7. Mr Simon Funge-Smith, the secretary of APFIC, informed the participants about the structure of the consultative forum and the practical arrangements.
8. The first session of the RCFM was an introduction to the theme of the second RCFM “Adapting to emerging challenges: promotion of effective arrangements for the management of fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region”. This session also included an introduction to the findings of the latest APFIC biennial review, Status and Potential of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2008.
By Professor Hasjim Jalal, International Ocean Law Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF)
9. The keynote address by Professor Hasjim Jalal set the scene for the RCFM by stressing the need for cooperation among countries and among fishery organizations in Asia and the Pacific region. He noted that prior to the development of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) there was no real need for cooperation, since most of the fishery issues were national issues in near-coastal waters. After UNCLOS, and the establishment of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and sovereign rights, fisheries have become much more complicated and shared stocks require the cooperation both of coastal states and distant water fishing nations (DWFN) and he noted that 155 countries have now ratified UNCLOS.
10. A range of mechanisms for cooperation are available, including international, regional and bilateral arrangements. Important international agreements include the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) that was finalized in 1995 and is currently in force with 71 countries having ratified it. Post-UNCLOS, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) also have a management mandate for certain stocks and areas. Other agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) also require cooperation between countries. Many of these agreements provide a platform for regional and country action and have binding or non-binding requirements.
11. At the regional level other regional bodies, e.g. the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), Bay of Bengal Program-Intergovernmental Organization (BOBP-IGO) are advisory in nature. In terms of RFMOs, regional agreements are based on stocks and areas. In the APFIC region, these are the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). These RFMOs have a strong mandate to manage highly migratory fish, especially tuna. WCPFC is based on UNFSA and covers highly migratory species. IOTC has started to look at other species, e.g. sharks. Both RFMOs monitor the status of stocks and have a strong role in combating IUU fishing as well as providing management advice to their contracting parties based on scientific evidence.
12. Professor Hasjim pointed out that according to UNCLOS the area of competence of these RFMOs did not include the semi-enclosed seas, e.g. South China Sea, and areas of the seas of Southeast Asia including the Celebes Sea. These semi-closed seas included the archipelagic waters of Indonesia and Philippines. In such circumstances the cooperation of surrounding countries was required for management.
13. Other non-management agreements include APFIC that acts as a policy forum, building human capacity, facilitating the work of FAO in the region. APFIC’s work focuses mainly on areas that lack regional agreements for management.
14. In inland waters, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) has a fisheries programme within its mandate for intergovernmental cooperation for water management. The aquaculture sector is specifically serviced by the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) whose regional work includes aquatic animal health, movement of genetic material, the advocacy of aquaculture certification, and the promotion of best practices in aquaculture management.
15. There are also several environment-related cooperating arrangements that have an impact on fisheries. These include the Coordinating Body of the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), Partnership in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), UN Environment Programme (UNEP)/Global Environment Facility (GEF) South China Sea Project. All provide mechanisms to address fisheries issues, especially related to habitat and environmental issues.
16. There are also a number of science/research organizations. The WorldFish Center (WorldFish), part of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) provides advice on science and policy with a particular focus on small-scale producers in developing countries. The South Pacific Community (SPC) provides scientific advice in the Pacific region, including the WCPFC.
17. The region therefore has many regional bodies and arrangements, but geographical gaps exist, especially with respect to RFMOs. Formal arrangements do not exist for many semi-enclosed seas, although UNCLOS requires cooperation under Article 123, e.g. South China Sea and its high seas area. Some shared stocks will require joint management, but this is not foreseen in the near future and developing cooperation is necessary. One of the ways forward will include vessel registers and information exchange, as major issues relating to IUU fishing in the region will require a high degree of coordination and cooperation. In the Bay of Bengal there is a need for regional cooperation for species other than tuna. Another major gap is the lack of coordination among the many international/regional arrangements in Asia and the Pacific region.
18. In summary, Professor Hasjim Jalal stressed the need for: (i) more effective syntheses of scientific findings; (ii) more consistency in implementing agreements; (iii) improved practice supported by informed policy and greater buy-in by countries; (iv) a shift away from a focus on increased production towards sustainable use; and (v) improved cost-effectiveness and efficiency. He emphasized the need to be more proactive and include better monitoring and feedback on progress, especially on the implementation of agreements. Underpinning all of these is the need for better cooperation at all levels, both among countries and among all the regional organizations.
