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27. The Executive Committee discussed this agenda item referring to documents APFIC:ExCo/05/4, APFIC:ExCo/05/Inf.4 and APFIC:ExCo/05/Inf.5. It recalled that the Commission at its twenty-eighth session in 2004, had reviewed and commented on the analysis made by the Secretariat on regional bodies, organizations and arrangements concerned with fisheries and the environment. In this respect, the Commission noted the emergence, since the late sixties and in particular after the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of a number of coordination and advisory bodies and arrangements in the region, with varying mandates, scopes of work and membership.

28. It further noted that despite the fact that the APFIC region has the highest fishery and aquaculture production in the world, the region has only two Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), i.e., the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the recently established Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC). A number of regional economic cooperation arrangements exist, notably the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC); the Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN); the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF). In addition, there are several ongoing regional coordinating programmes and projects of varying durations such as the Coordinating Body for the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), Partnership for the Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and the regional project on Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand financed by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) which have fisheries amongst their interests.

29. The Committee recognized a number of relevant issues relating to fisheries management which remain to be resolved and which require coordinated regional efforts including, inter alia, the implementation of the four FAO international plans of action and the FAO Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries (STF Strategy) and the management of transboundary fish stocks. It concurred with the view of the Twenty-sixth Session of COFI (March 2005) that the capacity of some regional fishery bodies and arrangements needs to be strengthened to address these issues. It welcomed the recommendation of that session of COFI regarding the need for undertaking a review of the performance of Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) in meeting their objectives, obligations and principles as set forth in relevant international instruments.

30. The Committee was of the opinion that the predominance of small-scale fisheries in the region requires APFIC to play a strong advocacy role in the international arena. APFIC should strengthen its coordination role between regional organizations and arrangements and the Member countries. The Committee agreed that APFIC as a Regional Consultative Forum is instrumental in bringing relevant regional organizations and arrangements to one place in order to improve understanding and recommend possible solutions of some regional fishery issues.

31. The Committee agreed that some of the regional economic cooperation arrangements might play a larger role in the regional or subregional fisheries management in the future. It reiterated the Commission’s view, however, that APFIC should not evolve into a fisheries management body. The Committee believed that in the near future there would be a need for suitable mechanisms to provide subregional fishery organizations with the mandate for fisheries management. They would also play a facilitating role in assisting concerned countries with shared or transboundary stocks (or common issues) and in working towards collective agreements on the management of those stocks. The Committee agreed that APFIC could play this facilitating role in the initiative and a good entry point for this is assistance with the formulation of national fisheries strategies. The Committee recommended that APFIC retain this agenda item in the Executive Committee meeting for further discussion.

32. The Committee noted with appreciation that in compliance with the Commission’s directives, the
Secretariat had increased its efforts to foster closer partnership with other bodies and arrangements in the region, including ASEAN, BOBP-IGO, COBSEA, NACA, MRC, PEMSEA, SEAFDEC, SPC and WorldFish Center. It has discussed the need for regional fisheries management mechanisms with several major stakeholders, for example, at the UNEP First Regional Partners Workshop on Regional Coordination Mechanisms in the East Asian Seas Region (Bangkok, 9-10 May 2005) and worked closely with PEMSEA by highlighting fisheries issues in its "Integrated Coastal Area Management" programme.

33. The Committee was advised that the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Fisheries (ASWGFi) had agreed, from the next meeting onwards, to invite international organizations to join its meetings.

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