This Workshop is contributing to the ongoing process of transforming the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) into a consultative forum for APFIC members and organizations working in the region. The 29th Session of the APFIC recommended that, as one of its two major work themes in 2007-08, APFIC should focus on standards and trade in the fishery sector as one of the emerging issues in the region. In particular, the member countries specifically requested APFIC to review the costs and benefits associated with certification schemes for fisheries and aquaculture in the APFIC region. This regional consultative workshop was convened in response to this recommendation. The APFIC secretariat and the cohosting government Viet Nam convened the Regional Consultative Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City from 18 to 20 September 2007, with the objective of evaluating the potential for capture fisheries and aquaculture certification schemes and issues relating to their sustainability and implementation in the region.
It is recognized that fisheries and aquaculture certification could offer tangible benefits to APFIC member countries. However, this report concludes that a number of issues should be addressed for certification to contribute effectively to the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the region. It is crucial that there is considerable regional involvement in certification, especially on issues related to small-scale operations which are so important for the region. It is recommended that a higher degree of harmonization and equivalence of certification schemes should be explored. The number of certification schemes is increasing and this can potentially bring up the cost for both producers and consumers. The costs and benefits should be evenly distributed along the value chain. The report specifically notes that the producers should not bear the costs associated with certification alone. Governance and stakeholder involvement is crucial to ensure not only good certification schemes but a sustainable development of the sector. A final point is the need for capacity building at both regional and national levels.
For the future development of both fisheries and aquaculture, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, it is crucial to ensure the involvement of small-scale fisheries and farmers as they represent a significant factor. In Asia alone 12 million people are directly employed in aquaculture.
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific