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1. The sixth session of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 30 June to 3 July 2003, under the Chairmanship of Mr Antonio Caminas, Chairperson of SAC.

2. The Session was attended by delegates from 14 Members of the Commission as well as by observers from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The list of delegates and observers is given in Appendix B to this report.

3. Mr John Bikos, Vice-Prefect of Thessaloniki, welcomed the delegates and expressed the wish the Committee will provide advice that would contribute to responsible fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea and its adjacent areas. Ms Angeliki Kallara, Head of Section, General Directorate for Fisheries, made a statement on behalf of the Director-General of Fisheries of Greece in which she highlighted the important role of sub-regional and regional fisheries organizations and arrangements for effective conservation and management of fisheries on a sustainable basis and urged all Members of the Committee to cooperate to ensure that useful advice is given to the Commission.

4. On behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Dr Jacques Diouf, and Mr Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General, FAO Fisheries Department, Mr B.P. Satia, Chief, International Institutions and Liaison Service, Fisheries Departement, stressed the importance of this session in view of major changes in the fisheries in the Mediterranean basin which require a shift in research emphasis. He reminded that the Commission, at its Twenty-third Session in 1998, had entrusted SAC with the technical and scientific functions of GFCM and that the Committee had undertaken these tasks in a very encouraging manner. He pointed out that participation at most meetings was not very encouraging. In view of the potential negative impact of such a phenomenon on the advice given by SAC to the Commission, he urged the Committee to carefully review the matter. He encouraged the Committee to give special attention to certain problems arising from the subsequent shift of emphasis in fisheries activities in the areas covered by the GFCM Agreement. He urged the Committee to provide guidance on ways to improve information on status and trends of capture fisheries, to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to adopt the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF). Mr Satia pointed out that regional projects, regional fisheries bodies and regional institutions constitute the pillars of SAC and that therefore the collaboration between SAC and these structures should continue to be strengthened.

5. The Committee noted the absence of Mr Alain Bonzon, Secretary of GFCM, and extended to him its wishes for a speedy recovery.

6. Mr Satia served as the Secretary of the Committee.

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