Ichiro Nomura, FAO Department of Fisheries
5. The keynote address of the Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN) highlighted that the development of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific region has been characterized by successive waves of "boom and bust" activities. In the case of fisheries this development is one where, one by one, stocks and habitats were exploited by new and more effective fishing techniques to supply the rapidly increasing demand and markets for fish. This began with the boom and subsequent decline of pearling in the 1800s, trawling in the 1960s, and purse seining for small pelagics in the 1970s. However, about a decade ago a point was reached where there were very few new underexploited stocks or areas for fleets to develop. In the case of aquaculture, although the sector has shown remarkable growth in some parts of the region, this has also been characterized by rapid shifts in technology and species farmed - the most recent one being the emergence of an imported species of white shrimp becoming the dominant aquaculture product. However, there are now many constraints on the further development of aquaculture, including the limitations on areas to expand and on the supply of aquaculture food.
6. The history of APFIC also reflects the history of the development of fisheries and aquaculture. In its formative years (1949-1962) it promoted research and better administration of its members. In the second phase (1962-1980), it promoted fisheries development. In its third phase (1980-2006), APFIC increased its efforts to promote better fisheries management and rational development. However, although many global instruments and tools were put in place to guide this process, effective management remains an elusive goal.
7. Mr Nomura remarked that APFIC and FAO would now like to see a fourth phase - one of effective management and sustainable development. The need to reform fisheries and aquaculture is urgent - there is simply no other choice. This RCFM is an attempt by APFIC to facilitate this change. It will consider several issues that have resulted from the "boom and bust" nature of the sector (e.g. the increasing share in production of low value/trash fisheries) and ways to improve management (e.g. through co-management). It is intended that it will guide the policy development of the sector and develop strong actions to address the challenges that confront it. The text of the keynote address can be found in Annex V.