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90. The secretariat introduced this item on the basis of document APFIC/08/6 and the draft RCFM report (APFIC/08/Inf.9).

Report from the regional consultative forum

91. The secretariat reviewed the report of the second APFIC RCFM and detailed the recommendations contained within the report.

92. The RCFM noted that fisheries and aquaculture remain very important production sectors in the APFIC region and the livelihoods of large numbers of people in the region are connected to them. Although there are great challenges facing the sector, significant advances are being made in reforming it. Fisheries continue to be under pressure and the need for more effective management is increasingly urgent. Aquaculture offers opportunities to the region, but the region must continue to improve the sector's performance.

93. It was recognized by the RCFM that APFIC Members are adapting well to new challenges facing fishers and aquaculturists in the APFIC region. The RCFM recognized that cooperation and collaboration is becoming stronger in the region and this positive trend should be continued.

94. The participants at the RCFM reviewed the main themes of the programme of work of APFIC over recent years and have been informed of the developments and achievements of the APFIC member countries. In this respect, the RCFM concluded that:

95. The RCFM recommended that APFIC should promote understanding of how to implement ecosystem approaches to aquaculture and fisheries management, particularly as applicable to the small-scale production sector, developing offshore fisheries and in the data-poor situations that prevail in the APFIC region. APFIC can promote the assessment of fisheries for management purposes.

96. The RCFM noted that APFIC should explore the human dimension of fisheries and aquaculture in the region as these subsectors restructure or are driven to change by internal and external forces. This would form the basis of advice on best approaches to the improvement of livelihoods, securing the rights of fishers, aquaculturists and their households.

97. The RCFM noted that APFIC should continue to facilitate information sharing on key issues relating to fisheries and aquaculture between regional organizations and arrangements and member countries. This would be achieved through continuing the regional consultative forum role of APFIC and targeted communications and networking activities. APFIC should also continue to monitor recent changes in member countries' policies and the drivers for these. More specifically, APFIC should monitor the main biennial themes of APFIC such as IUU fishing, managing fishing capacity, certification, co-management and low-value trash fish.

98. Furthermore, it was noted that APFIC should continue to promote improved reporting and information, particularly in the areas where data is not reported in sufficient detail and focus more on information relating to stocks and systems and issues relating to management, including socio-economic data. APFIC should engage with subregional processes that aim to develop more effective management of fisheries and aquaculture, and broader environmental focused initiatives (e.g. lost and abandoned fishing gear).

99. The RCFM acknowledged that there are many areas of work relating to the issues confronting fisheries and aquaculture in the region. The RCFM also recognized that this would require extended activity, research or analysis which lay beyond APFIC's capabilities to undertake directly. APFIC would need to get support from partner organizations to address these issues.

Other emerging issues in the fisheries sector

100. There where several emerging areas identified by the RCFM that required more detailed review and advice. These areas could be addressed by other organizations and it was hoped that APFIC would be able to inform its members on this. These are (i) Review how fisheries and aquaculture can adapt or even benefit from the challenge of impacts from climate change; (ii) Evaluate the benefits (human and environmental) of MPA's and their trade-offs; (iii) Assess the impact of subsidies on fisheries and aquaculture in the region and the effect of their removal; (iv) Positive and negative impacts of reduction of fishing over-capacity, in particular strategies for mitigating negative human impacts; (v) Develop effective and practical methods for assessment of fishing capacity and strategies for encouraging capacity reduction; (vi) Promote harmonization of food standards and certification systems for member countries; (vii) Develop regional cooperation to manage fishing capacity and combat IUU fishing; (viii) Report on changing markets and trade in the region, in particular the effects of the development of FTA's, economic integration and WTO; (ix) Review the implications of increasing fuel and food (feed) prices on the sector; (x) Collation and review of existing information on resource status in the region and development of indicators for system/fishery health; (xi) Facilitate the harmonization of policies at provincial and national levels (as well as across agencies) and (xii) Effective planning for water development with minimal negative impact on inland fisheries.

101. The Commission endorsed the RCFM recommendations and the RCFM Draft report with minor adjustments. The Commission further noted that the "RCFM mechanism" was very useful for APFIC member countries. The role of APFIC as an advisory body and not a management body was underlined. Some countries noted that the real responsibility for management of the resources was within the countries and strengthening of fisheries management should be done within this context. It was noted that there was a need for better linkage between research and final management decisions, an area which could be facilitated by APFIC with other organizations undertaking fisheries research.

102. BOBP-IGO and SEAFDEC congratulated the Secretariat with a comprehensive report capturing the discussions from the 2nd RCFM.

