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Fishery and aquaculture policy direction in APFIC countries

Graeme Macfadyen, Poseidon Aquatic Resources Management Ltd.

108. A policy review of member countries was undertaken to provide a regional synthesis of topical policy issues and to consider key policy drivers. The methodology used was to examine national policy documents and legislation and to score key policies issues according to the extent to which they were mentioned and/or detailed in these documents. This scoring process enabled data on these key policy issues to be presented in a standardized format.

109. Generally, most countries have appropriate and comprehensive policy directions although trade-offs between alternative policies are not often mentioned. There is some question about whether stated policies are realistic given the apparent status of some fish resources (e.g. inshore coastal fish stocks). Also, there is often a lack of detail as to the practical and realistic implementation of stated policies although strategy documents and master plans provide additional details in some countries. Most policy documents reviewed have provision for regular reviews, which provide opportunities for revisions. Key findings of the review were as follows:

110. There is still a need in some countries to develop specific fishery policies. There may be conflicting national policies between fishery and aquaculture subsectors and with other activities (e.g. trade conservation, environment).

111. There are inconsistencies between national policies of countries (particularly neighbouring countries), which would benefit from a degree of harmonization. There is a lack of reference in many national policies to international and bilateral arrangements.

112. Major challenges exist in many countries with respect to operationalizing fisheries policy, and in the detailed planning required for implementation of policy, i.e. specification of activities, allocation of responsibilities, use of indicators, provision of appropriate budgets, etc. Targets for increasing capture fisheries may be based more on goals related to increasing production or may be based more on economic planning goals rather than sustainable use of resources and a realistic assessment about resource potential. Where fisheries management is in place in the region, the costs are increasing. However, policies in the region do not always specifically indicate where revenue could be obtained.

113. Targets for aquaculture production may not reflect future challenges and potential future resource constraints (as well as opportunities for increasing aquaculture production). Most policies in the region refer to the expansion of offshore fisheries, even though the potential of offshore resources and the economic viability is, in many cases, not well known.

114. Most policies refer to the need to increase value-added in the context of pre-harvest and post-harvest activities, but there is less mention of the need/ability to increase value-added throughout the supply chain (especially at the harvesting level) and in related activities. Most policy documents include provisions for subsidies and traceability or certification measures. However, there is little mention in policy documents of tariff barriers, reduced subsidies or support for use charges.

115. Although most policies refer to both poverty alleviation and increases in exports as key objectives, few are specific about the need to address distributional aspects and impacts of trade. Microfinance (a form of credit) is increasingly recognised as an important tool in bringing about poverty alleviation, but is not widely referred to in fishery policies in the region.

116. The forum discussed whether the issue of food security was defined sufficiently well in policy documents. In addition, it was questioned whether it was realistic or appropriate to have a goal of sustaining or increasing employment in an environment where there are declining resources.

Development and poverty reduction strategies in the APFIC region: integrating fisheries into the development discourse

Andy Thorpe, University of Portsmouth

117. Mr Thorpe emphasized that as Asia is the foremost capture fishery and aquaculture producer in the world, there is every reason to expect that this importance would be reflected in the national development discourse. The socio-economic importance of fisheries in the region in terms of their contribution to primary exports, domestic protein consumption, employment and the incidence of poverty within fishing communities was examined.

118. Fisheries and aquaculture are not often considered in government development and poverty reduction policy and the study examined the key issue of whether the fisheries sector is included in poverty reduction and national development plans in APFIC countries. Four questions were posed and a scoring system developed to rate countries' responses. The questions posed of the poverty reduction and national development plans were:

119. The study also considered whether the likelihood of inclusion in a poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) was affected by the size/importance of the national fisheries sector and to what extent fisheries are a 'motor of growth'. The methodology used was the plotting of fish consumption (as a proportion of total protein consumption) against fisheries exports as a proportion of total agricultural exports. This revealed that in countries where fisheries are less important, the sector is less likely to be mentioned in PRSP and national development plans (NDPs). In countries where fishers are an important group (i.e. fisheries is a refuge for the poor) there is an increased likelihood that the sector will be included in PRSP and NDPs. Importantly, it was shown that APFIC countries score higher in including fisheries in PRSPs and NDPs than other regions.

