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1. Opening Session of the meeting

The regional workshop on Rehabilitation of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Coastal Communities of Tsunami Affected Countries in Asia was organized by a consortium of regional fisheries/aquculture bodies (CONSRN[1]) and was hosted by FAO at its Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand on the 28 February and 1 March 2005. The meeting was attended by 53 participants including representatives from six of the tsunami affected countries and participants from the CONSRN consortium, donor agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A full list of participants is attached as Appendix B.

The workshop was opened by Mr He Changchui, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok. He outlined some of the human and economic impacts of the Asian tsunami and expressed deep condolences to those affected by the disaster.

He described how the consortium of CONSRN was formed in the aftermath of the tsunami and the importance of its coordination role in supporting the rehabilitation work to be undertaken by the partners and countries. He described how these organizations had responded quickly to the disaster and how FAO had rapidly mobilized teams of national and international experts to assist with the relief operations. These teams had confirmed that the fisheries sector was the hardest hit by the tsunami. He also described how rehabilitation must consider people's livelihoods and food security and should be linked to other sectors, such as agriculture, whilst still ensuring restoration of biodiversity. The importance of early warning systems, rehabilitation of salt affected soils and repairs to infrastructure were also highlighted.

In his address he further outlined how FAO had collaborated in the coordination efforts of the UN and the role undertaken by FAO in relation to the initial relief and damage assessment stage of operations. He then described how, as the operations moved into the long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction process, it was important to have a shared vision of a sustainable approach to reconstruction and an agreed "blueprint" for what we were attempting to build. He highlighted how this vision must be based on restoring the livelihoods of those affected and include sustainable management of the natural resource base, such as coral reefs, mangrove forests and associated fisheries. He pledged FAO's willingness to work with partners during future rehabilitation and in addressing the challenges that lay ahead.

In describing the objective of the workshop he emphasised the importance of developing a regional strategy together with a programme framework for long-term rehabilitation and sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in all affected countries.

In closing, he expressed his confidence that the objectives of the workshop would be achieved and how the expertise present in this workshop would provide a firm footing to build this strategy for rehabilitation as well as for sound project formulation and targeting of interested donors. He then declared the workshop open.

The opening statement is attached in Appendix D.

[1] Consortium to restore shattered livelihoods of communities in tsunami affected nations (CONSRN). See concept note attached in Appendix E. The consortium comprises the Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centers (SEAFDEC) and the WorldFish Center (WorldFish).

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