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INTERSESSIONAL ACTIVITIES 2002-2003


Implementation of the recommendations of the Twenty-seventh Session of GFCM

12. The Secretary of GFCM introduced this agenda item on the basis of documents GFCM/XXVIII/2003/Inf.3 and GFCM/XXVIII/2003/Inf.4. He reviewed the recommendations laid down in the Report of the Twenty-seventh Session and informed the Commission on follow-up actions undertaken for their implementation.

13. The Commission noted with satisfaction the action taken by the Secretariat, by SAC and by the Committee on Aquaculture (CAQ) on its recommendations. It however noted that no progress had been made by the EIFAC/GFCM Joint Working Group on the Management of Sturgeon and that, the identification of options for a GFCM logo was still pending. The Commission encouraged the Secretariat to continue updating the GFCM web-page (www.faogfcm.org).

14. The delegate from the European Community (EC) referred to GFCM Recommendation 2002/1 on the management of demersal and small pelagic resources and on follow-up by Members. He informed the Commission on action implemented under the Community legal framework, notably the approval of EC resolution 2371/02 and the proposal by the Commission of the European Union of a regulation concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea, which will be discussed within the European Council in the forthcoming month.

Report on the activities of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)

15. Mr. J-A. Camiñas, Chairperson of SAC, reported on the activities of the Committee on the basis of documents GFCM/XXVIII/2003/2 and GFCM/XXVIII/2003/Inf.5 and in relation to the Reference framework for the intersessional activities of SAC as appended in the Report of the Twenty-seventh Session of GFCM.

16. The Chairperson of SAC acknowledged the intense work of the Committee, its Sub-Committees and Working Groups. Fourteen meetings were held during the intersessional period. He especially stressed the importance of the SAC Coordination meeting of the Sub-Committees.

17. The Commission was informed that only 14 Members were present at the Sixth Session of SAC and expressed its concern regarding the decreasing and steadily unbalanced participation of scientists in the SAC activities. The Chairperson of SAC further informed the Commission of the main activities of the Sub-Committees, as follows.

- The Sub-Committee on Stock Assessment (SCSA) assessed 24 stocks covering 13 Geographical Sub Areas (GSA) and 14 species, including 8 demersals and 6 small pelagics; the list of priority species and shared stocks was upgraded; progress was made on the identification of Biological Reference Points. It was noted that GFCM Members were again invited to facilitate the involvement of their scientists to intersessional activities and meetings and to provide data for assessments, especially regarding priority species and shared stocks.

- The Sub-Committee on Economic and Social Sciences (SCESS) stressed that over recent years, only very few scientists from the Western Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea participated to its work. Nevertheless, activities on socio-economic indicators were pursued, including publication in the GFCM Studies and Review series, of a "Manual of fisheries sampling surveys and methodologies for estimations of socio-economic indicators". Applied studies on bio-economic modelling were launched. The need to incorporate activities regarding market research and distribution systems was emphasized.

- The Sub-Committee on Marine Environment and Ecosystems (SCMEE) launched its new Working Groups, respectively on Marine Ecology and Anthropogenic Effects and Fishing Technology. The vulnerability of cartilaginous species and the catch of non-target species in driftnets fisheries were particularly addressed

- The Sub-Committee on Statistics and Information (SCSI) concentrated on the identification of Operational units and on preparation of the implementation of MedFisis Project, which should facilitate the improvement of national statistical systems, thus enabling the gathering of fisheries data (fleet data and catch and effort) from the participating countries.

18. The Chairperson of SAC further informed the Commission on transversal activities, particularly the progress achieved by the ad hoc Working Group on Operational Units and by the Joint GFCM/ICCAT ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Tuna Farming.

19. The Chairperson of SAC stressed the limited interaction of the work of the four Sub-Committees. He pointed out that yearly work plans were too wide and ambitious without enough priority given to transversal issues. He also noted the need for elaborating specific terms of reference for the SAC Bureau to be agreed upon by the Commission.

20. The Commission was informed of the efforts made by the Secretariat to strengthen cooperation with Black Sea Members through the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project (BSERP), but it was noted that relationships remained weak with no participation of scientists from the Black Sea in the work of SAC.

