Mr Derek Staples, Senior Fishery Officer of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific presented the objectives of the workshop. He emphasized that the workshop would be looking for a clear and frank review of the issues that faced tsunami rehabilitation and the future needs in this respect.
Mr Staples continued with a short review of the six strategic elements of the CONSRN Regional Strategic Framework. The CONSRN consortium was founded with the view to providing support to tsunami affected countries with a focus on the fishery sector. The vision of the consortium was to assist in rehabilitation which would:
Contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods and food security;
Be based on good management and governance;
Recognize sustainable limits of harvesting natural resources;
Take a holistic view of coastal ecosystems;
Would emphasize a well integrated supply chain; harvest - consumer.
The six elements within the CONSRN rehabilitation strategy are:
1. Improving policy and institutions;
2. Providing appropriate physical assets;
3. Restoring the environment (while ensuring equitable access);
4. Providing appropriate financial support;
5. Improving capacity in support of community livelihoods, responsible coastal resource management;
6. Rebuilding of social assets.
Mr Staples informed the participants that the purpose of the CONSRN regional workshop One year later - The rehabilitation of fisheries and aquaculture in coastal communities of tsunami affected countries in Asia was to review progress against these elements and recommend future directions for addressing outstanding needs and achievement of national strategic policies.
Reviewing the progress against the strategic elements from the perspective of the CONSRN Consortium, Mr Staples summarized how the countries with CONSRN partners assistance had contributed to policy direction and strengthening of institutions, regarding tsunami rehabilitation. Capacity building and the strengthening of fisheries management institutions has now started to emerge as on the ground action and would be the basis for much future work. Regarding the promotion of integrated costal planning and management, Mr Staples noted that several countries had such approaches as part of their rehabilitation activities but that there was still much to do in this respect. Systematic damage and needs assessments have been carried out, however, there were issues concerning the value and use of these assessments outside of the organizations that carried them out. There was also a general lack of coordination between different assessments of needs. In addition, the assessments had also been over-focussed on replacement of assets and inputs and less on rehabilitation needs.
The strategic element regarding the provision of appropriate physical assets has been the focus of debate in the fishery sector and, in particular, the extent to which fishing vessels had been replaced in excess of reported losses. The appropriateness of replaced assets has also been commented on, for example, instances where the assets replaced have been of limited immediate use to the beneficiaries, or had not been addressed to immediate needs. He also noted that there has been limited evaluation of the impact and effect of the asset replacement to date.
Restoration of the natural environment focussed on ensuring sustainable management and equitable access to inputs. Mr Staples commented that this appears to have been partially successful in some focussed interventions. The issues of movement or relocation of fishers and communities and establishment of buffer zones had been contentious. However, many of the decisions that relate to this issue lie outside the mandate of the fisheries institutions involved in rehabilitation. Ecosystem restoration has had less attention as there appeared to have been relatively limited direct impact of the tsunami on ecosystems.
There have been some activities carried out with the objective of restoration of habitats in some locations. The cleaning of coral reefs or replanting of mangrove trees and establishment of buffer zones is probably the most significant activity in this regard. There are currently ongoing discussions as to how appropriate and useful this may be in regard to coastal protection from tsunami. There have been technical issues raised, which relate to the selection of restoration sites and the use of inappropriate species.
Assessment of the impact of the tsunami on fisheries stocks, indicates that changes in fish distribution may have occurred, but that overall, the stocks are intact and species composition remains relatively unchanged.
In order to ensure that seed and broodstock for aquaculture come from sustainable sources, hatcheries have been restored to production, although the practice of sourcing broodstock from the wild does not appear to have changed significantly.
Ensuring that appropriate financial mechanisms are made available during rehabilitation is an ongoing effort. The review of existing financial mechanisms has yet to be undertaken in a comprehensive manner. The control of loans for large scale vessels appears to have occurred in some countries and there has been little large vessel construction as a result. There have been difficulties in accessing finance and loans for those who lost assets and lacked collateral to take out loans. The establishment of an enabling environment for the financial/credit sector has yet to be systematically addressed, but is occurring at local level in community strengthening activities. The provision of financial support to harvesting operations has occurred whilst support to other links in the supply and value chains has been limited.
Building capacity for livelihoods and sustainable management of resources has been undertaken and the strengthening of communities through participatory and holistic approaches has occurred in some projects. Ensuring that communities are empowered and involved in the planning of rehabilitation has been a fundamental part of the implementation approach of many agencies. However, there has been a lack of general coordination between organizations regarding geographic areas and approaches. Coverage of relief has not been comprehensive with some areas receiving relatively more attention than others.
The CONSRN agencies response in support of implementation of the regional strategic framework has seen extensive collaboration and sharing of information between the partners. Collaborative work to ensure coherent rehabilitation plans has been quite successful in terms of idea sharing and development of best practices. However, collective mobilization of resources has been limited by the nature of funding agency priorities and delivery approaches. Joint implementation of plans has been partially successful and field activities have depended on the approach of the different partners. A flagship programme has been developed but has yet to find donor support.
In summary, Mr Staples concluded there had been good progress made over the past year and that the CONSRN partners have provided significant support to governments both collectively or individually, but that much remains to be done. He concluded that the workshop would enable the discussion and sharing of opinion over what remains to be done along with prioritisation. In particular, the workshop should look at how rehabilitation could proceed now that the emergency is over and how CONSRN could facilitate action on this.