Two partners – Australian Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) made presentations concerning their current activities.
The representative from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries presented an overview of the Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating IUU Fishing in the Region (RPOA). The workshop was advised that the Fisheries Ministers of 10 countries- Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam – had agreed to a collective approach for promoting more responsible fisheries in Bali, 4th May 2007. The plan covered the South China Sea, Sulu-Sulawesi Seas and the Arafura-Timor Seas.
The RPOA objective is to enhance and strengthen the overall level of fisheries management in the region to sustain fisheries resources and the marine environment. He noted that it was a voluntary instrument that takes its principles from existing international fisheries instruments including the FAO IPOAs. The RPOA outlines the current resource and management situation in the region and calls for joint work to compile an overview of artisanal and industrial fishing, current status of fish stocks, trade flows and markets.
As a first critical step it encourages countries of the region to ratify, accede, accept fully UNCLOS and UNFSA, relevant RFMO agreements and relevant other multilateral agreements and established international instruments – UNCLOS, UNFSA, FAO Codes, Agreements and IPOAs. Full text of the RPOA is at Annex IV.
The major components of the RPOA are
In discussion, the motivation for taking regional action was questioned and the discussion focused on how this region came to realise the seriousness of the current situation and the need for pre-emptive action such as outlined in the RPOA. The possible next steps for the implementation of the RPOA were also discussed. It was agreed that this Workshop offered a timely opportunity to both assess existing work on related areas and for moving forward.
The workshop discussed the difficult challenge of trying to both reduce capacity whilst enabling developing states to develop their fishing activities. The importance of changing the behaviour of fishermen was considered critical and in cases where issues such as the traditional cross-boarder fishing activities of artisanal fishers, the need to negotiate and formalize arrangements was noted.
SEAFDEC shared their plans for improving fisheries management in general and addressing the issues of overcapacity and overfishing. SEAFDEC future programme is focusing on overcapacity, especially on the need to have practical ways of understanding and communicating with fishermen, how capacity is built, and the use of rights-based management approaches. Key regional directions included: use of indicators, co-management and rights-based fisheries, freezing and controlling the number of fishing vessels, strengthening the existing regional collaborative framework to support national management, including the establishment of a Regional Scientific Advisory Committee for Fisheries Management in Southeast Asia.
When asked about SEAFDEC's role with respect to the RPOA, and SEAFDEC mentioned that is finds the RPOA very much in line with their work. The relatively weak actions such as only freezing not reducing (noting that fishing effort is likely to keep increasing). It was also pointed out that the task was not so daunting if governments started with reducing capacity in the trawler fleet. SEAFDEC responded that was trying to reflect the needs and desires of its members.
The importance of engaging high-level of government to effect change and the workshop noted that SEAFDEC is working with ASEAN to bring high-level political support to key fisheries issues, including support of the CCRF and potential funding of fisheries programmes.
Dominique Greboval (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department)
This presentation was an overview of progress made world-wide in the implementation of the
IPOA-Capacity and the IPOA-IUU. He concluded that Emphasis most countries were not addressing the related issues of management, access and capacity head-on, but relying on other forms of controls
(e.g. effort limitations to market measures) that were not particularly effective. The political implications of addressing access limitations and capacity management were stressed – noting that the creation of wealth and the allocation of costs and benefits are at the core of this key requirement for fisheries management. Looking at the way forward, a range of steps was proposed with the aim of creating
a decision-making environment that will be conducive for major reforms for the countries of the region to address fisheries management in general and access, rights, capacity, and IUU fishing, in particular.
In discussion, it was asked whether there were any plans to work on harmonizing activities for addressing IUU fishing and the development of instruments such as satellite monitoring systems. In response, the importance of regional harmonization of work to address IUU fishing, and the development of an instrument on port-state measures were stressed. The ongoing harmonization of technical measures between RFMOs was also highlighted. The importance of recognizing the fact that implementing IPOAs was political process was noted but the ability of governments in any developing country to be really able to govern fisheries was questioned. It was noted that the stronger the rules, the greater the potential for corruption and by-passing of rules. The need to manage from the bottom up, not just the top down was considered extremely important in this context.
Rebecca Metzner (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department)
This presentation described the management tools that do and that do not work to manage fishing capacity. In noting that the intention of managing fishing capacity is either preventing the development of overcapacity or bringing fishing capacity into line with a predefined, desired level, her presentation pointed out that most of the typical tools used to manage fisheries have only very temporary, one-time impacts on capacity, e.g. gear and vessel restrictions, limited entry programs, aggregate quotas and total allowable catches (TACs), non-transferable vessel catch limits (individual quotas/IQs), and buy-back programs have only temporary impacts on limiting or reducing capacity and actually create the conditions for driving the creation of overcapacity and IUU fishing (A full list of these management tools is included in Annex V).
