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4. The second APFIC RCFM was opened by Professor Widi Agoes Pratikto, APFIC chairperson and Secretary-General of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Republic of Indonesia. As APFIC chairperson for the period 2007–2009, Professor Widi Agoes Pratikto expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to open this important meeting and with the participants shared a vision for the development of the marine and fishery sector in Asia and the Pacific region. As the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia, the APFIC chairperson expressed his sincere thanks on behalf of the Minister to all Government of Indonesia staff who helped to organize the meeting, and stated that he was deeply honoured that the Government of Indonesia had been entrusted to host such an important meeting. The focus of this RCFM is the promotion of effective arrangements for managing fisheries and aquaculture in the region. An important issue for both APFIC and the countries in the region, including Indonesia, is combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Fish share natural resources, and most fish in the ocean, especially pelagic species have a high economic value. These may breed in one area and then spend the rest of their lives travelling the ocean following an instinct forged by million of years of evolution. In order to use the ocean’s natural resources sustainably and responsibly, fishing activities on an industrial scale need to be closely regulated and monitored. The APFIC chairperson noted that there are strong indications that the ocean’s fish stocks are in a steady decline and this is of great concern for Indonesia and other APFIC member countries. A balanced approach is necessary taking into account the ecology of fisheries and the fact that in Asia and the Pacific region fishing is one of the main livelihoods, even the only means of living for some coastal communities. The APFIC chairperson emphasized the need to work together towards the protection and use of marine resources in a sustainable manner.

5. On behalf of Mr Ichiro Nomura, Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and as the secretary of APFIC, Mr Simon Funge-Smith welcomed all participants to the second APFIC RCFM. The secretary noted that APFIC is the oldest fisheries commission in the world and over time it has undergone many changes. In its current role APFIC acts as a “regional consultative forum” to better inform member countries of issues affecting the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture across the APFIC region and to bring the Members together to plan actions and strategies to address those issues. The RCFM is now held every two years and is based on a number of intersessional workshops on selected issues that APFIC considers to be of major regional importance. During the last biennium, APFIC has focused its attention on two important issues, namely “Managing fishing capacity and IUU fishing in the Asian region” and “Certification schemes for capture fisheries and aquaculture”. The secretariat has now organized regional workshops on each of these topics as well as associated issues. Both these issues will have a major impact on the future supply of and demand for seafood in the region and the RCFM provided the opportunity to hear about the outcomes of these workshops. The secretary thanked the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the governor and people of North Sulawesi for kindly hosting this meeting and making everyone feel welcome at the forum. He gave special thanks to the chairperson of APFIC and the staff of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia, who were responsible for much of the meeting organization. The secretary also thanked the participants for their commitment to participate and willingness to collaborate within the RCFM framework. In conclusion, he urged the participants to focus on giving support to the new course for fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific region that is being charted by APFIC and its partners.

6. The opening speech delivered by Dr S H Sarundajang, Governor of North Sulawesi, Republic of Indonesia welcomed all participants to the island of Sulawesi and the city of Manado. He emphasized that fisheries and marine resources are of crucial importance for the island of Sulawesi and the whole region. Noting that the second RCFM and the theme “Adapting to emerging issues” was timely in a changing world with climate changes and changing market and trade patterns, the governor stated that APFIC’s role as a policy forum and discussion platform was important in this changing environment. This should remind us to maintain a sustainable ocean management, particularly in the light of climate change. He noted the need to use the marine resources in ways that local stakeholders can sustain and hopefully increase their livelihoods and at the same time ensure that the resources will be there for generations to come. The governor then declared the second APFIC RCFM officially open.

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