86. The Code of Conduct was fundamental to the proper management of the fisheries resources of the Pacific Islands. The Code established detailed guidelines and provided a comprehensive framework for fisheries management and utilization. If given full effect by Pacific Island countries, it would strengthen and augment efforts by the international community to ensure that fisheries resources were managed sustainably.
87. The Code and its IPOAs provided a benchmark against which Pacific Island countries might measure the way in which they managed and conserved their fisheries resources. The Code was perceived as an integral part of international efforts underpinned by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement to conserve and manage fish stocks sustainably. The Code supplemented both the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement by prescribing, in detail, measures that States should adopt not only to manage and conserve fish stocks, but also to protect and preserve the habitat in which the fish stocks occured.
88. Awareness about the Code was important for its implementation. Also of fundamental importance was an understanding of the various principles and provisions of the Code that were necessary for its effective implementation. Fisheries and other policy office holders should have an understanding of the Code. Understanding the Code was a basic requirement for its successful implementation. Therefore, greater awareness, information, dissemination and training about the Code should be encouraged.
89. Generally, there was an understanding and appreciation of the Code in the Pacific Islands and its various international instruments that impinged on the management and conservation of fisheries in the region. Indirectly and unconsciously, Pacific Islanders had been implementing various aspects of the Code in their fisheries policies and legislation. The indirect and unconscious implementation of the Code was borne out by the need to achieve good and sound governance in the fisheries sector. Pacific Island countries understood the need to ensure that their fisheries resources were not overexploited and while the policies and management and development plans they had put in place may not have been fully aligned with the letter of the Code, they were implementing the Code by implication. The reviews of legislation undertaken in the region also took into account international developments, particularly the Code, especially in setting the long-term sustainability goals as reflected in legislation.
90. It was obvious that while the Code provided a comprehensive framework for the management and utilization of fisheries resources, no guideline was available for small-scale fisheries management. This was an important issue for Pacific Island countries. Most Pacific Islanders in one way or another were involved in small-scale fishing either as harvesters or dependent on them as a source of food supply. The sustainable management of this fishery was therefore of fundamental importance to the region. This was because the impact of overexploitation of near-shore fisheries resources would impinge on food security and subsistence.
91. Aquaculture was an important fishery that was rapidly developing in the Pacific Islands. While the Code provided a very good basis for the development and management of aquaculture, there was a paucity of legal skills in the Pacific Islands to develop legislation to properly manage and control aquaculture. There was a need to develop the legal expertise required to draft legislation for aquaculture. In this regard, there was potential for FAO and other regional fishery bodies to collaborate in assisting Pacific Island countries develop aquaculture legislation.
92. Post-harvest practices and trade in fisheries were increasingly becoming more important to Pacific Island countries as they sought to expand their fish and fishery products in international markets. In this connection, these countries faced difficulties with respect to implementing the post-harvest practices and trade aspects of the Code. This was because countries lacked the legal expertise to develop the necessary legal frameworks required to meet EU and US market demands. This contrasted with the availability of technical resources to undertake necessary inspections of fish processing facilities and to examine the quality of fish and fishery products. Given the lack of legal skills to develop appropriate legislation, FAO and other regional fishery bodies were encourage to collaborate in assisting Pacific Island countries develop legislation on post-harvest practices and trade.
93. ICM was particularly important for Pacific Island countries. There was a need for decentralized management and a recognition of the role that communities and NGOs could play in assisting governments implement the ICM component of the Code. A participatory approach to decision-making with respect to ICM should be promoted and involve all relevant stakeholders. While it was recognized that a participatory approach was necessary, important decisions were being made without recourse to full consultation with stakeholders. This was often a function of the sectoral approach to management. FAO and other relevant organizations could consider collaborating in promoting training for Pacific Islanders to facilitate broader participation in decision-making process.
Proposed National Regional and Global Follow-up Actions
94. The Workshop endorsed the following national and regional actions for follow-up and proposed that FAO and other international agencies, as appropriate, consider activities to further support the implementation of the Code in the Pacific Islands.
95. National action to strengthen the implementation the Code and its IPOAs:
To designate an officer in the fisheries administration to serve informally as a national focal point for the Code of Conduct. This officer would receive information updates relating the Code and be responsible for ensuring that questionnaires, etc., relating to the Code were completed and returned to FAO in a timely manner. The officer would also communicate/network, as required, with his/her counterpart focal points in other Pacific Island countries.
To take measures to promote greater awareness about the Code in Government and among all relevant stakeholders. Such awareness raising could involve activities including wider dissemination of the Code, the translation of key aspects of the Code into local languages, the production of comics, etc., concerning responsible fisheries behaviour, the use of theatre groups, the preparation of radio and television stories about responsible fisheries, etc.
To take steps to ensure that the Code is well reflected in fisheries policies and, as appropriate, to incorporate references to, and articles of, the Code into legislation when it is reviewed and revised.
To elaborate, as required, additional fishery management plans appropriately reflecting the principles and concepts contained in the Code of Conduct. Inshore and off-shore management plans have been elaborated, or are being elaborated by Pacific Island countries. These plans reflect the principles of the Code although it may not be mentioned specifically.
To consider, as a means of assessing progress with the implementation of the Code, the elaboration of Code-based indicators that could be used as a benchmark for evaluating progress.
To take steps to promote at the political level policies designed to implement community-based fisheries management in small-scale fisheries as a means of promoting and implementing the Code's principles and concepts in these fisheries. Sensitization of officials, if required, should also be undertaken.
To further promote stakeholders involvement in processes relating to the implementation of the Code and associated activities such as the elaboration and review of fishery policy and management plans, recognizing the important role played by NGOs.
To consider the merits and applicability of MPAs as a fisheries management tool and as a means of further promoting long-term sustainable resource use.
96. Regional action to further support the implementation of the Code and the IPOAs:
To encourage discussion and sharing of information and experiences about national measures being taken to implement the Code at appropriate regional fora.
To encourage regional organizations to reflect the Code in the delivery of their technical services (e.g. in technical assistance provided with respect to policy development and evaluations and the drafting of fishery management plans.
To encourage relevant regional institutions and agencies to incorporate information about the Code, the IPOAs and the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement in fisheries management training and education courses. The inclusion of such material in courses will heighten awareness about the Code and its role in promoting more responsible fisheries.
To encourage NGOs to consult and network regionally on matters that affect the implementation of the Code.
97. FAO and other international action to support the implementation of the Code and the IPOAs.
To review and revise, as appropriate, the FAO Code questionnaire which is designed to collect national information about the measures being taken to implement the Code. This review would focus on removing ambiguity, clarifying terminology and making the questionnaire generally more user-friendly.
To take action to facilitate the establishment of a network of Code focal points in the Pacific Islands. These focal points would serve as primary contact points in all matters relating to the Code.
To take steps to elaborate a FAO Technical Guideline relating to small-scale fisheries management.
To provide, as required, policy and legal technical assistance to Pacific Island countries for the elaboration of appropriate frameworks to underpin the development of aquaculture.
To provide, as required, policy and legal technical assistance to Pacific Island countries for the elaboration of appropriate frameworks relating to post-harvest issues, in particular with regard to quality standards for fish and fishery products.