Dr Somying Piumsomboon, Deputy Director General of the Department of Fisheries (DOF), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Royal Thailand Government opened the Workshop on behalf of DOF, Thailand. In her opening address (Annex IIa) she noted that it was timely that the workshop was being organized as many fish stocks are over-utilized and that fishing capacity and fishing effort exceeds the suitable level for resource sustainability. The illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, apart from undermining management measures, even further create threats and prevent the opportunity to reverse present practices to sustainable and responsible fisheries. She noted that these issues create a challenging task for all to establish collective actions for responsible fishing practices including mechanisms to reduce overcapacities, to combat IUU fishing and to ensure that fishery resources are utilized in a sustainable manner. She advocated regional measures based on the concepts stipulated in the international legal instruments and initiatives, including the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity.
She outlined Thailand's work on vessel reduction and its actions to curb IUU fishing. Two national meetings were organized this year to formulate the national master plan for management of marine capture fisheries. Additionally, Thailand is implementing the strategic actions to reduce the number of trawlers and push netters in the Gulf of Thailand.
Dr Somying wished the workshop every success and looked forward to an agreed action plan to address the issues that necessarily involves cooperation and partnership of all APFIC members, regional fishery bodies and other partners. She ended by wishing that participants have a pleasant stay in Phuket and also explore and enjoy the beautiful sceneries and the beauty of Phuket.
Mr Purwanto on behalf of the APFIC Chair, Prof Widi Prakito apologized for Prof Prakito's being unable to chair the meeting due to urgent international commitments. In his stead he welcomed all participants to the APFIC Regional Workshop on Managing Fishing Capacity and IUU Fishing in Asia.
Mr Purwanto, provided some comments on the state of fisheries and IUU fishing in particular in the region and in Indonesia, where there are an increasing tendency of overcapacity and IUU fishing. He pointed out that the Asian region contains a number of shared stocks that need to be managed collaboratively among countries in the region and some problems of IUU fishing also needed to be solve through regional cooperation. He stressed the need for a common and collaborative approach to manage fishing capacity and to combat IUU fishing in the region. He concluded by noting Indonesia's support of APFIC's endeavours to improve the management of fishing capacity and combat IUU fishing.
He highlighted one recent regional initiative to promote responsible fishing practices, including management of fishing capacity and combating IUU fishing, that has been undertaken by ten countries consisting of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam. These countries have formulated a "Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating IUU Fishing in the Region (RPOA)' that was endorsed by the Ministers responsible for fisheries of those ten countries during "Regional Ministerial Meeting on Promoting Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating IUU Fishing in the Region" held in Bali, Indonesia, on 4th May 2007. Mr Puwanto requested that the workshop participants be given a copy of the RPOA and joint ministerial statement.
Mr Purwanto also extended a welcome to the APFIC Executive Committee Members who will participate in the 71st Session of the APFIC Executive Committee to be held in Jakarta 20_22 August 2007 and welcomed all to the next Regional Consultative Forum meeting and 30th Session of APFIC to be held in Indonesia in 2008. (His welcome address is in Annex IIb).
Mr Simon Funge-Smith, Acting Secretary of APFIC welcomed all the participants to the workshop (his address is in Annex IIc). He explained that regional inter-sessional workshops on issues considered to be of major regional importance to the Commission have now become part of the Commission's biennial work plans. APFIC would be holding two workshops in this biennium, the current one on "Managing Fishing Capacity and IUU fishing in Asia" and another on "Aquaculture and Fisheries certification" to be held in Viet Nam. He outlined how the outputs of the workshop would be considered the APFIC biennial Consultative Forum Meeting and subsequent Commission session to be held in 2008, in Indonesia. As part of APFIC's role as a regional consultative forum, special effort was given to including regional partner organizations such as SEAFDEC, ICSF and SIFFS.
He pointed out that rapid development of the fisheries during the 1970s and 1980s has resulted, in many cases, in fisheries where the resource base has been severely depleted and the potential benefits from the fisheries are not being realized. Apart from a few wealthy investors, most people involved in fisheries are close to the poverty border line and do not gain much benefit from their activities. There are, therefore, many questions over the sustainability of these fisheries, as well as socio-economic and ethical concerns. He highlighted that the objective of the workshop is to take stock of where Asian fisheries are today and to chart out a future where fisheries can contribute much more significantly to the sustainable development of APFIC Member States. In concluding he thanked the Royal Thailand Government and the Department of Fisheries for their generous support for the workshop.