The Asian region accounts for about 50 percent of global wild capture fisheries production and about 90 percent of aquaculture production. The sustainable management of these fisheries resources, therefore, is an activity of global importance as well as being critical to countries of the region. However, the history of exploitation of wild fish stocks of the region has been one of sequential overexploitation, open access fisheries and low profitability. Despite this history, there has been a growing recognition in recent years of the need to manage fish stocks for long-term sustainability. This regional synthesis summarizes information, based on responses to questionnaires sent to 15 countries of the region and previously available information, on the current status of the management of fishing capacity and how countries of the region are addressing illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing by both national and foreign fleets.
National Plans of Action (NPOAs) on fishing capacity in the region are now more common than in 2002 and some progress has been reported in attempting to assess fishing capacity in major fisheries, particularly small-scale fisheries. In addition, the number of specific capacity reduction programmes undertaken in the region has increased since 2002, again with the emphasis on small-scale fisheries. However, the effectiveness, on a regional scale, of these initiatives is not yet apparent since fishing capacity in both industrial scale and small-scale fisheries has continued to rise in the region and is now, on average, 12.5 percent above 2002 levels. Production has also decreased in the majority of fisheries for which data were provided. A lack of policy and operational tools in the region was highlighted by many countries, with only 50 percent of the major fisheries having management plans. Methods for measuring fishing capacity, such as vessel licensing systems or census data, and catch and effort data systems are often being poorly developed and monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) capabilities generally inadequate. IUU remains a major issue to be addressed although the recent Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission (APFIC) "call for action" and the Regional Plan of Action for Responsible Fisheries, signed by 11 countries, may provide a template for regional action and coordination on this.