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Access to information, techniques and technical know-how for productive and sustainable management is a prerequisite for developing opportunities for new cultural practices and technologies.
Exchanging experience and information among developing countries and taking advantage of complementarities to upgrade skills through Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) is highly cost-effective. TCDC has enormous potential that developing countries are far from tapping sufficiently.
The relevant organizations of the United Nations system and the multilateral financial institutions can play a catalytic role in promoting TCDC and make the approach more effective. In carrying out their TCDC programmes, most developing countries are faced with resource constraints, unavailability of specific expertise or lack of certain facilities; United Nations agencies and multilateral institutions should provide support and assistance. At the High-level Committee on the Review of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, New York, 1993, the Group of 77 noted that the advantages and relevance of TCDC to the developing countries were even more significant than in the past. TCDC could be included as one of the main issues for UNDP Special Programme Resources.
Regional groupings or mechanisms could also promote and implement TCDC. Successful examples include the programmes on agricultural information, management training and poverty alleviation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Intra-regional technical cooperation and networking on fisheries is well established in the Caribbean and South Pacific regions and, to a lesser extent, in the Indian Ocean region. Both FAO and other organizations, some of which have specific fisheries management and development mandates, operate in the Caribbean and South Pacific regions. Intra-regional cooperation among small island developing States has been particularly successful in achieving common approaches to fisheries management and development with respect to resources coming under national jurisdictions. Examples include: limitations on industrial fishing, harmonisation of fisheries legislation and regionally coordinated monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) programmes. Indeed, through cooperative fisheries arrangements, many small island developing States have been able to benefit more fully from extended jurisdiction and implement fisheries management arrangements based on principles of sustainable resource use. However, the need to foster more effective fisheries cooperation among small island developing States is recognised, especially in view of the economic vulnerability of these States and the importance of fisheries production to their food security and development.
Within regions, small island developing States have developed technical cooperation arrangements in fisheries as a means of trying to reduce dependence on extra-regional expertise. Such cooperation has ranged from TCDC exchanges to inter-country training. In the South Pacific, this type of cooperation is emphasised in work undertaken for member States by the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency and the South Pacific Commission. There is a policy in the region of attempting to ensure that Pacific island nationals participate in all major national and regional fisheries consultancies executed by outside agencies.
"Regional Fisheries Bodies"
In the Caribbean region three organizations serve the fisheries needs of island member States. These bodies are the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the broader regional grouping, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the FAO body, the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC). The OECS seeks to harmonize fisheries management and development approaches among its member countries, the establishment of a coordinated regime for fisheries access to the fisheries resources of the region, and the establishment of common fishing zones. As part of this process, fisheries legislation has been reviewed with the assistance of FAO and action has been taken to enhance regional cooperation in monitoring, control and surveillance. CARICOM has organized a major fisheries research and management programme. FAO has assisted CARICOM in the negotiation of a regional fisheries access agreement for the member States of CARICOM. WECAFC principally undertakes a, coordinating role m fisheries research, facilitates education and training and assists in establishing rational management of fisheries resources that are of interest to two or more States.
Two organizations with fisheries mandates operate in the South Pacific. These organizations are the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (SPFFA) and the South Pacific Commission (SPC). These organizations. (i) technically assist member States achieve better fisheries management and resource utilization Practices, and (ii) assist member countries to achieve a reasonable financial return from the exploitation of: the tuna resources failing under national jurisdictions. As a specialized agency, the SPFFA advises member States on the formulation of fisheries policy, particularly for tuna, at national and regional levels, and supports the coordination of those policies once they have been agreed by member States. In tandem, the SPC's research activities technically underpin and support the development of management policy in the region. To avoid duplication, fisheries responsibilities are clearly demarcated, between the SPFFA (management) and the SPC (research). Moreover, formal mechanisms for inter organizational cooperation are well defined. No FAO fisheries body serves small islands in the South Pacific region, though FAO maintains close liaison with the two regional bodies.
The Indian Ocean region is, served by FAO: regional fisheries organization including the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission and the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Commission, though no island States are members of the latter organization. Under the auspices of FAO, an Indian Ocean Tuna Commission with a mandate for tuna management IS in the process of being established- It is anticipated that small island developing States in the West Indian Ocean will participate actively in it in view of the importance of tuna resources to the economics of these countries (e.g. Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles). The fledging West Indian Ocean Tuna Organization (WIOTO), modelled to a significant extent on the SPFFA, has yet to take full effect. This organization consists of coastal States, most of whom are small islands, from the West Indian Ocean region. WIOTO's purpose is principally to facilitate regional cooperation and coordination in the: management of tuna and tuna-like species.
Inter-regional technical cooperation among small island developing States is not well developed. But there have been technical exchanges between regional organizations in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean and between the South Pacific and the Caribbean. This collaboration has been conducted largely on an ad hoc basis and has focused on training, technical exchanges, and attendance at regional meetings. There is plenty of scope for strengthening such inter-regional cooperation.
Inter-regional cooperation among small island developing States and international organizations is also being fostered. Although FAO has so far played only a limited role in promoting interregional exchanges, it is well-placed to become more active in this area.
The FAO Inter-regional Conference of Small Island Countries on Sustainable Development and Environment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, held in Barbados, 7-10 April 1992, (see Appendix), provided the political framework within which further action might be taken in this regard. Subject to the availability of funding, FAO intends to organize a second Interregional Conference, in line with a recommendation of the first one. A tentative venue is Western Samoa, in early 1995. The objective would be to assist small island developing States in implementing the Action Programme to be endorsed by the UN Global Conference, by establishing an interregional network for cooperation and capacity-building. Background documents would bring together the elements of sustainable development and environment in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, showing linkages, identifying issues, and indicating potentials for sustainable development. A number of outline programmes and/or projects would address the main development issues, as referred to in the present document. These issues would provide the basis for the design of an inter-regional network at the Conference with the identification of specific regional projects to be submitted to the international donor community.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that FAO's Medium-Term Plan 1994-99 establishes five cross-sectoral priorities for the Organization: i) environment and sustainable development; ii) policy advice; iii) people in development; iv) poverty alleviation, nutrition and food security; and v) ECDC/TCDC. Under the first area of priority, specific reference is made to the following emerging areas of emphasis: climate change, biological diversity, and coastal areas and small islands.
"Some FAO-Supported Technical Cooperation Networks of Interest to SIDS"
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