As the Secretary of the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission (APFIC), I welcome you all to the APFIC "Regional Workshop on low value and trash fish in the Asia-Pacific region". APFIC is the oldest Regional Fisheries Commission in the World, beginning its life as the Indo-Pacific Fishery Commission way back in 1948. Since that time it has served its members well, spinning off several smaller bodies such as INFOFISH and NACA. However, as more subregional fishery bodies such as SEAFDEC and BOBP-IGO have come into being, APFIC has had to modify its role and responsibilities. Following an extensive review over the past few years, the Commission decided at its 28th session last year that it could best serve its members by becoming a Regional Consultative Forum. This Forum was to provides its Members a neutral platform to examine issues affecting the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture across Member States. One of the major changes in modus operandi was to involve its partners and the non-governmental organizations much more in its business and its business and it is encouraging to see many of our partners here today. We are running out of space to fit all the logos!
It was agreed at the last Commission meeting that APFIC should hold a major Consultative Forum Meeting every two years and organize a number of inter-sessional workshops on issues considered to be of major regional importance. The first of these is todays a second one on "Mainstreaming Fisheries Co-management" to be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia in August 2005. Recommendations coming from these two workshops will be further considered the APFIC biennial Consultative Forum Meeting and subsequent Commission session. APFIC is also planning to organize a workshop as part of the 2006 East China Congress, to provide a forum for fisheries to become a major player in the larger Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Large Marine Ecosystem arena.
During the workshop, you will be hearing and discussing several major issues connected with the evolution of Asian fisheries from "fisheries for humans" towards "fisheries for aquaculture". There are many questions over the sustainability of supply and demand in these fisheries, as well as socio-economic and ethical concerns. The objective of the workshop is to tease out these issues and to come up with ways to address them. In preparing for this workshop, it became obvious that there our many gaps in our knowledge about what is happening in many Asian fisheries and I also believe that we should also come up with ways to address these knowledge gaps. Three days is not a long time to come up with solutions but I would like to see a fairly well formulated action plan emerge from the workshop. I know you will all contribute constructively to achieve this goal.
In moving onto the agenda of the workshop, I would just like to take this opportunity at the outset to thank everyone who has enthusiastically contributed to what, I am sure, will be a major success.