Report of the second APFIC regional consultative forum meeting “Adapting to emerging challenges: promotion of arrangements for the management of fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region”, Manado, Indonesia, 6–9 August 2008. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, RAP Publication 2008/12, 69 p.
The purpose of an Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission regional consultative forum meeting (APFIC RCFM) is to strengthen the role of APFIC as a coordinating body in transferring and exchanging information and experiences to assist APFIC member countries and the regional organizations to which they belong to address emerging issues in fisheries and aquaculture in the region. The RCFM precedes the main APFIC session and aims to provide Members with a neutral forum to discuss issues and develop recommendations for the commission to consider and act on. This has involved forging better links with member country technical agencies, regional partner organizations and relevant non-governmental organizations across the region, many of which contributed to the second APFIC RCFM.
The theme of the second APFIC RCFM was “Adapting to emerging challenges: promotion of effective arrangements for the management of fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region”. This built on the theme of the first APFIC RCFM that was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2006, “Reforming fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region”, which recognised the need for improved management of the region’s natural resources and a move towards more sustainable development. The forum was requested to develop and agree on ways of implementing policies and action plans developed to address these major issues.
The forum was given the opportunity to hear about the background on the status, trends and potential of Asia-Pacific fisheries and aquaculture as well as the economic, social, trade and environmental drivers that were underlying these trends and the specific regional actions which were being put in place to address them. The forum concluded 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 its performance must continue to improve. The participants at the APFIC RCFM recognized that APFIC Members are adapting well to the new challenges that are facing fishers and aquaculturists in the APFIC region.
The forum reviewed member countries’ progress on the previous recommendation by APFIC that co-management become mainstreamed in government fisheries and aquaculture activities and used to address key national policy objectives, including reducing overcapacity and the overexploitation of both marine and freshwater fisheries. The RCFM emphasized the importance of mainstreaming co-management approaches to be part of management. Based on feedback from member countries it is apparent that co-management has been increasingly mainstreamed and now forms a significant part of approaches to fisheries, particularly inland, inshore and coastal fisheries and some forms of aquaculture management in the region. Co-management approaches differ across countries, but the fundamental aspect of improved dialogue in decision-making between fisheries agencies and fishers and fish farmers is common to all.
The forum reviewed progress on the recommendation that increasing catches of low value/trash fish be tackled by improved management of fisheries, improved utilization for human consumption, and improved feeds for aquaculture. It concluded that some progress has been made in addressing the issues relating to low value/trash fish production. Some improvements have been made in the areas of improved fishing gears and zoning and there are some efforts to reduce capacity in the trawl sector. Greater progress has been made in the areas of value adding and improved handling. However, there still remains significant production of low value/trash fish and the high proportion of low value/trash fish raises concerns about the growth in overfishing, including juveniles from high-value long-living species and this requires further attention by the member countries. There has been some progress in shifting aquacultural use of low value/trash fish over to compounded feeds.
The RCFM also reviewed policy, action plans and member countries’ activities addressing two major issues which have been the thematic areas of the work of the commission during its current biennium, both of which will have a major impact on the future supply of and demand for seafood in the region, namely “Managing fishing capacity and IUU fishing in the Asian region” and “Certification schemes for capture fisheries and aquaculture”.
The RCFM recommends that the action plans and recommendations developed as part of the APFIC regional consultative workshops on “IUU fishing and capacity management” and “Certification in aquaculture and fisheries” provide a basis for guiding the work of member countries and regional organizations and others in the region. In this respect, the RCFM recommended that APFIC continue to monitor member countries’ progress against these action plans noting that the FAO guidelines for aquaculture certification will be submitted to the third session of the COFI Subcommittee on Aquaculture (COFI-AQ). The RCFM further emphasized that there is a need for continuing commitment from key stakeholders and recognized the cooperation and collaboration that is emerging in the region.
Looking to the future, the forum discussed the “ecosystem approach to fisheries” and “market linkages, trade and rural finance” as two emerging issues for the region. The forum concluded that APFIC can 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 their management needs. The forum also requested APFIC to 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 the best approaches to improving livelihoods and securing the rights of fishers, aquaculturists and their households.
The forum recognized APFIC’s coordination role and recommended 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 monitor the recent changes in member countries’ policies and the drivers for these developments. More specifically, APFIC should monitor developments relating to the main biennial themes of APFIC such as IUU fishing, managing fishing capacity, certification, co-management and low value/trash fish.
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).
Finally, the forum recognized that regional partners and member countries could also contribute to addressing the challenges facing fisheries and aquaculture in the region through their own work plans and processes. The following tasks need to be carried out and APFIC urges organizations and arrangements to undertake these and communicate the results to APFIC for onward dissemination:
These recommendations of the second APFIC RCFM were forwarded to the thirtieth APFIC session for consideration and subsequent endorsement.