134. 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 must continue to improve its performance.
135. The participants at the APFIC RCFM recognized that the APFIC Members are adapting well to new challenges that are facing fishers and aquaculturists in the APFIC region. The RCFM emphasized the need for continuing commitment from key stakeholders and recognized the cooperation and collaboration that is emerging in the region.
136. The participants at the RCFM reviewed the main themes of the programme of work of APFIC over recent years and were informed of the developments and achievements of the APFIC member countries. In this respect, the RCFM concluded that:
137. Some progress has been made in reducing low value/trash fish production. Improvements have been made in fishing gears, zoning and some efforts have been made to reduce capacity in the trawl sector. Greater advances have been made in the area of value addition and improved handling contributing to improved utilization of catch.
138. However, there remains still significant production and a high proportion of low value/trash fish is raising concern about the growth of overfishing, including juveniles from high-value long-living species and this requires further attention by the member countries. There has been some progress in replacing the use of low value/trash fish with compounded feeds in aquaculture.
139. The RCFM emphasized the importance of mainstreaming co-management approaches as part of fisheries management. Based on feedback from member countries, it is apparent that co-management has been increasingly mainstreamed and now forms a significant part of fisheries management, particularly the management of inland, inshore and coastal fisheries and some forms of aquaculture in the region. Co-management approaches differ across countries, but the fundamental aspect of improved dialogue on decision-making between fisheries agencies and fishers and fish farmers is common to all.
140. 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 country progress against these action plans noting the FAO guidelines for aquaculture certification will be submitted to the third session of COFI-AQ.
141. 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.
142. APFIC can 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.
143. 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 through targeted communications and networking activities.
144. APFIC should monitor the recent changes in member countries’ policies and the drivers of these changes. 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.
145. 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.
146. 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).
147. 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 the capabilities of APFIC to undertake directly. The following tasks require attention and APFIC urges organizations and arrangements to undertake these and communicate the results to APFIC for onward dissemination: