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27. Mr. Staples provided an overview of FAO Technical Guidelines No. 9. He noted that the Technical Guideline was an elaboration of the IPOA-IUU and provided several useful examples of actions that would assist countries in understanding the IPOA-IUU and the range of actions that were available as part of the “toolbox”. As an introduction to the topic, Mr Staples provided a brief summary of the status and trends of marine and inland capture fisheries in Southeast Asia. The Workshop noted the importance of fisheries and fish to millions of people in the subregion and the need to manage them in a manner that promotes long-term sustainability.

28. Mr Staples’ presentation included a situation report for Southeast Asia against each of the responsibilities and measures advocated in the IPOA-IUU. He noted that a number of countries had signed and ratified the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, but to date, only a few had ratified the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. Mr Staples also provided information on the membership of Southeast Asian countries in various relevant regional fishery arrangements and RFMOs. It was pointed out that despite the fact that over 50 percent of the world’s fishery production came from the Asian region, only two RFMOs existed in the region. These were the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the new Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), both of which only dealt with highly migratory tuna species in areas adjacent to the region. The Workshop noted the initiative of the Asia Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) in providing an analysis of the current situation regarding subregional fishery arrangements and in initiating discussions on possible future arrangements based on regional seas.

29. Mr Staples highlighted the small-scale nature of the majority of fisheries in Southeast Asia and the multi-species/multi-gear nature of these mainly tropical fisheries. These characteristics made management and IUU fishing issues somewhat different to those in other parts of the world. In considering “All State Responsibilities”, Mr Staples noted that the EEZ arrangements in many seas in Southeast Asia were rather complicated as they were often bordered by several countries, and in the case of gulfs covered several EEZs in a relatively small area. He further noted that several borders between adjacent EEZs lay along the same coast line and the boundaries were not clear, especially to those people living near the borders. It was pointed out that the Southeast Asian subregion had only a few high seas pockets within a maze of EEZs, with the main high seas areas lying on the west in the Bay of Bengal and to the east in the Western Pacific Ocean. The difficulties in applying conventional MCS measures in an area where there were multiple landing sites, with a large proportion of the catch being sold and consumed locally, were also highlighted.

30. In general, the Workshop noted that flag State control over vessels in Southeast Asia was relatively weak, both inside and outside a country’s EEZs. Many vessels, especially those involved in small-scale fishing were not registered and the application of licenses or authority to fish was not well established. Most fisheries were open access in nature although some fisheries had regulations in terms of where people could fish, types of gears they could use, areas where they could fish etc. Many of the IUU fishing practices in Southeast Asia arose from a disregard of these regulations.

31. It was pointed out that vessels from different countries often fished in EEZs of other countries. The Workshop noted that some access agreements existed to promote these activities. Thailand, in particular, fished in the EEZs of many countries in Southeast Asia. Encroachment of unauthorized foreign vessels was highlighted as a major IUU fishing issue. Coastal States cooperation was facilitated through fora such as the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), ASEAN and APFIC but there were currently no specific IUU fishing collaborative activities. The need for increased regional cooperation was noted by the Workshop. The special needs of developing countries were also discussed and the Workshop highlighted the magnitude of the issues in Southeast Asia, compared with single species jurisdictions that had much greater control over fishing activities and vessels.

32. Mr Staples’ presentation concluded by pointing out the possible format for a NPOA-IUU. He also summarized the major IUU fishing issues, as provided by participants of the Workshop that could be addressed in the NPOAs. These were:

33. The Workshop recognized that many countries in Southeast Asia had common IUU fishing problems. It was agreed that common approaches to addressing these problems could be beneficial and that cooperation among countries was an important consideration if measures to combat shared problems in a timely and comprehensive manner were to be adopted. It was further agreed that a regional plan of action against IUU fishing could have merit in providing a springboard for strengthening the development of NPOAs-IUU. A regional plan could also very usefully identify the major IUU fishing problems and prioritize actions to address them. However, a regional plan, to be applied in a flexible manner, should not simply replicate the requirements of the IPOA-IUU or replace the need for countries to develop and implement their NPOAs-IUU.

34. Participants agreed that NPOAs-IUU would assist in improving fisheries management and the sustainable utilization of fishery resources in their countries even though the IPOA-IUU was a voluntary instrument and there was no legal obligation to elaborate NPOAs-IUU. An advantage of developing national plans was that they would enable a country to take stock of activities already been undertaken to combat IUU fishing while facilitating a more rational and integrated approach for further action. In this respect, the Workshop noted that the elaboration of NPOAs-IUU should not be viewed as an isolated activity as many other ongoing management activities (e.g. existing MCS/VMS activities) also included combating IUU fishing practises.

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