31. The status on the activities related to marine stock enhancement and artificial reefs in the region was discussed by the WGA as requested by the Commission at its third session in Doha. The Focal Point for Qatar mentioned that the Supreme Council of Environment and the Qatar University have started working on concrete artificial reefs placed in sandy bottoms and that the monitoring programme was continuing. Mr Saif briefly reported on the difficulties in monitoring the restocking activities of Metapenaeus semisulcatus in the waters of Kuwait.
32. The WGA Chairperson reminded the experts that at the last session of the Commission Bahrain had accepted hosting a technical meeting on the subject matter. It was noted that even though only some of the countries have started such activities, all agreed on the importance of this issue in light of dwindling fisheries resources. It was also noted that the two activities may have a shared jurisdiction by both aquaculture and fisheries. The discussion also considered the possibility of splitting the two subjects and concentrating on the stock enhancement issue.
33. It was decided to proceed with preparations for an ad hoc meeting on both issues to be held in Bahrain in early September 2006 following the FAO COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture (New Delhi, India, 4–8 September 2006). It was further agreed that the meeting would be held back-to-back with the Third meeting of the WGA. The Chairperson and the Technical Secretary of the WGA where requested to prepare the agenda for this technical meeting and the terms of reference for selected international experts to be invited. The cost of participation of technical experts would be investigated in due course. Options included participation from FAO experts and private companies engaged in these technical areas.
34. The WGA Chairperson stressed the importance of each country appointing a Focal Point and his/her alternate and to ensure the attendance of the WGA meetings by the same experts so as to ensure the positive influence on the effectiveness of such meetings. It was also noted that a number of countries had made their official appointments. The experts from Kuwait and Iraq were requested to follow-up with their nominations for both posts with the RECOFI Secretariat. Saudi Arabia and Iran (Islamic Republic of) were requested to nominate their Alternate Focal Point. The Focal Point of the United Arab Emirates presented the nomination of his Alternate at the meeting (Mr Thomas Cherian).
35. All participants were requested to send their official nominations in writing to the RECOFI Secretariat and the WGA Chairperson along with their address and full contact details. Furthermore, the WGA Chairperson suggested that the Alternate Focal Points would not be required to participate in the meetings of the WGA, but would need to be fully informed on the activities, recommendations and actions taken by the Working Group.
36. It was agreed that the Third meeting of the WGA would be held in Manama, Bahrain, in September 2006 back-to-back with the technical meeting on marine stock enhancement and artificial reefs. The WGA Focal Points would be approached in due course by the Chairperson to fix the exact dates.
37. The Technical Secretary presented options of the new RECOFI logo developed and modified following the discussions held during the First WGA meeting held in Manama, Bahrain (18–20 April 2004). The new logo included a map of the RECOFI region with both Gulfs clearly visible. It was agreed that only one logo should exist for the Commission rather than separate ones for the Commission and its working groups. The WGA experts voted for the logo (Logo “A”) which has the outer ring text on a white background. It was nevertheless decided to make a few minor colour grading alterations and present both versions to the next Commission session for formal adoption. The logos appear in Appendix J.
38. With specific regards to the preparation of the National Aquaculture Sector Overviews (NASOs) for all RECOFI members, the WGA Chairperson informed all Focal Points that the FAO Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service (FIRI) is reviewing the documents and may forward them back to the authors for further data and information inputs if required. The experts were invited to take immediate action upon receipt of the documents and to return them to FAO with the missing and corrected information. The group was further informed that once the NASOs contained all the required information they would be properly edited, translated in the five official languages of FAO, placed on the FAO Web site and eventually on the RAIS Web site when available.
39. The WGA Chairperson invited the FIRI Aquaculture Information Officer (MrValerio Crespi) to provide an updated list on the preparation of the NASOs for the region so that he could assist with follow-up actions with the different Focal Points.
40. In view of an increase need to strengthen regional aquaculture cooperation and information exchange, the WGA expressed the importance to tie links with other organizations engaged in the sector. The experts invited the WGA Chairperson and Technical Secretary to specifically contact NACA to explore grounds for future collaboration particularly in the area of technical training. Learning and exchanging knowledge on progress made on grouper culture in South East Asia was one example raised by the group.
41. The expert from Oman highlighted the importance to exchange among the RECOFI members information of new research projects and publications in order to assist the countries to establish joint research activities and sharing of results. In this regard, the importance of promptly establishing the RAIS was reinforced. The Focal Point of Iran (Islamic Republic of) encouraged seeking training exchanges through the FAO Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) mechanism.
42. The WGA Focal Point of Qatar delivered a presentation on the establishment of the new Aquaculture Centre providing details on all sections of the future centre. The centre will provide technical and training assistance to the private sector so as to encourage the sector to grow as well as to produce fingerlings for restocking programmes.
43. A field visit to the Marine Sciences and Fisheries Centre (MSFC) and Fish Quality Centre was organized by the WGA Focal Point of Oman. The MSFC was established in 1986 mainly to investigate the spawning season of commercially important species and for conducting stock assessments and aquaculture farming activities. The centre is working with a number of species including abalone (Haliotis mariae), the exotic Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and yellow tail tuna. The centre also studies traditional fishing gear and boats and carries out project to improve their efficiency and selectivity. The FQC was established under a cooperation agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and is engaged in assuring the quality of fish exports mainly to the European markets.
44. The WGA requested the Secretariat to publish the report of this meeting along with the previous meeting reports related to the activities of the RECOFI WGA as a FAO Fisheries Report.
45. The Secretariat staff, on behalf of all the RECOFI WGA experts, expressed their appreciation to the Government of the Sultanate of Oman for hosting the Second meeting of the RECOFI WGA and for its hospitality and excellent facilities and services provided.
46. The Chairperson thanked all participants for their hard work in finalizing the objectives of the Working Group and adjourned the meeting. The Report was subsequently adopted through email exchanges on Thursday 22 December 2005.