21. The Commission expressed its satisfaction for the activities carried out by SAC.

22. The Commission went on to express its great satisfaction for the outstanding dedication and efficiency shown by Mr J-A. Camiñas in chairing the Scientific Advisory Committee since its inception. The Commission endorsed the election of Mr C. Piccinetti as new Chairperson of SAC, wished him success and expressed its full support in performing his task. The Commission agreed that the new SAC Chairperson would formally enter into function when discussing Agenda item 7 "Programme of Work" for the next intersessional period.

23. The delegate of Cyprus pointed out that, in view of the burden of work in SAC and the fact that the major problem remained that of diminishing stocks, activities of the Committee should concentrate as a matter of priority in providing the Commission with advice on management measures.

24. The delegate of the European Community (EC) pointed out that many SAC's present difficulties could be related to lack of funds and that many issues are likely to be solved with the implementation of the autonomous budget. He further emphasized the importance of the FAO Regional Projects and anticipated that the EC and its Member states were considering the possibility to ensure their continuity and extension to the Eastern Mediterranean. He also confirmed that the EC internal procedure to grant the funding of MedFisis had been completed.

25. The Commission expressed the wish that the Black Sea Members confirm their interest and involvement in the work of SAC and requested the Chairperson to take action in this respect.

26. The Commission endorsed the new Bureau of SAC identified at the Sixth Session of SAC (Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2003), as follows:

Mr C. Piccinetti

Chairperson

Mr N. Hadjistephanou

1st Vice-chairperson

Mrs K. Karlou-Riga

2nd Vice-chairperson

Mr P. Oliver

SCSA Coordinator

Mr A. Garcia

SCMEE Coordinator

Mr M. Camilleri

SCSI Coordinator

Mr M. I. Malouli

SCESS Coordinator

27. The functional shortcomings of SAC mentioned by its Chairperson were noted by the Commission, in particular the need to implement a system of continuous participation, based on the Members assuming their obligations and responsibilities and not only on personal initiative of individual scientists.

28. In this respect the Secretariat prepared and circulated a form with the names and functions of all the national focal points of SAC and CAQ, inviting the Members to complete it and to keep it updated.

29. The delegate of Tunisia informed the Commission of the new functions of Mr Amor El Abed, former SCMEE Coordinator. The Commission congratulated Mr El Abed and invited the delegate from Tunisia to convey him the best wishes of the Members. The Commission also wished him success in his new position.

Appraisal of SAC achievements

30. The report of the ad hoc meeting of experts on the independent appraisal of the achievements of the Scientific Advisory Committee since its inception in 1999 (GFCM/XXVIII/2003/Inf.5) was presented by Mr M. Camilleri who chaired this meeting. He pointed out that the forthcoming entry into force of the GFCM autonomous budget had led the second Coordination Meeting of the SAC Sub-Committees and the Sixth Session of SAC to recommend acceptance and follow-up of that appraisal, under the coordination of the Secretariat.

31. The appraisal comprised an initial external evaluation by a consultant, Mr J-J. Maguire, and an ad hoc meeting of experts from SAC networks who reviewed the consultant's report, summarised the major achievements of the Committee, identified SAC's strengths and weaknesses and suggested options for improving the efficiency of its modus operandi. Emphasis was on: (a) a task-oriented advisory process driven by GFCM management objectives; and (b) an enhanced capacity to formulate management advice in conformance with an ecosystem approach to fisheries.

32. Guiding principles were identified, together with proposals for related working mechanisms and methodological approaches. The Group of experts acknowledged that SAC has been successful overall. However, it stressed that financial support, data submission and participation were indispensable for the sustainability of activities. It also suggested that the current mode of operation of the Committee did not encourage the integration of disciplines. Advice offered by the Committee tended to be mono-disciplinary in orientation and based on single species approach. The Group further identified four preliminary options for the strengthening of SAC and assessed these options against the guiding principles.

33. In concluding, the Chair of the Group stressed that an autonomous budget would largely influence any decision on a more efficient mode of operation and structure.

34. The Commission congratulated the Group of experts on the quality of its work. The Commission agreed that the report of the Group would form a useful basis for further discussions on SAC within GFCM when endowed with an autonomous budget. The Commission agreed that problem-solving and task oriented approaches should be promoted. Different views were expressed on how to tackle multispecies fisheries assessments. The role of sub-regional fisheries projects throughout the Mediterranean basin was acknowledged to be vital for the work of SAC, whatever the options for enhancement to be considered in future. The Commission acknowledged that sufficient time was required for throughout examination of this report prior to taking further decision.

