15. The Executive Committee discussed the agenda item referring to document APFIC:ExCo/07/03 and APFIC:ExCo/07/Inf.5. The Executive Committee was informed of the results from the FAO Twenty-seventh Session of the Committee of Fisheries (COFI). At this meeting, FAO was called upon by member countries to play a key role in cooperation amongst Regional Fisheries Management Organizations. COFI noted that the lack of management organizations in the Bay of Bengal, the South China Sea, the Yellow Sea and other small ecosystems in the region continues to constrain effective fisheries management.
16. The Executive Committee agreed that one aspect of APFIC's work is to encourage better communication and sharing of information and agreed that a key role for APFIC was to promote and support increased cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture management in the region.
17. The role of Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) such as APFIC and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO's) has been discussed both in FAO and other fora. It is recognized that RFB's and RFMO's can and will play an important role in the development of fisheries management at a regional level. Key issues are small-scale fisheries, IUU fishing, port state measures, vessels registration and overcapacity, and work on an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.
18. The Executive Committee recommended that APFIC members interested in working with any of these areas or projects should contact FAO/APFIC for further information.
19. Led by APFIC members countries, Indonesia and Australia; a series of Senior Officer's Meetings and a Ministerial Meeting have been convened, to develop a "Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) to promote responsible fishing practices including combating IUU fishing in the region". In the RPOA, it is recognized that Regional Organizations such as APFIC will play a key role in implementing the RPOA's with focus on technical input, development of guidelines, capacity building, sharing data and information and to strengthen regional networking. The Ministerial endorsement of the RPOA was concluded on 2_4 May 2007 in Bali, Indonesia and is appended to this report as Appendix D.
20. The Executive Committee commented that strong political will and commitment has already been given to RPOA and that the need now is to strongly focus on the implementation of its contents.
21. The Executive Committee endorsed the participation of APFIC's collaboration with member countries to implement the RPOA and its support in awareness raising and capacity building activities related to implementation.
22. The SEAFDEC Governing Council has supported a proposal to establish a Regional Scientific Advisory Committee (RSAC) for Fisheries management in Southeast Asia in response to the need for improving fisheries management particularly addressing issues related to fishing capacity and IUU fishing. The Executive Committee endorsed the participation of APFIC in advising SEAFDEC in the establishment and terms of reference of the RSAC.
23. FAO has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CITES to provide scientific information as part of the listing process. FAO has supported the listing of Anguilla anguilla (European eel) and saw fishes Pristidae spp. It was noted that several APFIC countries would investigate importing Anguilla japonica or other Anguilla species as an alternative to the European eel.
24. The Executive Committee highlighted the importance of APFIC members being aware of the work of CITES and also to communicate with FAO on matters of importance related to fisheries and aquaculture which might be relevant to the deliberations of CITES.
25. The Executive Committee noted further that vessel registration was a way to manage fisheries and a worthwhile approach. It was encouraged that IMO and FAO/APFIC should coordinate efforts on vessel registration to make it cover both large and smaller fishing vessels. Indonesia noted that there is already an ongoing project on vessels registration in Indonesia were more than 95 percent of the fishing fleet is small-scale. APFIC might be able to facilitate access to funds for further efforts to register the smaller vessels.
26. The Executive Committee was informed that the introduction of Port State Measures, as
a means of controlling IUU fishing, was ongoing and that the upcoming meeting in Washington DC on 4_8 September 2007 was a first step towards the development of a legally binding instrument as agreed during COFI-27.
27. The Executive Committee noted that development in fisheries and aquaculture is moving very fast and there is increasing pressure from the international community to comply with existing international rules and regulations. Several APFIC members have informed APFIC Secretariat of the need for assitance and capacity building in this and other areas related to compliance with international instruments. The special issues of the APFIC region related to a large small-scale fishery sector and huge numbers of small vessels were commented upon. The Executive Committee commented that this will require prioritization of activities and a focus on those which will deliver the highest impact.
28. The Executive Committee agreed that APFIC could support members through focussed awareness raising workshops on these emerging matters of regional and international interest.