34. The Executive Committee considered the above agenda item referring to documents APFIC: ExCo/05/5, APFIC:ExCo/05/Inf.4, APFIC:ExCo/05/Inf.6 and APFIC:ExCo/05/Inf.7. It recalled that the Commission at its twenty-eighth session in 2004 had given high priority to the work on small-scale fisheries, and as part of the preparations for the inaugural meeting of the APFIC Regional Consultative Forum in 2006, had agreed that two major issues, namely, trash fish and discards and coastal and inland fishery co-management in the Asia and Pacific region needed to be properly addressed (para. 55 of the Report of the Twenty-eighth Session of APFIC). The Secretariat reported that, in response to the Commissions directives, the APFIC Regional Workshop on Low-Value and "Trash Fish" in the Asia-Pacific region had been held in Hanoi, Viet Nam from 7 to 9 June 2005 and the APFIC Regional Workshop on "Mainstreaming" Fisheries Co-management in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 9 to 12 August 2005.
35. The Workshops were joined by participants from the APFIC member countries, regional bodies (AIT, BOBP-IGO, MRC, NACA, SEAFDEC, WorldFish Center) and arrangements (CBCRM, CDC, EU-CHARM, SUMA, UNEP/South China Seas project), as well as other interested organizations (ACIAR, FACT, ICSF, IUCN, WWF). The outcome of these two Workshops, as detailed in documents APFIC/05/Inf.6 and APFIC/05/Inf.7, provides substantial input for the preparation of the 2006 Regional Consultative Forum, in which the two topics constitute the major issues to be discussed.
36. The Committee acknowledged that until recently information on the impact of low-value fish, trash fish and discards on rural food consumption and security as well as on the development of other economic activities in the region had not been consolidated. The variations in usage of the term for trash fish and the diversity of issues relating to the capture and utilization of low value/trash fish has implications on fisheries management and the sustainability of the fishery resources. The Committee expressed its appreciation that the Secretariat had, for the first time, collated this relevant information at the regional level on issues relating to low-value fish and trash fish, including demand for direct feed in aquaculture; demand for food by rural populations and as animal feed; sustainability of harvesting; ecosystem impact; post-harvest improvement; discards; and environmental and social impact on the use of low-value and trash fish.
37. The Committee agreed with the main findings of the Workshop and supported the need to address the very large issue of low value/trash fish across the region with management interventions that would reduce the demand for low value/trash fish for livestock/aquaculture through feed substitutes, reduce the capacity of the vessels that are catching a large part of the low value/trash fish (trawlers and push nets) and also introduce more selective fishing gear and better utilization of low value/trash fish in value-added products. The Committee also shared experiences of low value/trash fish reduction that were already occurring in the region. Some good examples that involved significant reduction in the number of vessels that were catching low value/trash fish were discussed.
38. The Committee endorsed the draft action plan and intervention points developed by the Workshop to address the above-mentioned issues. The Committee suggested that updated information, possibly through country situation reports, should be invited from the APFIC Members and other interested bodies for discussion at the first Regional Consultative Forum Meeting.
39. The Committee recognized that fisheries management has been traditionally practiced in inland and coastal communities in several countries of the region for a long time. However, fisheries co-management has not yet been widely adopted as a fisheries management tool in the region, but has been practiced on an experimental basis with projects financed, in many instances, by external donors. Regarding the APFIC Regional Workshop on "Mainstreaming" Fisheries Co-management, the Committee concurred with the view of the Workshop that four essential pillars are required for successful fisheries co-management, namely, effective policies and legislation; effective institutional arrangements; devolution of core responsibilities including planning and implementation to communities/ stakeholders; and sufficient resources including human capacity and funding. It recognized that the efficient partnerships between governments, public sectors, NGOs and fishing communities in fisheries management at the local level is essential in mainstreaming fisheries co-management. It was suggested that country reports highlighting progress in the implementation of co-management projects at the country level should be invited for discussion at the Regional Consultative Forum Meeting.
40. The Committee appreciated the report of the co-management workshop and agreed that community and stakeholder involvement was a critical requirement for effective fishery management and that positive lessons had been learned in countries where it had been effectively put in place. In this respect, co-management would be an important theme for the Regional Consultative Forum Meeting.
41. The Committee acknowledged that strengthening of communities and government units that interact with them was required, in a sustained manner, that would extend beyond the lifetime of project type interventions. This raises the question as to how communities can be empowered and strengthened in a way that they can develop their own fishery management plans. The Committee agreed that appropriate policy and legislation are necessary for allowing effective co-management and encouraged policy-makers to take this into account.
42. Effective communication is essential for enabling communities and government to effectively interact. The Committee emphasized the importance of providing awareness and training. In particular, attention should be paid to capacity building at local government levels to enable them to effectively interface with fishers groups and fishing communities.
43. The Committee requested further information regarding the APFIC co-management GIS database. The Secretariat explained that the database is currently being developed and that the intention is to eventually make this available on the APFIC website. Currently, other organizations are being contacted to provide their information on various sites.
44. The Committee endorsed the recommendations of the Workshops and encouraged APFIC to prioritize some key areas for an achievable plan of action through the Regional Consultative Forum Meeting. It requested the Secretariat to submit these for approval by the Commission at the 29th session.