CopeMed

35. The Director of the CopeMed presented the major activities undertaken through the project during the intersession. He emphasized the outputs of the first Cooperative Forum of representatives from the private sector, research and administrative fisheries institutions as well as NGOs, which was held in July 2003. The conclusions of the Forum included the following suggestions: incorporating the activities of the CopeMed network of fisheries lawyers within the work of SCESS; ensuring that the Forum performs technical work during the intersession with selected items being dealt with by professionals upon guidance from the Commission; and involving fishery technologists in the work of SAC.

AdriaMed

36. The Director of AdriaMed referred to the salient activities of the project as reflected in the report of the Sixth Session of SAC. He provided additional information of interest to the Commission, in particular on the implementation of the Research Programme on demersal and small pelagic species in the GSA 17 and GSA 18, and on the technical consultation on Adriatic Sea small-scale fisheries, organized in Split, Croatia, in October 2003. The Commission was also reminded of the two AdriaMed meetings on cooperation with the fishing industry and the fisheries associations. As a follow-up to these meetings, a review document on the Adriatic Sea Professional Fishery associations is being finalised and specific topics are under consideration to foster cooperative activities among fishery managers, resources users and scientists.

37. The Plenary took note with satisfaction that the relevant action was taken for the Republic of Serbia and Montenegro to join AdriaMed.

MedSudMed

38. The Director of MedSudMed recalled that the project is aimed "at supporting the scientific communities and countries in the improvement or development of a monitoring system for the studies of fisheries resources and ecosystem". During the intersessional period, the Project organized, inter alia, three expert consultations respectively on "Spatial distribution of demersal resources according to the environment and fishery features", "Marine protected areas and fisheries management" and "Small pelagic fish stocks identification and oceanographic process influencing their abundance and distribution". As a follow-up to these consultations, a regional workshop for standardization of bottom trawl survey protocols and a workshop on National data and an information aggregation scheme including environmental parameters were organized.

39. A representative of the French private sector informed the Commission on progress achieved at a meeting held in Malta in September 2003 to establish an Association of Fishery Professionals of the Mediterranean, in order to federate existing associations. A Constitutive assembly was planned to take place in Tunisia, early 2004.

40. The delegate from Italy thanked the Coordinators of the FAO Regional Projects for their presentation and remarked that in the future context of the GFCM these projects could assume a prominent role in the preparation of technical advice on fisheries management measures. The delegate from the EC further emphasized the positive results and the key role played by these projects. Noting the importance of ensuring the continuity of FAO Regional projects, he expressed the intention of the EC and its Member States to consider support for these initiatives, including the implementation of a Regional Project in the eastern Mediterranean, in the framework of the autonomous budget.

41. The Observer from ICCAT stated that the relevant recommendations emanating from the 2003 Session of the SCRS could not be presented to the present session of GFCM as they still needed to be approved by the Plenary Session of ICCAT scheduled for November 2003.

Activities of the Committee on Aquaculture (CAQ)

42. In the absence of the Chairperson of the Committee, the Secretary presented the main activities carried out by the networks of CAQ, on the basis of document GFCM/XXVIII/2003/2. These included the updating of the SIPAM databases and Web site, as well as the holding of the Seventh SIPAM Coordinating meeting in Casablanca, Morocco, in September 2003. Seminars and courses organized by CIHEAM and IAMS under the framework of TECAM were also mentioned. The Commission was further informed that the Secretariat revised the Regional Aquaculture Project document, which will be submitted to the Fourth Session of CAQ (2004), and initiated action to undertake an independent appraisal of SIPAM.

43. Several delegations emphasized the importance of aquaculture in the Mediterranean fisheries sector and reiterated the need to increase efforts in supporting CAQ activities, including in relation to the forthcoming autonomous budget. In this respect, the Commission requested the Secretariat to consider undertaking an external evaluation of the whole activities of CAQ, in addition to SIPAM, possibly following the approach used for reviewing SAC.

44. The delegate of Egypt confirmed the offer made at the Twenty-seventh Session to host the Fourth Session of CAQ in Alexandria, although with the provision of using local interpretation.


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