Mr David Doulman, Senior Fishery Policy Officer and Technical Secretary of the Workshop, Mr. Mohd Najib bin Ramli, Penang State Director of Fisheries, Distinguished Experts, Participants and Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamualaikum WBRT and a very good morning.
It is indeed an honour for me to be given the opportunity to address a distinguished audience this morning. On behalf of the Government of Malaysia, I offer to all of you a most cordial welcome or Selamat Datang to our country. We are delighted to have you here and feel very proud of the opportunity to host the FAO Regional Workshop on the Elaboration of National Plans of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing for the Southeast Asian Region.
As you are aware, the Twenty-fifth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) had considered the International Plan Of Action - Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IPOA-IUU) in February 2003 and members had appealed to FAO to provide assistance to facilitate implementation, especially for the development of national plans of action on IUU. This workshop is one of the efforts undertaken by FAO to assist member countries in South East Asia to develop their own National Plan of Action on IUU.
On this note, I would like to congratulate and thank FAO for the efforts undertaken to organize this workshop for the South East Asian member countries to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries in this region.
We are all aware that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is an issue hotly debated in many international fisheries fora including those of the United Nations, FAO, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. IUU fishing is a serious threat to achieving long term sustainability in fisheries, as envisaged in Agenda 21 and the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, because it undermines national and regional efforts to rationally conserve and manage fish stocks.
IUU fishing can occur within zones of national jurisdiction, within areas of control of regional fisheries bodies, or on the high seas. With the increasing demand for fishery products and the decline of fishery resources, the increasing incidence of IUU fishing has been of great concern to responsible fishing nations. In a 1999 report to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the UN Secretary General stated that IUU fishing was one of the most severe problems currently affecting world fisheries. By hindering attempts to regulate an otherwise legitimate industry, IUU fishing puts at risk millions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs as valuable fish resources are depleted below sustainable levels.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Malaysia recognizes that IUU fishing activity is a major problem, which undermines the effectiveness of long-term sustainable fisheries management and we should support initiatives undertaken by FAO and Regional Management Bodies to combat the IUU fishing activity. However, the definition of IUU and related activities has to be clearly defined.
In Malaysia, the fisheries have been managed by the Government through limited entry licensing system. The fisheries management activities are supported by the Fisheries Act 1985 and subsidiary legislations made under the Act. The Fisheries Act, 1985 clearly spelt out that nobody is allowed to fish in the Malaysian fisheries waters without a valid fishing appliance and fishing vessel licence. Anybody who is found guilty of fishing without a valid fishing appliance and fishing vessel licence shall be penalised under this Act. Therefore, Malaysia has a legal framework to prevent and deter illegal and unauthorized fishing in the Malaysian fisheries waters.
However, we are still faced with some problems of illegal fishing from foreign fishing vessels in the Malaysia Exclusive Economic Zone. This is due to collective action failure among fishing nations who do not resume their duties and responsibilities to ensure their nationals to observe and comply with international arrangements to conserve our common fish resources. Malaysia believes that all nations have to cooperate to establish an agreed and effective fisheries management mechanism to combat IUU fishing activity.
In the year 2003, there were 103 foreign fishing vessels apprehended by the enforcement agencies for illegal fishing in the Malaysian fisheries waters. As of September 2004, a total of 79 foreign fishing vessels were apprehended for similar offences.
IUU fishing on the high seas is a highly organised, mobile and elusive activity undermining the efforts of responsible countries to sustainably manage their fish resources. International cooperation is vital to effectively combat this serious problem. By using regional fisheries management organisations as a vehicle for cooperation, fishing states, both flag and port states, and all major market states, should be able to coordinate actions to effectively deal with IUU fishing activity.
Malaysia has officially become a party to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission since November 1998. In line with the Strategic Action Plan for the Development of Tuna (2002-2010), Malaysia is encouraging the local entrepreneurs to venture into tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean. Tuna fishing in Malaysia is still at the infancy stage. At present, there are only 14 fishing vessels operating tuna fishing activities in the Indian Ocean. For purposes of data monitoring, these fishing vessels are required to land their catches at designated ports.
The lack of port State measures has been identified by FAO as one of the weakest links in the chain to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. It is therefore important that the NPOA has to incorporate measures that have to be taken by port State to combat IUU fishing.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) called for member countries to develop and implement NPOA-IUU by 2004. We have an important task to develop the NPOA as the year 2004 is ending soon. I hope that after attending this workshop, each member country could develop its own NPOA and implement the plan. By doing so, it will assist the member countries in this region to deter IUU fishing.
In developing the NPOA to deter, prevent and eliminate IUU fishing activity, we should take into account the different characteristics of the fisheries in this part of the world, the different level of fisheries development and the different capability and capacity in implementing any international arrangement. For example, Malaysia has a multi-species, multi-gears tropical fisheries. Our fisheries are largely dominated by small-scale coastal fisheries, which contributes almost 90% of our total fish landings and has provided almost 80,000 employment opportunities to our coastal population. Majority of them possess low education level. Furthermore, there is high incidence of poverty among fishing community. Due to these characteristics, Malaysia hopes to develop a peculiar NPOA to cater for the needs of the domestic fisheries. As a follow up to this workshop, a network should be established to facilitate information exchange pertaining to IUU among member countries.
For the participants who are here for the first time, may I suggest that you take this opportunity to explore and take in the warmth of Penang - The Pearl of The Orient after attending to the business at hand. As the host to this workshop, I would like to apologize for any shortcomings in the organization of this workshop.
Last but not least, I would like to thank all the distinguished participants, resource persons for making available your time to attend this Regional Workshop on IUU Fishing. I would also like to thank FAO and the secretariat for effort undertaken to ensure the success of this workshop.
I sincerely hope that you will have a fruitful and successful workshop.
With that note, and with the phrase Bismillahhirramanirrahim, it is my pleasure to declare open the FAO Regional Workshop on the Elaboration of National Plans of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing for the Southeast Asian Region.