1. The Ad hoc Technical Meeting on the Future of the Southwest Indian Ocean Committee was held at the Fisheries Research Centre, Albion, Mauritius, from 24 to 27 January 2000, at the kind invitation of the Government of the Republic of Mauritius.
2. The Meeting was attended by thirteen delegates from seven member countries of the former Committee, and observers from two regional organizations - the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Commission de l'Ocean Indien (COI). The list of delegates and observers is given in Appendix B.
3. The Minister of Fisheries and Co-operatives, the Hon. Dr D. Beeharry, welcomed the delegates to Mauritius and officially opened the Meeting. In his opening speech, he stressed the importance of fish as food to the people of Mauritius noting that globally as well as in Mauritius many of the fisheries were already fully exploited and need careful management for their sustainable exploitation. The Hon Dr Beeharry's speech is attached as Appendix D to the report.
4 During the opening ceremony, a statement was made on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Mr Jacques Diouf, and the Sub-Regional Representative for Southern and Eastern Africa, Ms Victoria Sekitoleko, by the Chief of the International Institutions and Liaison Service, FAO Fisheries Department, Mr. B. Satia.
5. Mr. Satia thanked the Government of Mauritius for hosting the Meeting and referred to the importance of non-tuna marine resources as a source of food security and employment for the Island and East African States of the region. While these resources may not cross national boundaries to the same extent as tuna, their dependent fisheries shared many of the same problems. Regionally, member countries wished to mobilise their fisherfolk in a way that would improve their livelihood and this could be done within a regional framework to prevent overexploitation and ensure food security. Mr Satia recalled that the FAO Council at its Hundred and Sixteenth Session in June 1999, authorised the Director-General to convene ad hoc meetings as required in order to complete the process of establishment of a new body and to take such interim action, as required, regarding the management of fisheries resources of the area covered by the former SWIO Committee pending the formal establishment of the new body.
6. Mr. M. Munbodh, Principal Fisheries Officer and Head of Albion Fisheries Research Centre, acted as the master-of-ceremony. He welcomed delegations to the Meeting and traced the history of the former Committee for the Development and Management of Fisheries in the South West Indian Ocean.