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76. The Secretariat introduced document COFI/2005/5. The Committee commended the Secretariat for the document and acknowledged that it provided valuable guidance on the strategies and measures required for the creation of an enabling environment for small-scale fisheries. It observed that inland fisheries needed to be accorded greater attention and that it was proposed that more specific policy interventions in support of these fisheries should be identified in some areas while giving due account to possible tradeoffs in other areas.

77. The Committee noted a range of issues that should be addressed in order for small-scale fisheries to make a greater contribution to rural development, sustainable livelihoods, poverty alleviation and food security. These issues included the risk of overexploitation of fishery resources, especially in inshore waters, increasing operating costs particularly due to rising fuel prices, conflicts with large-scale fisheries and other users of coastal resources. In addition, many Members noted the geographical remoteness of many small-scale fishing communities, inadequacy of infrastructure and service facilities, a lack of access to credit as well as post-harvest losses. It was also pointed out that high exposure to occupational hazards and the high incidences of malaria, bilharzias and HIVAIDS took their toll on fisherfolk, especially in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

78. The Committee recognized the special importance of small-scale fisheries, especially to small island developing States, and the positive experiences of countries in support of this sector. These experiences included the development of specific policies and legislation for small-scale fisheries in areas such as preferential and exclusive access to nearshore fishery resources and secure rights to coastal land; strengthened co-management structures including MCS; diversification of livelihoods and better integration with other economic activities; measures to reduce post-harvest losses and value addition, inter alia, through microfinance schemes targeting women who play a predominant role in these activities and in fish marketing; fair competition at the point of first sale to mitigate against exploitative practices by "middlemen" and support to improve safety at sea and disaster preparedness.

79. The Committee expressed its appreciation to FAO and donor countries for giving greater attention to small-scale fisheries and for allocating more resources in their support. It welcomed the advance version of the Code of Conduct Guidelines on Enhancing the Contribution of Small-Scale Fisheries to Poverty Alleviation and Food Security. The Committee noted the importance of some of the measures in the Guidelines including the better integration of small-scale fisheries into national development and poverty reduction strategies and their empowerment through the strengthening of fishworkers organizations, communication and capacity-building. Concern was articulated that the Guidelines should address the issue of open-access fisheries as experience has demonstrated that open-access conditions invariably resulted in unsustainable fishing practices.

80. Several Members from West and Central Africa thanked the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom for funding, since 1999, the regional Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (SFLP) and FAO for assisting the 25 countries of the region in its implementation. Members were provided with successful examples of activities carried out in favour of poverty reduction and sustainable management in small-scale fisheries. The importance was stressed of this regional approach for the benefit of small-scale fishing communities in their respective countries. The donor community was requested to extend the Programme beyond its present phase ending in October 2006.

81. Some Members recommended that small-scale fisheries be given greater consideration in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries through a specific article or Appendix. Other Members expressed their concern about the possibility of reopening the Code and expressed their preferences for the elaboration of additional Guidelines.

82. Some members stressed the need to initiate international negotiations on the monitoring of fishing vessels within the framework of the Code of Conduct concerning its implementation, particularly with a view to combating IUU fishing and ensuring assistance to fishermen in peril.

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