the programme structure and no reallocations had taken place among programmes. It was underlined that the Medium Term Plan for the Fisheries Programme had been formulated under a growth scenario, and that it was likely that the approved budget for 2004–05 and beyond would be significantly lower in which case the programme of work would need to be adjusted accordingly.
98. Furthermore, it was emphasized that by the Secretariat that from 2006 onwards increased resources (amounting to US$ 4.2 million) had been requested by the Fisheries Department for funding of additional activities related to ecosystem considerations in fisheries and aquaculture which could not be implemented within the proposed budget of the Medium Term Plan.
99. The Secretariat advised the Committee that with expanded funding, part but not all of the funding required for the proposed programme of work of the Sub-Committtee on Aquaculture would be available.
100. Referring to the perpetual call by governing bodies for increased allocations to the Fisheries Programme and bearing in mind the highly important role of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its related instruments as explicitly cited in the WSSD 2002 Plan of Implementation, the Secretariat considered the growth scenario presented in the Medium Term Plan as a reasonably acceptable starting point for a progressive and well balanced Fisheries Programme.
101. The Secretariat informed about budgetary procedures related to the Medium Term Plan. It was stressed that the Medium Term Plan for 2004–2005 anticipated an 11 percent increase for Fisheries Department which reflects the preferential treatment given to the fisheries programme.
102. Many Members expressed their appreciation to the Secretariat for increased transparency in their reporting and planning documents in COFI/2003/11 and COFI/2003/12. Satisfaction was also expressed for the achievements of Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries during the last biennium despite restricted budgets. The Secretariat was requested to produce more reader friendly documents that focus on the more important issues of the PWB and called for increased emphasis on outcomes rather than on the record of activities.
103. Some Members identified the need to expand the sources of funding for the Fisheries Programme through partnerships or associations with other international organizations such as IFIs, GEF and IOC. The Secretariat noted there has already been some progress in this area.
104. Members expressed concern about priority settings and the real budget which would be made available for 2004–05. The Committee identified the following priority areas which are listed in no particular order:
The Committee stressed, as a matter of principle, that the priorities identified by COFI should be reflected in the PWB.
105. Although Members idendified work on ecosystem approach to fisheries management as a priority, many Members stressed the importance of studying the interactions between predators and prey, while other Members emphasized that the work referred to above should be holistic and address all the relevant aspects of the ecosystem. Some Members noted that the work on the interactions between predators and prey was not a priority.
106. It was recommended that deep sea fisheries should be included in the agenda at the next Session of COFI recognizing that these species require conservation and management at international level.
107. The Committee appreciated that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean presented a Declaration, which acknowledged FAO’s efforts in resource distribution, in particular for projects of development and generation of food, and which stressed that such resources and projects needed to be distributed equitably if they were to address the needs and priorities of all the regions of the world, especially those made up of developing countries. The Declaration stated that these regions needed the support of the international community, and of FAO in particular, to promote the development of sustainable fisheries and the generation of food, and recognized that there were specific areas of Latin American and Caribbean countries that required determined action on the part of the international community and FAO for poverty alleviation and to meet food requirements. In this connection, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean called for more equitable treatment in the allocation of resources and the promotion of development projects, both in the Programme of Work and Budget of the Fisheries Department, and from FAO in general.