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52. The secretariat introduced documents APFIC/08/4 and APFIC/08/Inf.6 on APFIC's strategic plan for 2008-2012. The strategic plan provides a long-term vision as to how the Commission should work, bearing in mind its staff and funding limitations and Member States' priorities.

53. The APFIC strategic plan was presented to the seventy-first APFIC Executive Committee for its consideration. The committee concluded that APFIC should continue its role as a regional consultative forum and further recommended it should facilitate coordination between regional organizations related to fisheries and aquaculture.

Regional consultative forum

54. Under its mandate and the functions endorsed by its membership, APFIC is charged with meeting the information needs relating to fisheries and aquaculture in its member countries and its specific geographic area of competence. APFIC interprets this as acting as a regional consultative forum through which it is able to convene member countries and competent regional fisheries and aquaculture organizations to identify emerging issues in the fisheries sector and to elaborate and prioritize actions needed to address them.

Facilitating regional agreements and arrangements

55. APFIC has a clear mandate to support and encourage the emergence of bilateral, trilateral and other arrangements for the effective management of fisheries among its member countries, and particularly within its geographical area of competence. It is therefore suggested that APFIC's strategy should be to promote regional arrangements and work with regional processes aimed at improving responsible fisheries in the region.

56. There are currently several developments ongoing in the region to which APFIC is committed to providing support/facilitation to its relevant Members. APFIC foresees that these regional initiatives will benefit from APFIC support in the areas in which it is specifically competent. These include:

57. Although APFIC is competent to act on matters of common interest within the national waters of all its member countries, it does have some specific waters which are considered its main area of competence, such as the South China Sea. APFIC has thus a strategic interest in facilitating the development of regional arrangements for these geographical areas.

Promoting regional dialogue

58. APFIC is in a position to initiate regular coordination meetings (telephone hook-up and/or conferencing) between regional fishery bodies (RFBs) and regional organizations, e.g. BOBP-IGO, APFIC, WorldFish Center, Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and Pacific (NACA), SEAFDEC, Coordinating Body for the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), MRC, Mangroves For the Future (MFF) initiative, ASEAN Working Group on Fisheries (ASWGFi), Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation Fisheries Working Group (BIMSTEC FiWG). These link-ups would exchange information on projects, workshops and initiatives much in the same way as the Consortium to Restore Shattered Livelihoods in Tsunami-Devastated Nations (CONSRN) mechanism. The outcomes of this activity would be recorded and circulated to the regional organizations and could be communicated to APFIC focal points.

Capacity building

59. APFIC has a capacity building function. It can assist in identifying technical assistance and the capacity-building needs of its Members. APFIC has already organized a regional training workshop on port state measures. APFIC also assisted in the initial workshops for the development of FAO guidelines on aquaculture certification to try and ensure that these are regionally relevant and corresponded to the needs to an aquaculture sector that had a large proportion of small-scale producers. FAO has recently approved a regional Technical Cooperation Programme project for improved aquafeed to reduce trash feed use in aquaculture in collaboration with NACA, as requested at the twenty-ninth session of APFIC.

60. The financing for technical assistance is highly dependent on the identification of extra-budgetary funding, as APFIC's core budget is limited. It covers enough to hold the RCFM and the Commission's sessions, i.e. Executive Committee's session and Commission's main session. APFIC therefore seeks donor funding and ad hoc contributions from member countries to carry out its regional consultative workshops and capacity building functions.

61. Members were invited to comment on the 2008-2012 proposed strategy for promoting regional management initiatives as well as to propose significant regional actions which could be promoted by the APFIC Members and other organizations to address these issues. The Commission was further invited to provide useful advice to the secretariat on better resourcing to the Commission.

Responses by the commission and observers

62. Delegates and observers discussed the need to involve non-fisheries agencies that deal with broader issues that affect fisheries and fisherfolk, such as the environment and social affairs. Several Members commented that it is up to the Members themselves to coordinate with relevant agencies in their member countries and bring a consolidated position to APFIC. However, it is recognized that there is benefit in having broader participation in RCFM, particularly in the current biennium, as the two key themes proposed by APFIC, the ecosystem approach and sustainable livelihoods are issues where departmental coordination is highly relevant.

63. It was recommended that the APFIC secretariat and the host country of the next RCFM communicate closely on how environmental agencies could be made more aware of fisheries issues and their possible inclusion in the next RCFM as part of the ecosystem theme.

64. SEAFDEC described their work on harmonizing their regional statistics collection with FAO. They offered to cooperate with any initiative of APFIC and FAO in this area. The secretariat expressed its appreciation of the support of SEAFDEC and looked forward to further collaboration.

65. One Member raised the issue of the effect of subsidies and the removal of subsidies onto the small-scale sector. The secretariat will keep monitoring developments and bring to the attention of the Commission any activity undertaken by FAO on this matter.

66. The secretariat acknowledged the contribution of Sweden to the activities of the Commission and appreciated that this support allowed APFIC to undertake broader consultations on issues of regional importance.

67. It was noted that the strategic plan can be used as a mechanism for seeking additional ad hoc resourcing from APFIC Members and donors and to communicate the function of APFIC to a wider audience.

68. The Commission welcomed the 2008-2012 strategic plan for APFIC and endorsed it. The Commission further recommended that APFIC should continue to act as a regional consultative forum, to evaluate, monitor and advise, to promote subregional management initiatives, and to strengthen coordination on key issues identified by the Commission.

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