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This is the second workshop in a project that aims at improved fisheries management through better knowledge of factors leading to unsustainability and overexploitation in fisheries, and an improved framework for the implementation of international fisheries instruments. The project, GCP/INT/788/JPN: Factors of Overexploitation and Unsustainability in Fisheries was initiated in 2001 by FAO with financial support from the Government of Japan against a background of increasing concern for the rapidly deteriorating state of our marine fisheries.

Over the last 15 years, the marine fishery resources of the world have been increasingly subjected to overexploitation, detrimental fishing practices, and environmental degradation. The phenomenon now affects a majority of fisheries worldwide, with very severe consequences in terms of resource unsustainability, massive economic waste, increasing social cost and food insecurity.

Over the last decade, the international community has become increasingly aware of this situation. At the global level, a number of major legal instruments have been developed to address the management of marine fisheries. Among these are: the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement and more recently the International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity and the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. Regional fisheries management organizations have also been strengthened, with a number of new ones having been created in recent years.

Yet the effective implementation of these instruments appears to be a slow and difficult process. There is seldom an international fisheries forum that does not call for increased determination to implement these instruments to halt and eventually reverse the present trend of resource depletion. This call was renewed recently in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. However, effective implementation of the instruments is difficult because, inter alia, the factors contributing to fisheries overexploitation and unsustainability are still not widely understood.

The first workshop, The International Workshop on Factors Contributing to Unsustainability and Overexploitation in Fisheries, was held in Bangkok, 4-8 February 2002 (“the Bangkok Workshop”).[2] It was attended by 24 experts, in their personal capacity, from a wide range of countries, disciplines and experience.

The Bangkok Workshop focused on identifying main factors of unsustainability (and to some extent, how they interact) and possible paths to solutions. The main factors identified and used by the present workshop as a sound basis for analysis, were: inappropriate incentives; high demand for limited resources; poverty and lack of alternatives; complexity and lack of knowledge; lack of governance; interactions of the fishery sector with other sectors and with the environment. The workshop also reviewed the adequacy of major existing international fisheries instruments. An Analytic Summary of the Bangkok Workshop appears in Annex 3 of the report in this document.

The present workshop, The International Workshop on the Implementation of International Fisheries Instruments and Factors of Unsustainability and Overexploitation in Fisheries was held in Mauritius, 3-7 February 2003. It was attended by 31 experts from 23 countries, in their personal capacity, representing diverse expertise, backgrounds and nationalities.

The workshop was based on a review of eleven case studies, each relating to one of the following categories of fishery: large volume small pelagics; tuna and tuna-like species; large volume demersals; and coastal fisheries. The aim was to identify issues and obstacles for fishery management (with reference to the factors of unsustainability identified at the Bangkok Workshop), lessons to be learned and paths to solutions. This was achieved in the context of four dimensions of sustainability: bio-ecological; social; economic; and institutional. Special attention was given to policy considerations related to priorities for fishery management and conservation. The Analytical Framework used as a basis for the case studies appears in Annex 4 of the report in this document.

Four working groups were formed; one for each of category of fishery, to review and further consider the issues raised in the discussion papers containing the case studies. Each working group presented a general report and conclusions to plenary and plenary arrived at general conclusions applicable to all categories of fishery.

In general, this workshop concluded that poor governance is a major cause for the inability to achieve sustainable fisheries. Other issues addressed in the conclusions are: the need to grant secure rights to resource users; a widespread need for capacity building, training and other specified forms of information dissemination and sharing; the need to extend the usual focus of fishery management beyond the biological component so that economic and social components (the latter considered to be insufficiently covered by fisheries management instruments) are also considered; a need for better progress at national and regional levels in implementing international instruments; and how a lack of will often impedes the achievement of sustainability.

This document contains the report of the Mauritius Workshop, discussion papers containing case studies and notes submitted to the workshop by participants. This document, and in particular the conclusions adopted by workshop participants, will serve as a basis for further analytical work aimed at improved fisheries management and a more effective implementation of major international fisheries instruments. Such work will be pursued in 2003, and the final aim of the project is the organization in 2004 of a major international conference on factors of unsustainability and the effective implementation of international fisheries management instruments.

[2] The report of the Bangkok Workshop is published in FAO Fisheries Report No. 672, “Report and documentation of the International Workshop on Factors Contributing to Unsustainability and Overexploitation in Fisheries, Bangkok, Thailand, 4-8 February 2002”, Gréboval, ed.

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