Madam Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the opening ceremony of the FAO Regional Workshop on the Elaboration of National Plans of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the Caribbean subregion and to bring you the greetings of the Director-General of FAO, Dr Jacques Diouf. I also extend this welcome to you on behalf of Mr Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Fisheries Department, FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy.
The convening of this third Workshop in a series to be held in different subregions has involved a real team effort on the part of the staff from the FAO Fisheries Department in Rome, their counterparts from the Subregional Office for the Caribbean in Barbados and the FAO Office in Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed, our colleagues from Barbados, working closely with staff from the fishery administrations in the region, have been responsible for the logistical aspects of the Workshop. To all those persons who have worked so diligently and hard to facilitate this event please, accept my heartfelt thanks.
We are all aware that IUU fishing occurs in all capture fisheries, in both small-scale and large-scale fisheries. It has been a focus of attention in FAO for many years but over the past 5 years the focus has become clearer and more defined. IUU fishing has already been addressed in a number of fora within FAO including the Committee on Fisheries, the FAO Council and the FAO Conference.
Many of you are aware that the international community has identified IUU fishing to be a major impediment to achieving sustainable fisheries and, as a result, an issue that should be combated with priority. For this reason, FAO Members decided in 2001 to adopt, within the framework of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, a voluntary instrument to deal with IUU fishing: the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU).
The IPOA-IUU has a broad scope. It seeks to deal with IUU fishing in a holistic and structured manner. The IPOA-IUU contains a number of measures that can be applied flexibly at the national and regional levels to address IUU fishing because it is recognized that not all of its measures are applicable in all countries and in all capture fisheries.
The IPOA-IUU contains seven different types of measures that might be applied individually or in combination against IUU fishing. These measures should be implemented by governments and interested stakeholders, particularly industry, fishing communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). FAOs role is to promote and galvanize action against IUU fishing and IUU fishers rather than intervening directly in the implementation process. Direct intervention is the responsibility of all countries.
Paragraphs 25 to 27 of the IPOA-IUU call on States to elaborate NPOAs-IUU, as soon as possible, but not later than June 2004. These national plans are the vehicles to implement the IPOA-IUU. However, to date, only about 12 countries have prepared and disseminated NPOAs-IUU even though FAO is aware that many other countries and some regional fishery bodies are addressing different aspects of IUU fishing. Unfortunately, no country in the Caribbean subregion has yet developed its NPOA-IUU and forwarded a copy to FAO. Hopefully, this situation will change after the workshop when participants return to their respective fishery administrations.
According to recent information available to FAO, the incidence of IUU fishing is increasing. In 2003, the FAO Conference adopted a Resolution concerning progress with the implementation of the IPOA-IUU. The Resolution noted, inter alia, the continuing high and growing incidence of IUU fishing and related activities and a lack of political will and capacity by some governments to deal effectively with such fishing. The Resolution also noted a lack of commitment by some States with respect to IUU fishing to meet their obligations under international law. For these and other reasons, the FAO Conference urged States and RFMOs to take direct and indirect action against IUU fishing on all fronts.
Some Members have advised FAO that their efforts to implement the IPOA-IUU are being constrained by a lack of financial and human capacity. These constraints, in turn, inhibit the development of NPOAs-IUU, the national cornerstones in the implementation process. Through workshops such as this one, FAO is attempting to fill a capacity gap in a practical manner by working with countries to improve the skills needed to prepare their NPOAs-IUU.
The IUU fishing problem is large, has many dimensions and is extremely dynamic. For this reason, there is no room for complacency and concerted efforts are required to ensure that the IPOA-IUU is implemented fully and effectively. I stress that the preparation and implementation of NPOAs-IUU is a key and pivotal element in this process.
This regional Workshop was also organized with the assistance of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to support the member countries of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) in the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the associated Plan of Action on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU).
Madam Chairperson, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for their assistance and support in organizing this Workshop. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has always collaborated with FAO in the implementation of regional activities and projects and we in FAO are sure that such close collaboration and excellent relationship will continue. An example of one current regional project that is not related to fisheries is the FAO/CARICOM/Government of Italy-funded project on Promoting Food Security and Food Safety in the CARIFORUM countries. The basic goal of this project is to promote food security at the national and community levels through the establishment of sustainable food security policies, programmes and food production and consumption strategies.
Madam Chairperson, in closing, I wish the Workshop success in their deliberations over the next five days. I urge the participants do all within their capabilities to put in place NPOAs on IUU fishing, after they return to their respective administrations. Remember that the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its related International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing is very important for food security and for livelihoods for both current and future generations.
Madam Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen, I also wish to thank you for your attention.