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29. The Secretariat introduced this agenda item on the basis of document SAFR/DM/SWIO/00/4 "Possible options for the future regional fishery body". The Meeting noted that the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission and its subsidiary bodies, one of which was the Committee for the Development and Management of Fisheries in the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO Committee), were abolished by Resolution 1/116 of the FAO Council, at its Hundred and Sixteenth Session, in June 1999. It was further noted that the Council had authorized the Director-General to convene ad hoc meetings of the members of the former SWIO Committee, as required, in order to complete the process of establishment of a new body and to take such interim action as may be required regarding the management of the fisheries resources of the area covered by the former SWIO Committee pending the formal establishment of the new body during the period preceding its formal conversion into an Article XIV body.

30. The Meeting agreed that the area covered by the countries comprises of similar ecosystems, that the countries were a homogeneous group with similar problems and issues and that emphasis was on fisheries targeted at non-tuna species. These problems and issues included:

31. The Meeting expressed the view that many of these problems and issues could be best addressed through cooperation and collaboration as well as through shared and conjugated action by countries of the region. This could be achieved through:

32. The Meeting took note that, in principle, the activities it had identified (see previous paragraph) could be addressed by the establishment of a regional fishery body within the framework of the FAO Constitution (Article VI or XIV) or, as an independent body, outside such framework. The Meeting further noted that, in making any recommendation, it had to take into consideration the various characteristics of bodies established under Article VI and Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, the special features of independent bodies as well as the existence and the mandates of other fishery bodies or entities involved in marine affairs in the region.

33. The Meeting acknowledged the existence of other bodies or entities concerned with fisheries and marine affairs in the region such as SADC, COI and COMESA. It noted, however, that these bodies or entities either did not embrace all countries of SWIO in their membership or had areas of jurisdiction not covering the entire SWIO region. The Meeting considered the need for other regional fishery bodies or entities working in the area to keep the new regional fishery body informed on their activities and to strengthen partnerships and arrangements with other regional and international organizations.

34. The Meeting expressed strong reservations concerning the possible financial implications of a new regional fishery body on the participating countries and was of the opinion that the countries were not in a position to immediately make financial contributions to the body. However, the Meeting considered that the countries should be able to cover the costs of members' participation at meetings, to undertake cooperative activities in their respective countries, to host sessions of the body, to actively participate in the preparation and organization of sessions of the body and to seek external funding.

35. On the basis of the above considerations, the Meeting unanimously agreed to recommend to their respective Governments the establishment of a regional fishery body under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution.

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