Regional arrangements and initiatives

103. The RPOA — This plan is a commitment to implement responsible fisheries management practices, including those to combat IUU fishing. RPOA cover the areas of the South China Sea, Sulu-Sulawesi Seas (Celebes Sea) and the Arafura and Timor Seas. The RPOA is a voluntary instrument and takes its core principles from already established international fisheries instruments for promoting responsible fishing practices. A series of senior officers meetings and a ministerial meeting were convened resulting in the signing of the RPOA document. The meeting was attended by representatives of 11 countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam).

104. Of particular relevance to APFIC is that the RPOA countries acknowledge the important roles of regional organizations in strengthening fisheries management and conservation in the region including the FAO/APFIC, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN, INFOFISH, SEAFDEC, and the WorldFish Center. The RPOA recommends countries to encourage relevant regional organizations to provide assistance in terms of technical support and development of guidelines, capacity building, sharing data and information on fisheries and trade, and strengthening networking for the purpose of enhancing participation and ensuring implementation of conservation and management measures in the region.

105. SEAFDEC-ASEAN — The SEAFDEC governing council has supported in principle the proposal for the establishment of the Regional Scientific Advisory Committee for Fisheries Management in Southeast Asia in response to the need to improve fisheries management, particularly addressing issues related to fishing capacity and IUU fishing, and enhancing information collection for fisheries management. ASEAN recently agreed to develop an ASEAN regional fisheries management mechanism (RFMM) for the ASEAN region in May 2008. In November 2007 SEAFDEC and ASEAN adopted the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Strategic Partnership (ASSP). The full texts of the statements of the Secretary-General of SEAFDEC appear in Appendix G.

106. It is suggested that APFIC will work closely with SEAFDEC to move this initiative forward as it fits the APFIC strategic goal of facilitating regional agreements.

107. Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) — The APFIC secretariat provided a brief description of the CTI and some of its linkages to fisheries. It was recommended that the APFIC Members should keep APFIC updated on CTI activities, particularly when it was relevant to fisheries and fisheries management. It was noted that the CTI and the NPOA-IUU complement each other.

108. BOBP-IGO noted current management initiatives in the Bay of Bengal and made reference to the IOTC. BOBP-IGO informed the Commission of the RPOA on safety at sea, a draft of which should be in place by 2011.

Regionally important outcomes of international fora

109. The secretariat made a presentation on regionally important outcomes from international fora based on document APFIC/08/6.

110. The COFI held its twenty-seventh session from 5 to 9 March 2007 in Rome, Italy. The meeting was characterized by perhaps the highest representation ever, active participation and significant outcomes on substantive issues. At the meeting:

111. In relation to the last three points, the secretariat noted that APFIC has been involved in developing the FAO guidelines on aquaculture certification that are currently being prepared for consideration by the subcommittee on aquaculture. APFIC is also currently part of a working group led by FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department to organize and convene a global meeting on small-scale fisheries, in partnership with SEAFDEC, the WorldFish Center and DOF Thailand in Bangkok from 12 to 17 October 2008. The secretariat also invited the Commission to report on activities relating to fishing subsidies in the region to the APFIC secretariat for submission to FAO.

112. Noting that COFI had highlighted a number of areas where they lacked information, the secretariat recommended the Members of the Commission to report back to COFI on their national or regional action plans and other efforts relating to:

113. The secretariat noted that the introduction of port states measures places the burden of regulation on the country providing access and in most cases it is difficult for them carry out such responsibilities. This is particularly true for countries with inadequate budget for regulation such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste, or countries with huge coastlines such as Indonesia. The secretariat highlighted that flag states' responsibilities will be an area to be addressed in the future.

114. Members noted the appropriateness of FAO as the sole global body competent in convening and leading global fisheries affairs.

115. Members emphasized that there are capacity reduction and management initiatives ongoing in the region, however it is clear that these are not being communicated to COFI. It was emphasized by the secretariat that Members should ensure that this type of information reaches COFI.

116. The secretariat reminded the Commission that APFIC does not report to COFI directly and that it is the responsibility of Member States to communicate their initiatives and successes to COFI.

117. Member States noted that flag states' responsibilities will be a new area of focus.

118. Malaysia informed the Commission that it is organizing a subregional meeting on IUU fishing and monitoring, control and surveillance for the southern and eastern area of the South China Sea and Sulu-Sulawesi Seas as part of its follow-up under the RPOA, and this will be convened in Kuching, Malaysia from 26 to 28 August 2008.

119. The Commission suggested that the COFI questionnaire should be redesigned, in particular to reflect ongoing efforts in certification, capacity, and management.

120. SEAFDEC informed the Commission that they held a consultation in July 2008 on climate change and its impact on fisheries.

