100. The Secretariat introduced document COFI/2005/8 on marine protected areas (MPAs) and fisheries, pointing out that MPAs had been used in fisheries in the past and that an increase in their use is anticipated in response to the call for their establishment and development by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Johannsburg Plan of Implementation. The Secretariat stated that MPAs have potential benefits as a fisheries management tool provided they are specifically designed for fisheries and properly implemented, although experience on the use of MPAs is still scarce. Reference was also made to the importance of a participatory process in the development and implementation of MPAs.
101. Many Members expressed their support for the use of MPAs as a tool for conservation and fisheries management and a number described their experiences. Several Members suggested that MPAs should be used to manage not only fishery activities but other human activities. There was agreement that the use of MPAs as a fisheries management tool should be scientifically-based and backed by effective monitoring and enforcement and an appropriate legal framework. The Committee agreed that MPAs were one of a number of management tools and that they would be effective in combination with other appropriate measures such as capacity control. Several Members emphasized the importance of taking into account the socioeconomic impacts of establishing MPAs, including their impact on local communities and food security. In addition, some Members highlighted the need for stakeholder involvement in the design and implementation of MPAs. They referred to the need to set clear objectives for MPAs and to monitor performance in achieving those objectives. Several Members reiterated that the use and extent of MPAs within EEZs was the responsibility of each State.
102. Some Members expressed their support for the establishment of MPAs as a fisheries management tool on the high seas, provided they were based on sound scientific evidence, however some Members raised doubts about the effectiveness of high seas MPAs. Some Members recognized that many RFMOs had the competence to establish MPAs and some were already doing so. However, in some cases, there was a need to consider the establishment of a broader legal framework including new conservation and management arrangements supported by an effective compliance regime. It was further recognized that problems could be experienced in cases where RFMOs had overlapping jurisdictions. The Committee noted that RFMOs would need to develop means of interacting with other relevant IGOs, in particular in the environmental field, including the CBD, and other organizations such as IMO, when there was a need to exclude non-fishery human activities within an MPA on the high seas. Such interaction should also take into account the experience of NGOs working in this area.
103. The Committee recommended that FAO develop technical guidelines on the design, implementation and testing of MPAs, even though one Member stated that it did not support this work and considered it inappropriate. Some Members requested guidelines specifically on the use of MPAs on the high seas. The Committee drew attention to the need to liaise with and benefit from the experiences of a number of countries, IGOs and NGOs in the preparation of guidelines. Some Members from developing countries requested FAO technical assistance in developing MPA systems. The Committee agreed that FAO should assist its Members in achieving the relevant WSSD goals by 2012, in particular the establishment of representative networks of MPAs. It stressed that FAO should collaborate with other IGOs working on the topic, in particular CBD and UNGA.