Over the past two decades, COFI has contributed to shaping the management and utilization of world fisheries and has demonstrated strong leadership in global fisheries governance. As we move into the third millenium, giving effect to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other international fishery instruments in the context of the major emerging issues is one of the major challenges that the Committee will face.
Although the Committees future agenda will take such form as it may direct in response to the global fishery situation, it is appropriate to take note of current issues as an indication of the important work that lies ahead for COFI. The depleted state of many of the worlds commercially exploited fish stocks underlines the importance of improved management and conservation. At the same time, a growing world population requires an ever greater supply of fish and fish products for food. Overlapping pressures in the fisheries sector require measures to achieve a better control of access to resources, an explicit system of resource allocation, a reduction in the capacity of the worlds fishing fleets and a better utilization of existing catches, including a reduction in discards.
Twenty years ago, COFI addressed, as a priority issue, assistance to developing countries. This again is a major issue that the Committee will need to take up in order to ensure that the implementation of recently adopted international fishery instruments contribute effectively to global fisheries governance.