Global fisheries governance
25. The Meeting recognized the importance of addressing external factors such as poverty alleviation, food security, profit motives and lack of political will. In that context, fostering the ability of RFBs to raise their profiles in terms of education or information dissemination was seen as being important for addressing such factors. Several participants identified a need for RFBs to improve communications with their stakeholders and with the general public. Examples were given of profitable initiatives by some RFBs in this regard, and a number of practical suggestions were made as to how the RFBs' profiles might be raised. These include information dissemination in an accessible form, more thorough consultation, special events, transparency in RFB operations as far as attached mandates allow, and making full use of electronic media. It was agreed that RFBs should actively promote linkages among themselves, possibly by posting a contemporary page on the RFB website containing information to be shared by the network intersessionally. At an individual RFB level, it was agreed that some form of communications policy is important, especially one which allows Executive Secretaries to respond to the media in a timely and informed manner. For information exchange between RFBs, the development of website links was seen as a useful tool.
26. The Meeting reiterated that IUU fishing is a very large and complex problem which is unlikely to be solved in the near future. It has multiple drivers, ranging from criminal greed to ignorance. It is global in effect and will require global as well as multiple solutions. Some solutions identified were trade monitoring, and in artisanal, and non-industrially-based, fisheries improving the implementation of co-management. In all respects, there was strong agreement that there is still a very strong need to improve the individual, as well as corporate, accountability of all parties involved in fishing. In this context, some participants noted recent progress in developing and circulating both "positive" and "negative" vessel lists as a way to combat IUU fishing in oceanic areas.
27. Particular attention was drawn to an ongoing need to focus on the IUU fishing problem in relation to small-scale, inland and recreational fisheries, particularly the latter.
28. The Meeting recognized that IUU fishing activities undermine the RFBs' management efforts as they raise the levels of uncertainty which need to be addressed. This requires additional information for management to be effective with consequent increases in costs to ensure the obtaining of quality information. Therefore, considerable resources are required to improve global understanding of IUU fishing and to reduce attached management uncertainties. The meeting strongly recognized that whatever solutions are offered, these need to be realistic, cost-effective and long term.
29. The Meeting agreed that the Rome Ministerial Declaration on IUU Fishing (Appendix E) should be brought to the attention of all RFBs' members. In addition, it recognized the important work being undertaken by the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Network in combating IUU fishing. This Network is an affiliation that serves as a forum for exchanging MCS information and puts MCS specialists/practitioners in direct personal contact with each other.
30. Ms N. Kourti of the European Commission Joint Research Centre briefly outlined the recent development of monitoring capabilities based on a Vessel Detection System (VDS) and associated problems currently attached therewith. The Meeting endorsed the potential utility of using remote sensing to complement vessel monitoring systems (VMS). It was also recognized that potentially new arrangements and costs are likely to be attached to any future VDS system(s). Some participants also noted the importance of developing data communications standards in this regard.
31. The Meeting noted FAO's ongoing efforts to deal with port State control, recognizing problems caused, inter alia, by such considerations as the use of "ports of convenience".
32. The Meeting noted clear linkages between fleet overcapacity and IUU fishing. Some participants described their work with respect to addressing the question of overcapacity. The Meeting further expressed concern about the possibility of solving fishing overcapacity problems in one geographical area only to transfer these elsewhere.
33. The Meeting therefore welcomed the Rome Ministerial Declaration on the Tsunami (Appendix F) which urged countries not to relocate excess fishing capacity as part of the tsunami relief effort.
Incorporating ecosystem considerations into management by RFBs
34. The Chairperson drew the attention of the meeting to the documented responses from some RFBs on their activities aimed at incorporating ecosystem considerations into fisheries management.
35. Mr Kevern Cochrane delivered a presentation on ecosystem approaches to fisheries management (EAF). He referred to the relevant international instruments and FAO guidelines, and noted growing public pressure for EAF. Mr Cochrane also highlighted the range of views on EAF that currently exists, and the underlying rationale, definition and principles for its implementation. In terms of implementation, which he noted should be incremental in approach, Mr Cochrane emphasized the importance of identifying priority issues and operational objectives. In this context, he drew attention to the hierarchical tree framework developed and used by Australia. He also addressed risk analysis and actions to achieve operational objectives, as well as possible threats to implementing EAF at both regional and global levels.
36. The Chairperson noted that the key message of the above presentation was the considerable pressures involved in operationalizing the difficult and complex set of circumstances attached to an EAF. Referring to the benefits of continuing EAF development, the Chairperson cautioned that it is important to remain mindful of the difficulties caused by conflicting objectives, and of the need to resolve these to the satisfaction of all concerned. Limited stakeholder participation and lack of knowledge thus go hand and hand to compromise EAF's efficacy. To address this, the Chairperson noted that improved knowledge on, and simple explanations as to, what EAF is striving to address altogether helps people to get involved and understand the goals. In effect the issue of equity is an underlying consideration and the key to ensuring the successful application of the EAF. Consequently, stakeholder participation, education and adequate information dissemination are key considerations in ensuring that EAF is effective.
37. The Meeting also discussed EAF at length, highlighting individual RFB activities and challenges. Much of the information discussed was included in Meeting documentation and the attached information flow indicated the value to participants of remaining informed on the matter. Some of the issues raised included: (a) problems of reconciling conflicting objectives in management of different species, (b) the wide diversity of approaches and the need for workable objectives essentially based on a common sense approach, (c) the value of stakeholder involvement in various contexts, including marine protected areas, (d) the importance of applying principles of equity in respect of ensuring that equal account is taken of all relevant concerns attached to EAF aspects, (e) the parallel between the sustainable livelihoods approach and EAF, and (f) the need to take into account marine mammals and seabirds as dependent species in relation to the harvested stocks. It was acknowledged that future information exchanges should be encouraged to be as cost-effective, informed and focused as possible.
38. It was noted that most RFBs have now adopted the various fisheries instruments concluded after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, particularly the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (Code of Conduct) and 2002 Johannesburg Political Declaration on Sustainable Development and Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD-POI). As a result, certain management initiatives have been developed to address regional specifications, needs and uniqueness. While noting such developments, the Meeting felt that EAF should continue to be viewed as a way to improve existing management practices. Consequently, it suggested that the following should be considered in future efforts to incorporate EAF principles into various RFBs' initiatives:
Building awareness on EAF among RFB member countries and contracting parties;
Evaluating existing management initiatives and practices which may, one way or another, have embedded EAF concerns; and
Identifying weaknesses in existing management initiatives and practices as well as strategies to strengthen them.