120. To further increase the prominence of fisheries and aquaculture issues in national development and poverty reduction plans, it was suggested, based on experience from other sectors, that:

Integrating fisheries into large marine ecosystem/regional seas arrangements

Chris Paterson, United Nations Environment Programme/Global Environment Facility (UNEP/GEF)
South China Sea Project
Xianshi Jin, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute
In Kwon Jang, West Sea Fisheries Research Institute

121. Three presentations were made covering large marine ecosystem initiatives in the APFIC region. The need to integrate fisheries issues into broader frameworks for marine resource and environmental management has recently received high-level international recognition. Several initiatives including the UNEP Regional Seas Programme, and others based on the concepts of large marine ecosystems (LMEs) and marine protected areas (MPAs), have been introduced over recent decades as mechanisms for improving the integration of fisheries and environmental management.

122. The medium term objective of the UNEP/GEF South China Sea Project to elaborate and agree at an inter-governmental level, the Regional Strategic Action Programme, has necessitated the development of a conduit for merging fisheries issues with actions aimed at improving environmental management in areas of the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. An important area of work of the UNEP/GEF Regional Working Group on Fisheries is the establishment of a regional system of fisheries refugia based on areas of critical importance to fished species. The aims of such a system are: (a) to improve the understanding amongst stakeholders of ecosystem and fishery linkages, as a basis for integrated fisheries and habitat management, and (b) to build the capacity of fisheries ministries and departments to ensure that fisheries issues are integrated into overall marine management frameworks.

123. Another important area of work is the review of fishery resources. In the Yellow Sea, analysis shows that increasing levels of fishing effort over the last half century have greatly impacted the abundance and composition of fishery resources. In the 1950s, the economically important species were small yellow croaker (Pseudosciaena polyactis), large head hairtail (Trichiurus haumela) and fleshy prawn (Fenneropenaeus chinensis) etc. With the increase of fishing effort, the abundance of these species declined one after the other. In the early 1970s, the stock of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) exploded and became a major fishing target in 1972 leading to depletion within a few years. In the 1980s, the stocks of some other pelagic fish like half fin anchovy (Setipinna taty), Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus), chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) and Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius) showed increases, with Japanese anchovy becoming most abundant in the mid-1980s. In recent years, however, this stock declined to a low level.

124. Another important area of work is the reduction of environmental stress on the Yellow Sea LME through the adoption of better mariculture practices. This work consisted of an initial assessment of the environmental impact of mariculture during the last decade, followed by an applied research programme and pilot demonstration activities of improved culture practices with lower environmental impacts.

125. In the area of integrated coastal governance, the Yellow Sea LME promotes activities such as the establishment of coastal green belts, the designation of wetland conservation, reserve islands, wildlife conservation and ecosystem conservation areas, as well as the management of special areas for acceptable coastal pollutant levels.

Recommendations of the APFIC Regional Consultative Forum

National fisheries and aquaculture sector policy

126. The APFIC regional consultative forum noted that in most cases countries in the APFIC region have 'good policy content' and elements of 'best practice' contained within their fisheries and aquaculture policies.

127. All policies in Asian APFIC countries refer to the need to tackle illegal fishing and propose the use of reserves or (marine) protected areas or similar area-based restrictions. Almost all policies in the region state food security, poverty alleviation, \community/co-management, decentralization, capacity reduction, improvements in administrative efficiency, and cross-sectoral collaboration as policy objectives.

However, the APFIC regional consultative forum also noted a number of concerns with respect to policy in the region.

Policy gaps

Implementation issues

Poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) and national development plans (NDPs)

128. The forum noted that, in general, the fisheries sector is relatively well-covered in national PRSPs and NDPs, especially in countries where: (i) fisheries exports make up a large proportion of agricultural exports; (ii) fisheries make a large contribution to domestic protein requirements; (iiii) there are large numbers employed in the fisheries sector; and (iv) there is a high level of rural poverty.

However, the APFIC regional consultative forum:

Regional environmental management of large marine ecosystems (LMEs)

129. Ensuring the effective inclusion of fisheries issues into broader frameworks for marine management is an emerging policy challenge for the region. Efforts to meet this challenge are constrained by:

130. The APFIC regional consultative forum noted that regional experience suggests that overcoming these challenges will require:

131. Conduits for integrating fisheries into overall management frameworks should:

132. Experience indicates that the LME programmes engage in specific useful aspects of fisheries management, however, they do not deal with some of the most important aspects such as capacity management. It is suggested that LME programmes should make an effort to incorporate important fisheries management actions into their programmes.

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