Simon Funge-Smith, APFIC Secretary
19. The status and potential of the fisheries and aquaculture in Asia 2008 covered: (i) contribution of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific region; (ii) trends in fisheries and aquaculture; (iii) current regional issues; and (iv) emerging regional issues.
20. Fisheries contribute more than one percent of gross domestic product (GDP) (0.9 percent China) to the national economy in 23 states of the APFIC region and aquaculture contributes more than one percent in 11 states (16 percent Viet Nam). Data on employment is sparse but it is estimated that Asia accounts for ~87 percent of global employment of fishworkers with a total 41.4 million people employed full time (including 13 million in China), and huge numbers of part-time operators and employees.
21. In 2006, capture fisheries from the APFIC region made up 52 percent of global production (47.6 million tonnes, with six APFIC states among the top ten producers). Since 2004, production has increased by 3.5 percent. This has been achieved through increases in inland capture fisheries (19 percent) and marine capture fisheries (1.3 percent). Significant inland fisheries increases have been reported from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan, but this may reflect improvements in reporting rather than actual increases in production. The proliferation of inland water stocking and increased fishing effort may also explain the increased production levels. However, many reports suggest a general decline in productivity.
22. Capture fisheries production is dominated by small pelagic marine species such as mackerel, scad, anchovy. There has been a recent increase in this group as a result of “fishing down the food chain” in fisheries where larger, more valuable species have been fished out. Unfortunately, an analysis of trends is problematic where a large number of fish are reported together in the “not elsewhere identified” (nei) group; this currently comprises about 36 percent of the reported catch. China has recently improved its reporting and the proportion of nei is reducing, however, overall the proportion of fish reported as nei is increasing. This is partly because many fisheries are catching low-value, small fish that are considered not worth reporting in terms of species. It was recommended that targeted surveys be undertaken to have a clearer picture of what fish make up the nei group.
23. Although production figures themselves cannot provide categorical information about the health of the resource or causes of change (e.g. environmental cycles, and economics), it is still interesting to compare trends in different subregions over past decades. Over the past 20 years, there has been a pronounced decline in high-value, large species and increasing proportions of smaller species in temperate waters. This can be explained by declines in the fisheries coupled with a reduction of fishing effort and a shift of effort to tropical waters.
24. This trend is not so obvious in tropical waters, where there have been increases in all groups, including the nei group. Tropical fisheries are highly productive and arguably more resilient to fishing pressure, although there are clear signs of “fishing down the food chain” in many fisheries with small pelagic species now predominating. Sharks have declined dramatically in temperate waters but increased in tropical waters, (although there are signs of declines recently). The reasons for these differences are uncertain, but could involve changes in reporting because of conservation concerns, differences in the vulnerability of tropical and temperate sharks to fishing or actual changes in production. For tunas, skipjack tuna catches continue to increase, but the limits to this increase are unknown. All other tunas show a declining production and serious management interventions are being called for and applied, in both the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean through RFMOs.
25. Major capture fisheries trends in the subregions are as follows: South Asia (6.2 million tonnes) has seen a large increase in inland fisheries, but much of this production is still grouped as nei; in Southeast Asia (15.4 million tonnes) inland fisheries are increasing with marine production still accounting for 88 percent of total production, but with increasing nei (probably small low-value species); China, has improved reporting through greater disaggregation of nei reports. As part of a review of its statistics, it will adjust past figures, which are expected to show a reduction of about 13 percent for both capture fisheries and aquaculture production; other countries in Asia (mainly Japan and Republic of Korea) show a levelling off of production after declining from a peak of 14.8 million tonnes in 1986. Oceania’s production is declining, but does not include increases in fishing being undertaken under access arrangements.
26. Aquaculture production in the region accounts for more than 90 percent of global production (46.3 million tonnes) and 70 percent of total value, with China still the dominant state. Inland fish culture production has tripled over the past fifteen years, mainly through carp production but also through significant increases of catfish (1.5 million tonnes), eels (48 000 tonnes in 2006) and in the last four years, salmonids (90 000 tonnes from Iran and China). Asian aquaculture production is still considered to be grossly underestimated because of the large number of small-scale producers and it remains difficult to assess. It was recommended that member countries improve estimates of production from backyard systems.
27. Production from marine and brackish water culture has also increased. Amberjack production is stable, Japanese seabass and seabream production is increasing, whiteleg shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) has shown large increases because of the widespread availability of specific pathogen free (SPF) stocks and overproduction is now occurring and prices are low. Mollusc culture is very high and aquatic plant culture is now at massive levels.
