18. Mr Jean-Francois Pulvenis described the perceived role of RFBs. He urged Meeting participants to take into account the wide variety of mandates and competences shared between different RFBs. Second, he noted that the establishment of most bodies emanates from international law, and this should not be underestimated. He reported that during COFI, many delegations insisted that we are entering into a stage of implementation of international instruments, which will enhance the role of RFBs. As such, the focus should not only be on the formal RFBs activities (i.e. meetings every two years), but also on the role of RFBs between meetings. In this respect, RFB secretariats have an important role in working towards effective decision-making mechanisms during intersessional periods between their meetings.
19. Ms Judith Swan outlined the role of RFBs, particularly as described in the following FAO Fisheries Circulars and Technical Consultations produced since the Third Meeting of RFBs in 2003:
FAO Fisheries Circular C995 - "Decision-making in regional fishery bodies or arrangements: the evolving role of RFBs and international agreement on decision-making processes";
FAO Fisheries Circular C996 - "International actions and responses by Regional Fishery Bodies to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing";
"Technical Consultation to review progress and promote the full implementation of the International Plan of Action on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and the International Plan of Action on the Management of Fishing Capacity, Rome, 24-29 June 2004", and
"Technical Consultation to
address substantive issues relating to the role of port States in preventing,
deterring and eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,
31 August-2 September 2004."
20. Ms Swan emphasized that recent international instruments had moved forward the important role that RFBs are playing in fisheries management as well as provisions related to decision-making.
21. In particular, she noted that effective and timely decisions for conservation and management measures are still required from RFMOs. Key issues to be addressed include transparency and improvement of dispute prevention, as distinct from resolution, mechanisms. The diversity of rules among RFMOs on objection procedures for conservation and management measures were noted. It was agreed that time delays associated with such procedures often dilute the effectiveness of RFMO measures.
22. In reporting on the result of an RFB survey dealing with IUU fishing, Ms Swan described actions and measures taken to combat IUU fishing and the main constraints that prevented the implementation of effective measures. A clear challenge identified was the difficulty for RFBs in assessing the impact and extent of IUU fishing. The implications for RFBs in the outcomes of the two Technical Consultations above were also described, with emphasis being accorded to the increasing importance being attached to RFBs in respect of improving global fisheries governance.
23. The Meeting agreed that IUU fishing affects coastal waters, as well as inland fisheries. This is of particular concern in areas where poverty alleviation is a major issue. Several inland commissions emphasised that IUU fishing is a significant problem in inland waters, and may differ in nature from the examples in maritime fisheries.
24. In discussion, the Meeting noted the major involvement of RFBs in implementing the four IPOAs and the FAO Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries (STF Strategy). It was also noted that there is a need for a more coordinated international effort to implement these IPOAs and the STF Strategy, identified above.