Honourable Y. Bhg. Dato Junaidi Che Ayub, Director-General of Fisheries, Distinguished Representatives from the Government of Malaysia, Workshop Participants and Observers and FAO Colleagues:
It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to this workshop that has been convened by FAO to focus on the elaboration of national plans of action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (NPOAs-IUU). I also extend this welcome on behalf of Mr. Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Mr. Changchui He, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
The convening of this second workshop in a series to be held in different regions around the world has involved a team effort on the part of staff from the Fisheries Department in Rome and counterparts from the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Indeed, our Bangkok-based colleagues, working closely with staff of the Malaysian Department of Fisheries, have been largely responsible for the logistical aspects of the workshop. To all those people who have worked so diligently and hard to facilitate this event please accept my sincere thanks.
IUU fishing, which occurs in all capture fisheries, has been a focus of attention in FAO for many years but over the past five years the focus has become sharper. Such fishing has already been considered in a number of fora within the Organization including the Committee on Fisheries, the FAO Council and the FAO Conference. In addition, different aspects of IUU fishing have been the subject of FAO expert and technical consultations.
I am sure that many of you are aware that the international community has identified IUU fishing to be a major impediment to achieving sustainable fisheries and, as a result, an issue that should be treated with priority. For this reason in 2001 FAO Members, after a fairly short negotiation process, adopted a voluntary instrument known as the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU). It was adopted within the framework of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
The IPOA-IUU has a broad scope. It seeks to deal with IUU fishing in a holistic and structured manner. The IPOA-IUU contains a number of measures that can be applied flexibility at the national and regional levels to combat IUU fishing because it is recognized that not all of its measures are applicable in all countries and in all capture fisheries.
The IPOA-IUU contains seven different types of measures that can be applied individually or in combination against IUU fishing. These measures should be implemented by governments and interested stakeholders, particularly industry, fishing communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). FAOs role is to promote and galvanize action against IUU fishing and IUU fishers rather then intervening directly in the implementation process.
The IPOA-IUU calls on States to elaborate NPOAs-IUU, as soon as possible, but not later than June 2004. These national plans are the vehicles to give life to the IPOA-IUU. However, to date only about 10 countries have prepared and disseminated NPOAs-IUU even though FAO is aware that many other countries and regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) are addressing different aspects of IUU fishing through such activities as vessel listing, strengthened international cooperation and fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) programmes.
According to recent information available to FAO the incidence of IUU fishing is increasing. In late 2003 the FAO Conference adopted a Resolution concerning progress with the implementation of the IPOA-IUU. The Resolution noted, inter alia, the continuing high and growing incidence of IUU fishing and related activities and a lack of political will and capacity by some governments to deal effectively with such fishing. The Resolution also noted a lack of commitment by some States with respect to IUU fishing to meet their obligations under international law. For these and other reasons the FAO Conference urged States and RFMOs to take direct and indirect action against IUU fishing.
Some Members have advised FAO that their efforts to implement the IPOA-IUU are being constrained by a lack of financial and human capacity. These constraints, in turn, inhibit the development of NPOAs-IUU, the national cornerstones in the implementation process. Through workshops such as this one FAO is attempting to fill a capacity gap in a practical manner by working with countries to improve the skills needed to prepare their NPOAs-IUU.
Let me say in conclusion that the IUU fishing problem is large, has many dimensions and is extremely dynamic. For this reason there is no room for complacency and wider and deeper efforts are needed to ensure that the IPOA-IUU is implemented fully. The preparation and implementation of NPOAs-IUU is a key element in this process.
I wish you all a very successful workshop and I urge that after you return to you respective administrations that you do all within your capabilities to put in place NPOAs-IUU. This is important for food security and livelihood considerations for both present and future generations.
Thank you very much for your attention.