28. There are a number of major trends in the region. South Asia has experienced a large increase (a tripling in the last three years) in inland water culture production and this has become an important contributor to food security and is not heavily dependent on marine fish sources. Aquaculture production in Southeast Asia is extremely diverse with freshwater finfish culture increasing, large increases in seaweed production, and crustaceans accounting for 45 percent of product value. Chinese mariculture production is now at 45.6 million tonnes dominated by molluscs and aquatic plants, but with rapid growth in carnivorous marine finfish since 1995. Chinese inland aquaculture production has also increased by 9.2 percent per annum since 2004 with similar trends in high value carnivorous fish culture (Mandarin fish, eels and snakehead fish). Other Asian countries have stable aquaculture production except for aquatic plants (54 percent of total production); molluscs account for 28 percent of production and high value carnivorous finfish (10 percent of production) now account for 41 percent of aquaculture product value.
29. Two major current issues that were addressed by APFIC in the past biennium were: (i) inland fisheries, food security and data requirements; and (ii) marine fisheries policy, marine protected areas (MPAs), illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and capacity.
30. The first issue highlighted the lack of information on the importance of small-scale inland fishing where most of the catch is relatively small and used for subsistence purposes. The need for better trend data was highlighted so that a better understanding of this large but undervalued component of APFIC fisheries is better understood.
31. The second issue examined the role that MPAs can play as a fisheries management tool. It was concluded that it is possible to clearly demonstrate the value of MPAs as a tool to protect and conserve biodiversity, but more difficult to demonstrate their value as a fisheries management tool. More rigorous analyses of human and fishery benefits and trade-offs are required to provide guidance to fishery managers.
32. The number of parties that had ratified and accepted global conventions and agreements and their membership in a number of international/regional fishery bodies and other arrangements related to fisheries was updated, although APFIC still requires more accurate and up-to-date information.
33. The fight against IUU fishing in the region was discussed and some of the measures employed to combat it highlighted. Lastly, the constraints and challenges of expanding fishing into offshore waters were discussed.
34. The APFIC secretary concluded that the future looked good with significant progress in the areas of fisheries governance and improved management of aquaculture being achieved. However, he reminded the forum that many challenges still needed to be addressed so that fisheries and aquaculture in the region can meet their full potential in contributing to sustainable development.
35. During the discussion, the RCFM noted the need to take climate change into account when examining trends and potential. It was agreed that this was an important area for future work. Rising fuel and feed prices and their effects on fisheries and aquaculture were also raised as an issue of regional importance that is now affecting sector performance.
36. The twenty-ninth session of APFIC made a number of recommendations on actions that countries should pursue, namely mainstreaming co-management into fisheries management and reducing the catch of low value/trash fish (especially from marine coastal waters). Each country presented their progress in adopting these recommendations as well as describing overall progress in fisheries and aquaculture development in their countries. Many presenters provided an overview of the sector in their countries and as these statistics have already been incorporated into the review, Status and potential of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific 2008, they are not presented here. However, the presentations from each country are available on the APFIC Web site at www.apfic.org.
37. Australia — Management systems are in place, with responsibility shared between the central and provincial governments and co-managed with the fishing industry through joint authorities. There is a major focus on ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), including bycatch and ecological risk assessments. Both input and output management controls are used with a strong monitoring and reporting system to provide feedback on progress. Australia also has a strong monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) system. It works both bilaterally and multilaterally and supports the global fisheries agreements. Climate change is an emerging issue and the policy is to adapt to climate change. Key management initiatives have included structural adjustment to remove fishing effort and adoption of harvest strategies to more sustainably harvest fish based on sound scientific information.
38. Bangladesh — Advances in mainstreaming co-management include developing new legislation to accommodate co-management, and a new policy to promote community-based management and the involvement of stakeholders, especially women. The lease-based system has largely been replaced by community ownership. The emphasis is on human capacity building and a focus on environment-friendly management to ensure sustainability and conserve biodiversity. Achievements include better community-based fisheries management, better linkages with government organizations (GOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), improved livelihoods, increased incomes of women. Bangladesh continues to cooperate with international and regional organizations and encourages their support.