Conclusions of the RFB secretariats network meeting (RSN1)

121. This meeting was convened after the COFI meeting and the participants were the secretaries of RFMOs and advisory RFBs, such as APFIC. The meeting discussed the issues of COFI in relation to the work of RFB/RFMOs with a focus on RFMOs. The meeting:

122. Members noted the development of many RFMOs/RFBs and inquired about duplication of efforts especially with the move towards an ecosystem management approach.

123. SEAFDEC noted its collaboration with FAO, the WorldFish Center and DOF Thailand to organize the global meeting on small-scale fisheries in Bangkok from 12 to 17 October 2008.

124. BOBP-IGO regretted that they were not requested to collaborate in the small-scale fisheries conference and stressed that their activities predominantly addressed issues of concern to small-scale fisheries and often in strong collaboration with FAO.

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora)

125. FAO has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CITES to provide scientific information as part of the listing process.

126. The listing of Anguilla anguilla (European eel) under the CITES list Appendix II may have implications for the culture of the European eel in Asia, as there will effectively be a ban on the movement of glass eels from Europe to Asia. Indonesia is considering developing their domestic Anguilla populations for aquaculture and since these are not considered under threat the listing of Anguilla may be of some concern.

127. Members expressed some concerns in relation to the listing of CITES species prior to the MOU between FAO and CITES and enquired about the CITES listing and delisting process.

128. The secretariat clarified the relationship between FAO and CITES and informed the Commission on the major items for the next COFI meeting to be held from 2 to 6 March 2009 in Rome, Italy.

Reporting on the implementation of the code of conduct for responsible fisheries

129. The Commission noted that at times the larger scale commercial fisheries and the small-scale fisheries sector have conflicting interests.

130. Australia noted that there was a need for a structured approach to reporting back on fisheries management and governance to APFIC by member countries. This should be followed up by member countries and the APFIC secretariat. For example, it would be useful to get reporting on management measures to combat IUU fishing.

131. It was noted by Cambodia that the CCRF has been translated into Khmer and a Cambodian Fisheries Code of Conduct (CamCode) was being developed. It was expected that the CamCode would be finalized at the end of 2008. It was noted that the CamCode was not a legal instrument but a document containing guiding principles.

132. India stated that the FAO CCRF is being translated into most of the Indian local languages with the support of BOBP-IGO and this will form the basis of a national CCRF.

133. Philippines noted that in relation to the ecosystem approach, food security and conservation efforts should be balanced equally and both should be part of the solution. Fish refugia and sanctuaries, if managed appropriately, can be of benefit for both the fisheries sector and other sectors (e.g. ecotourism, biodiversity conservation).

134. Sri Lanka recommended that there should be national action plans in place to support the implementation of the CCRF.

135. Thailand noted that the Thai Fisheries Act was first developed in 1947 and the principle then, as now, was to provide the power to the line ministry and this is still reflected today creating a flexible and fast platform to adjust the fisheries law. The current draft of the new fisheries law was under legal review prior to being passed to parliament. Thailand noted that the CCRF and RFMM had been translated into Thai.

136. It was noted that "destructive forms of fishing" was a more accurate description than "destructive fishing practices" as the latter implies that fishing is in itself a destructive practice. The Commission agreed that the former term could be retained as it was used in other fora.

137. In relation to the exploitation of deepwater fisheries, it was noted that adequate definitions for "vulnerable marine ecosystems" and "adverse impacts" do not yet exist.

138. BOBP-IGO noted that regional efforts have been made to translate the FAO CCRF into a regional context. It was underlined that the CCRF is now 30 years old in October 2008 and this would be a good time to review what has been done and what can still be done to implement the FAO CCRF.

139. SEAFDEC gave a comprehensive overview of what has been done by SEAFDEC on working together with its member countries to implement the CCRF. SEAFDEC has developed regional guidelines on CCRF and supported the translation of the regional CCRF into national languages of its member countries and is continuously supporting the implementation of the CCRF in the region.

140. The SBF noted that IUU fishing is an important issue in the EU and some progress is being made on illegal fishing and port state measures. A recent initiative on requirements for fisheries products entering the EU relating to compliance with responsible fishing practices, may be put in place from 2010 onwards. It was noted that there is still some work to be done by APFIC Members to have the accountability and traceability requirements in place to comply with these standards.

141. It was noted that the FAO guidelines for aquaculture certification were being developed and stakeholder expert workshops have been held in Bangkok, Thailand March 2007 and in Beijing, China, May 2008. It was noted that there had been good regional input into the process of developing the guidelines and the APFIC secretariat and some member countries had been active in this process.

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