In addressing the topic of what does work to manage fishing capacity, I was stated that capture fisheries must be commercially viable as well as environmentally sustainable if they are going to provide food security, alleviate hunger, and generate wealth to alleviate poverty of current and future generations. It was noted that FAO acknowledges that it is not enough to simply limit access and restrict fishing operations and that it now working, not only to emphasize the failure of 'traditional' command and control fisheries management and open access regimes, but also to recognize that rights-based fisheries management systems are the best approach to manage fishing capacity. They have the four core characteristics of – exclusivity, durability, security, and transferability – that are a main components of managing fishing capacity. Hence, collaborative rights-based fisheries management systems are
a prerequisite if fishermen and their communities are going to effectively implement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and to manage fishing capacity in the ways that work.
David Doulman (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department)
This presentation addressed regional cooperation and national action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Asian region. It commenced with a recap of the 2005 FAO International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU), noting that it was agreed at Ministerial level in 1999 that "States would develop a global plan of action to deal effectively with all forms of IUU fishing, including fishing vessels flying 'flags of convenience'".
It was pointed out that the IPOA-IUU drew together key sustainability norms, some of which had been
"on the books" for years but which had been little implemented in many countries. These norms were critical for improving fisheries governance.
The presentation moved to consider regional cooperation, an underpinning condition for effective national action against IUU fishing. National issues to combat IUU fishing were then addressed. It was stressed that the development of national plans of action (NPOAs-IUU) was fundamental to implementing the IPOA-IUU because they (i) provided a means for integrating policy and planning and coordinating action across national agencies, (ii) improved the effectiveness of measures against IUU fishing, (iii) promoted transparency and (iv) facilitated the quantification of outcomes. However, NPOAs-IUU, like all action plans, required periodic review and updating to ensure that they remained 'living documents' capable of meeting current IUU fishing problems and developments as they occurred. It was stressed that the development and implementation of NPOAs-IUU required sustained political commitment, trained human resources, strong and resilient national institutions, adequate capital and financial resources, and serious stakeholder involvement. It was also noted that not all measures to combat IUU fishing could be developed and implemented in the same timeframe and with the same degree of precision and ease.
Focusing on national measures and tools that might be selected to combat IUU fishing, the presentation noted that all States, flag States, coastal States and port States had different roles to play. It was emphasized that, because of the inability or unwillingness of some flag States to take responsibility for the operation of their flag vessels, the combined use of market-related and Port State Measures were seen as being among the most effective means of stopping IUU fishing. The final section of the presentation addressed the issue of human resource development. It was underscored that human resource development and institutional strengthening were essential for the development and implementation of effective programmes against IUU fishing. In the absence of trained personnel and responsive, responsible and capable institutions, national action to combat IUU fishing was likely to flounder. The presentation concluded that IUU fishing was not diminishing and that measures to confront it simultaneously led to improved fisheries governance. Regional cooperation was a priority in the fight against IUU fishing and national measures and tools to combat it should build on those already in place. Furthermore, it was recognized that IUU fishing imposed significant costs on governments, exploited the weaken positions of developing countries and undermined efforts to manage fisheries on a long-term sustainable basis. The need to remove the incentive and revenue flows for IUU fishers by blocking port and market access was re-emphasized. It was pointed out that IUU fishing, probably for the first time ever, had mobilized opposition from all players in the fisheries and food marketing sectors.
In discussion some ideas for priorities for countries in the region and within countries were indicated. It was pointed out that while IUU fishing was a historical issue in Asia, priority should be given to the illegal component of the equation as it would be the easiest to deal with as all countries had fisheries regulations and policies that were subject to infringement. It was also noted that much of the high-seas IUU fishing was undertaken by vessels flying "flags of convenience".
Importantly, the workshop agreed that IUU fishing was not limited to the high seas, and in Asian context it involved activities within EEZs, either by national fishers or encroachment by foreign fishers.
Pramod Ganapathiraju, (University of British Columbia)
The results of the report on the Evaluations of Compliance with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries4 that evaluated the status of 53 countries (representing 96 percent of the world's fish catch) were presented. These were based on 44 multifaceted questions taken from Article 7 – Fisheries Management of the Code of Conduct concerning both the intentions of countries to implement the code and their actual implementation of those intentions. The findings of the report reveal that more than 10 years since the code was promulgated, overall compliance with the code is not good, especially in several Asian countries that contribute large amount to the global fish production, and where fisheries play a vital role as source of livelihood and food to their people. The report concluded that drastic action is needed in these countries to improve long term sustainability of the resource through improvement on fisheries management issues highlighted in the code.
In terms of illegal fishing, the analysis revealed exceptionally poor performance by most APFIC countries for intentions and control of illegal fishing. In terms of compliance with the code in controlling fishing capacity, Japan and New Zealand were the only two countries to have 'good' performance among all APFIC countries. The plenary briefly discussed the interpretation of the data, and it was noted that there were strong messages for the need for better managing fishing capacity and addressing IUU fishing.
4 Pitcher, T.J., Kalikoski, D. and Pramod, G. (Eds.) (2006) Fisheries Centre Research Reports 14(2): 1191 pp.