39. Cambodia — The country has made progress in co-management through the community fisheries (CF) mechanism, where the government has allocated some previously leased fisheries (fishing lots) to communities. The period from 2000 to 2007 has been one of human capacity building and putting in place the fundamentals for co-management, including giving leases to communities, developing CF and preparing CF bylaws. From 2007, the focus shifted to CF strengthening and development, including registration and CF demarcation. Achievements, therefore, have been the new legislation, an organized management structure, building of networks and strengthening of capacity. Many positive changes have occurred with more secure access rights and increases in fishery resources. The challenge is to make the system self-reliant. Cambodia continues to collaborate with regional and global organizations (including FAO) in projects and implementation of CF.
40. China — Major changes in fisheries management have occurred, based on the country’s Eleventh Five-year Plan. The focus has been on conservation of aquatic resources and protection of aquatic ecosystems, including building of artificial reefs, resource enhancement, control and reduction of marine fishing capacity (2 600 vessels and 1.24 million kW power), job transfers (more than 80 000 fishers), closed seasons and areas, and eco-fish farming (strict control on drugs, feeds, juvenile selection, water quality etc.). China has continued to be a major global and regional player in fisheries and aquaculture by implementing international agreements with neighbouring countries and is now a member of all RFMOs including the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
41. India — The fisheries sector is an important resource for socio-economic development. In 2005, more than 3.51 million people were involved in the industry. A number of statistics on the Indian fishing fleet were presented. The challenge of maritime safety when dealing with large numbers of small-scale vessels was discussed. A national level review committee was constituted in 1997. The use of zonation in coastal waters for regulation of fisheries is successfully used. The Government of India has, together with BOBP-IGO, implemented a number of very useful projects related to improving the fisheries sector.
42. Indonesia — Indonesia’s actions and achievements included their increasing role in international/regional organizations, for example their membership in IOTC and NACA (and the country will soon join the WCPFC) and especially meeting their obligations to exchange information. They are working hard to combat IUU fishing, including strengthening of vessel surveillance, capacity building, and improved management through a new coordination forum. A new fisheries management plan has been developed and marine conservation areas have also been developed. There has been improved utilization of low value fish, and improved feeds for aquaculture through regulation of supply and distribution of feeds. Co-management is being successfully implemented in several areas.
43. Japan — Japan has embarked on a fisheries resource restoration programme (FRRP), based on a strong co-management approach. The new FRRP includes reducing fishing effort (through total allowable catches (TACs), total allowable effort quotas (TAEs), increasing resources through restocking and artificial reefs and improving the environment. Regional fisheries adjustment committees at provincial (prefecture) and local levels have been set up. The programmes are implemented by both national and provincial governments. One example of success is the Japanese Spanish mackerel that is managed by a provincial licensing system — the goal is to recover stocks to 1991 level by reducing fishing effort. Significant recovery in stocks has occurred although the goal has not yet been reached. Another example is sandfish in Akita Prefecture where catches were prohibited for three years (1992 to 1994) and a TAC introduced. After lifting the ban, catches have increased. Fishing associations and fisheries cooperative associations have been very important in gaining consensus and solidarity and making success possible.
44. Malaysia — Co-management has been successful in Kula Teriang, Langkawi, where it has been introduced in cooperation with SEAFDEC. This was based on a participatory process involving communities. The resources are now better managed, new business ventures have been developed and the encroachment of trawlers has been reduced. Malaysia plans to expand this model to other areas of the country. In terms of reducing low value/trash catches Malaysia tried to introduce increased mesh sizes, but met considerable resistance from fishers. However, a joint study between government and fishers demonstrated its benefits in improving catch composition and economic returns. The new measures are now being adopted. In addition, there have been joint trials with juvenile and trash fish excluding devices (JTFEDs) and trials of the Malaysian
“Acetes efficiency device”. Also incentives, through a certificate, to not use trash fish directly as feed in cage culture are being promoted.
45. Myanmar — Catches of low value/trash fish are high in coastal waters and more than 25 percent of the catch is discarded. Myanmar recognizes that these fish are important for food security, especially in areas away from the coast and they are attempting to divert more fish towards human consumption through value adding in small and medium scale processing plants. Livelihood benefits that have been derived from this initiative include understanding of product quality, quality assurance methods. A focus on trading higher-quality products rather than a large volume of lower-quality products is considered to contribute to reduced fishing pressure. Emerging challenges include the need to improve statistics on low value/trash fish and the need to achieve a better balance between fisheries management and sustainable livelihoods.
46. Nepal — Increasing fish production through expansion of the area of warm water aquaculture and trout production through “one-village-one-product” campaigns are being piloted. This will support income generation and address rural poverty. Large inputs of fish seeds into freshwater bodies is taking place, but there are still many problems requiring advice and support, including legislation and management. Livelihoods enhancement to address poverty alleviation and food security is the main area to be addressed. Nepal expressed its desire to have more technical assistance from FAO (e.g. Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) and Technical Cooperation among Developing Country (TCDC) mechanisms, and from regional organizations.
