33. Based on the review paper presented in the previous agenda item, the Executive Committee discussed in depth the administrative issues which currently confront the operation of APFIC. These include: the issue of inactive membership of some countries; the clarification of geographical area where APFIC should prioritize its work; and the allocation of FAO Secretariat staff time for the functions of the Commission.
34. There are a number of APFIC member countries which are essentially inactive and do not participate in the sessions of the Commission. This lack of participation potentially constrains the Commission, which needs a two-thirds majority of its total membership (i.e. a quorum) to take decisions. This is also considered to unfairly constrain the work of the Commission for those members which are active and for whom the Commission's activities are important. The Executive Committee therefore considers this is an issue which should be addressed. The Secretariat requested the Executive Committee to give recommendations on how to address this issue.
35. The Executive Committee recalled that at its 29th Session, the Commission recommended that the Secretariat should proceed with reviewing the issue of membership and possible withdrawal of members that no longer wish to be part of the Commission. It was also suggested that a possible criterion for identifying inactive members would be non participation in three consecutive APFIC sessions, as suggested at the Twenty-ninth session (para. 131). The Executive Committee requested the Secretariat to look into the possibility of amending the rules of procedures of APFIC regarding the status of inactive members and the requirements for quorum in APFIC decisions, and requested that this would be reported back to the Commission at the Session. The Secretariat noted that a member's active status could be restored as soon as it participated in a subsequent Session of the Commission.
36. In the light of the Commission recommendation at its 29th Session, the Executive Committee recommended that FAO would write to member countries which had not participated in the last three Sessions of the Commission enquiring whether the country wished to continue its membership of APFIC. The Executive Committee also recommended the amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to address this issue, following consultation with the FAO legal department.
37. The Secretariat recalled that the Regular Programme of the FAO cannot support the travel costs for the participation of member countries to APFIC sessions. The Executive Committee recalled that in conformity with the APFIC agreement members shall participate at their own expense when attending Sessions of the Commission,
38. The issue of the geographical coverage of APFIC was addressed by the Executive Committee. As currently stated in the APFIC agreement that the Commission shall carry its functions and responsibilities in the Asia-Pacific Area. Following significant discussion, it was suggested that practically and for the purposes of its work, APFIC's area could be described as follows:
39. The Executive Committee agreed that this practical description of the area was consistent with the work of APFIC and noted the recommendation that APFIC should not have a management function. It further agreed that this should be compatible with the area of competence and work of other regional fisheries management organizations. The Executive Committee emphasized that it was crucial that the APFIC Secretariat and its members to coordinate their efforts to ensure that there is no overlap with the work of other regional organizations (e.g. CCAMLR, IOTC, WCPFC), but instead ensure compatibility. The Executive Committee also noted that inland waters are generally under the managerial responsibility of a single sovereign country, a notable exception being the Mekong River, which is dealt with by Mekong River Commission. APFIC can still work on inland fisheries relating to matters of common interest of its members
40. In addressing ways to improve the activities of members in initiating their own action in response to the recommendations of the Commission, the Executive Committee recommended the following approaches be considered:
41. It was noted that the Secretariat currently has two technical officers assigned part time and therefore has more of a monitoring and facilitating function. It noted that the Secretariat should not become heavily involved in direct implementation.