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Alessandro Lovatelli, FAO

Participants attending the Third Session of the Commission (RECOFI)

Third Session of the Regional Commission for Fisheries (RECOFI)

Doha, Qatar, 9 – 11 May 2005

Alessandro Lovatelli1

The Third Session of the Regional Commission for Fisheries (RECOFI) was held in Doha, State of Qatar, from 9 to 11 May 2005. All eight member countries were represented in this session as well as observers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the WorldFish Center. The Commission reviewed the activities that have taken place during the intersessional period, in particular those related to the implementation of the recommendations of the Second Session as well as meetings of the RECOFI Working Group on Aquaculture (WGA). The Commission adopted its programme of work and budget as well as a number of decisions and recommendations on several issues, including those related to aquaculture in the RECOFI area.

The Secretariat presented a summary of the status of aquaculture in the RECOFI Member countries. The total aquaculture output in 2003 was estimated at around 108000tonnes representing an increase exceeding 28percent from the 1999 total of approximately 40000 tonnes. Such growth was also visible in terms of a steady increase in the production share coming from aquaculture in relation to the total annual output of the whole industry. It was noted that total production from capture fisheries had grown at a much lower rate over the last decade.

Inland aquaculture currently accounts for over 80percent of the total aquaculture production with four carp species accounting for 58 percent of the total production in 2003. However, mariculture was the fastest growing sector making up for nearly 20 percent of the production in 2003. The majority of this consisted of Indian white shrimp (Penaeus indicus) with Saudi Arabia (9160 tonnes) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (7462 tonnes) as the major producers. Commercial-scale production of the exotic Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and the native Sobaity seabream (Sparidentex hasta) have increased in recent years with more countries in the Region reporting production.

During the Session, the Secretariat presented a document on the progress made with regards to the establishment of the RECOFI Aquaculture Information System (RAIS). The development of a regional information system had been requested by the Member countries during the Second Session of the Commission in response to the rapid development of aquaculture in the Region. At the same meeting, the Government of Kuwait expressed their strong interest in hosting the RAIS Regional Centre and subsequently confirmed that they would provide the necessary funds to develop the system through the FAO Fisheries Department. A prototype of the system has since been developed and was presented to the RECOFI WGA Focal Points during their second meeting held in Muscat, Oman, from 28–30 November 2005. The RAIS will be developed as soon as the funds are made available.

In relation to its aquaculture initiatives, a regional project proposal to strengthen the legal and policy framework for aquaculture in the RECOFI Member countries was also presented at the Session. The project proposal preparatory mission took place from 13 to 26 March 2005. The mission visited Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the policy, institutional and legal framework for aquaculture in the RECOFI Member countries in order to increase the contribution of the sector to the economy and food security, and to develop and manage the sector in a sustainable manner. The final project proposal was further discussed at the second meeting of the RECOFI WGA. FAO reiterated its commitment to cooperate and to provide technical support to the implementation of this activity.

Among other activities discussed were: (i) the concern of several Member countries over the introduction of exotic species by individual countries which could impact the entire region, and (ii) the need to further discuss issues related to marine stock enhancement and artificial reefs.

Further details and copies of the report (FAO Regional Office for the Near East. Report of the third session of the Regional Commission for Fisheries, 2005. Doha, Qatar, 9–11 May 2005. FAO Fisheries Report. No. 783. Rome, FAO. 18p. (Bilingual version English/Arabic) can be obtained by writing to:

Alessandro Lovatelli at FIRI

Alessandro Lovatelli, FAO

Representatives of the RECOFI Secretariat and RECOFI Working Group on Aquaculture (From left: Mr A. Lovatelli -FAO, Rome; Mr D. Suleiman Al-Yahyai -WGA Focal Point in Oman; Mr V. Crespi -FAO, Rome; Mr A.R.J. Shams -WGA Focal Point in Bahrain)

Alessandro Lovatelli, FAO

Fresh brown spotted grouper (Epinephelus tauvina)on sale at the central fish market in Doha, Qatar

1 Alessandro Lovatelli
RECOFI-WGA Technical Secretary
Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service,
FAO Fisheries Department, Rome

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