47. Pakistan — Significant progress has been made through the formulation of policies. A new national fishery policy addresses many of the recognized weaknesses in fisheries including, overexploitation, weak assessments of stock status, joint ventures and improvements in value chains. A Fisheries Development Board has been incorporated under the Companies Act and will focus on sustainable and regulated harvesting. A stock assessment programme with FAO has also commenced and improvements in fish handling facilities on fishing vessels and fish handling practices have taken place. The focus is on shifting the emphasis from increasing catch quantity to improved catch quality. One business park model is also being developed, including two fishing processing plants. Aquaculture is also developing model fish and shrimp ponds and rehabilitating hatcheries. Pakistan is seeking assistance from fisheries organizations, especially in combating IUU fishing.
48. Philippines — Fisheries management activities to address resource management, environment and socio-economic issues are ongoing. Three policy thrusts are: (i) improved aquaculture productivity within ecological limits; (ii) optimized utilization of offshore fisheries and deep-sea resources; and (iii) improved product quality and reduced post-harvest losses. Achievements have included improved policies, plans and the introduction of a large fisheries resources management project. Fisheries management units (FMUs) have been identified and work is continuing on mesh selectivity, JTFEDs, fish sanctuaries, closure of fisheries and identification and establishment of fish refugia. Philippines has adopted an EBFM approach based on enhancement and development, regulatory and management programmes and improved governance structures.
49. Republic of Korea — Actions and achievements have included a restructuring of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries with fisheries now incorporated into the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. There has also been a large increase in co-management participation (in 2007, 579 communities and 44 000 fishers). Future challenges for co-management include: (i) lack of trained leadership among local level actors; (ii) a tendency for co-management groups to focus on easily implemented measures; and (iii) the presence of conflicts amongst stakeholders. Fishing capacity management actions have included decommissioning schemes for vessels. A national plan of action on IUU fishing was established in 2005. The key lesson learnt is that many policies need to be incorporated under a single objective to make them more rational, in this case a stock recovery plan. Republic of Korea is also improving safety and certification, traceability and quality assurance. It is interested in ecolabelling and would like more information on consumer acceptance and price differentials. International cooperation included ratifying UNFSA.
50. Sri Lanka — Improved management of fisheries include more legal actions against illegal fishers and prohibition of some gears in some areas. Mesh size regulation has also been introduced in inland fisheries. Long-line technology is also being encouraged. Fisheries management areas have been declared and closed areas/seasons introduced to protect juvenile areas. Alternative income activities are also being introduced. Improved post-harvest fish handling on vessels and in harbours been encouraged also, including training programmes to improve food quality, e.g. training on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). However, many problems are still present and increased efforts are needed.
51. Thailand — Good experiences in co-management have occurred focused on capacity building and encouragement of self regulation. Several successful projects in collaboration with various donors have been carried out, e.g. the CHARM project. A legal framework to support co-management has been prepared, awareness building expanded and resource rehabilitation extended. There is a push to promote small businesses, ecotourism and cage culture. Lessons learnt include the need for better awareness, alternative jobs, more active participation, more encouragement of the young generation, and the building of local institutions. Advances in fisheries management have included a programme to better understand how to reduce trawling and push net effort and fishing capacity in the Gulf of Thailand. More selective gear (e.g. crab traps) have been introduced. Improved post-harvest fish utilization and handling, including new products, new technology (e.g. new fish baskets) and the development of high value products are a priority. Attempts are also being made to protect small-size fish through improving their identification and the proclamation of conservation areas and refugia. Thailand is also currently reviewing an update to the fishery law with the intention being to incorporate new developments such as port state measures.
52. Viet Nam — There are significant changes in Viet Nam fisheries including the merging of the Ministry of Fisheries into the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Aquaculture is also increasing and the focus on food quality has increased. The use of low value/trash fish remains high. Viet Nam is promoting offshore fishing expansion to reduce inshore fishing pressure and although vessel reduction targets are being set, they are difficult to achieve. Co-management, including awareness raising is increasing but is showing that a regulatory framework and the assignation of rights is not sufficient and significant human capacity building is required. Viet Nam recognizes the need to participate in international activities to combat IUU fishing and has drafted a NPOA on IUU fishing that is now being distributed for comment.