1. The Fourth Meeting of Regional Fishery Bodies (RFBs) was held on 14 and 15 March 2005 at FAO headquarters, Rome. Participants (Appendix B) included representatives from the Secretariats and office bearers of 29 RFBs, the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Chairperson of Committee on Fisheries (COFI). Representatives of the FAO Fisheries Department were also in attendance.
2. Mr Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General, FAO Fisheries Department, opened the Meeting. He noted that the demands placed on Regional Fishery Bodies have become heavier in recent years as the productivity of fish stocks has dwindled and fishing pressure increased. He referred to the June, 2004 Technical Consultation to Review Progress and Promote the Full Implementation of the International Plan of Action (IPOA) to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and the IPOA for the Management of Fishing Capacity, which noted that Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) played a key role in galvanizing regional action against IUU fishing and related activities. He recalled initiatives that were proposed during the Consultation, including the strengthening of informal and formal networks between RFBs and closing regional governance gaps that permitted IUU fishers to operate. He also noted that the September 2004 Technical Consultation to Review Port State Measures to Combat IUU Fishing highlighted that regional action should be encouraged, and that these decisions and recommendations have been reaffirmed during the recent session of COFI and the Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries. Mr Nomura stated that throughout this Meeting, FAO will pay particular attention to the discussions and, following the conclusion of the Meeting, seek to collaborate with RFBs and to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations that might be agreed. The full text of the Assistant Director-General's statement is in Appendix D.
3. The Chairperson of the Meeting, Mr Denzil Miller, thanked Mr Nomura for his encouragement and support. He noted that this was the first time the Chairperson of COFI has attended the Meeting, and reported that Mr Alejandro Anganuzzi, Secretary of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, was unable to attend due to hospitalization. The Chairperson received the endorsement of the Meeting to communicate to Mr Anganuzzi on behalf of participants their best wishes for his recovery.