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Code of conduct for responsible fisheries
The Mediterranean consultation

1 This section of the synthesis, which provides a summary of the work which led to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Italian support for the Mediterranean Consultation, was originally provided for the information of the authors of the national reports. It has been included here (with minor editorial changes) for reference purposes.

Code of conduct for responsible fisheries

The historical development of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code) is recorded in the Preface and Annex 1 of the Code. In summary, it records the following. The fact that aquatic (and other) resources, though renewable, are finite and need to be properly managed has recently formed a topic of global focus. Fisheries, including aquaculture, are now recognised as providing vital sources of food, employment, recreation, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world, both for present and future generations. From 1991 onwards a series of FAO actions have been taken by the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the Council, and the Conference which have culminated in the adoption at the 28th Session of the FAO Conference of the Code on 31 October 1995. The first six of the twelve Articles of the Code are general in nature.

Article 1 of the Code, in describing its nature and scope, states that it is voluntary (although some parts of it which refer to marine capture fisheries are based on relevant rules of international law) and is global in scope. The Code, which provides a series of principles and standards, is directed towards members and non-members of FAO, sub-regional, regional and global organisations (both governmental and non-governmental) and all persons concerned with the conservation of aquaculture2 resources and their management, including producers and those engaged in the processing of aquaculture products and other users of the resources which aquaculture utilises. While Article 9 refers specifically to aquaculture development, many facets of other Articles of the Code, refer to both aquaculture and capture fisheries.

2 Article 1.4 of the Code specifically states that "the term fisheries applies equally to capture fisheries and aquaculture. In summarising the objectives of the Code in this report, the word "aquaculture" has therefore generally been substituted for the word "fisheries".

Article 2 records the objectives of the Code, which, in relation to aquaculture, can be paraphrased as being to:

· establish principles for responsible aquaculture activities, taking into account all relevant biological, technological, economic, social, environmental and commercial aspects;

· establish principles and criteria for the elaboration of national policies for aquaculture development;

· serve as an instrument of reference to assist States to establish or improve the legal and institutional framework for responsible aquaculture development and in the formulation and implementation of appropriate measures;

· provide guidance which may be used where appropriate in the formulation and implementation of international agreements and other legal instruments, both binding and voluntary;

· facilitate and promote technical, financial and other cooperation in conservation of aquaculture resources, management and development;

· promote the contribution of aquaculture to food security and food quality, giving priority to the nutritional needs of local communities;

· promote protection of living aquatic resources and their environments in coastal (and riverine and catchment basin) areas;

· promote the trade of fish and fishery products in conformity with relevant international rules and avoid the use of measures that constitute hidden barriers to such trade;

· promote research on aquaculture, as well as on associated ecosystems and relevant environmental factors; and

· provide standards of conduct for all persons involved in the aquaculture sector.

Article 3 concerns the relationships of the Code with other instruments and states that the Code is to be interpreted and applied in conformity with the relevant rules of international law. Nothing in the Code prejudices the rights, jurisdiction and duties of States under international law.

Article 4 of the Code concerns the implementation, monitoring and updating of the Code. Inter alia, it notes that all members and non-members of FAO, aquaculture entities and relevant sub-regional, regional and global organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental, and all persons concerned with the conservation, management and utilisation of fisheries resources and trade in aquaculture products should collaborate in the fulfilment and implementation of the objectives and principles contained in the Code. In accordance with its role within the United Nations system, FAO will monitor the application and implementation of the Code and its effects on aquaculture and the Secretariat will report accordingly to COFI. All States, whether members or non-members of FAO, as well as relevant international organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental should actively cooperate with FAO in this work.. FAO, through its competent bodies, may revise the Code, taking into account developments in aquaculture as well as reports to COFI on the implementation of the Code. States and international organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental, should promote the understanding of the Code among those involved in aquaculture, including, where practicable, the introduction of schemes which would promote voluntary acceptance of the Code and its effective application.

Article 5 notes the special requirements of developing countries in relation to the Code. The capacity of developing countries to implement the recommendations of the Code should be taken into account. Thus, in order to achieve the objectives of the Code and to support its effective implementation, countries, relevant international organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental, and financial institutions should give full recognition to the special circumstances and requirements of developing countries. They should also work for the adoption of measures to address the needs of developing countries, especially in the areas of financial and technical assistance, technology transfer, training and scientific cooperation and in enhancing their ability to develop their own aquaculture.

The general principles of the Code are contained in the 19 sub-sections of Article 6. Those which can be related specifically to aquaculture may be summarised as follows:

· conserving living aquatic resources;

· conducting relevant research and collecting appropriate data;

· applying the precautionary approach;

· maintaining the nutritional value, quality and safety of aquaculture products during harvesting, processing and distribution, reducing wastes and minimising negative impacts on the environment;

· protecting (and rehabilitating where necessary) ecosystems such as wetlands, mangroves, reefs, lagoons, nursery and spawning areas;

· taking into account the multiple uses of coastal (and riverine and catchment basin) zones and integrating aquaculture into area management, planning and development;

· conducting international trade in aquaculture products in accordance with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement and other relevant international agreements;

· resolving disputes in a timely, peaceful and cooperative manner;

· promoting awareness of responsible aquaculture through the education and training of fish farmers and involving them in the policy formulation and implementation process, as well as the implementation of the Code itself;

· providing safe, healthy and fair working conditions for aquaculture personnel;

· protecting the rights of fish farmers, as well as those involved in subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fisheries, to a secure and just livelihood; and

· ensuring that resources are used responsibly and that adverse impacts on the environment are minimised, in order that aquaculture, including culture-based fisheries, provide a means to promote diversification of income and diet.

Articles 7-12 contain the specifics of the Code. These Articles, whose contents form the subject of the Consultation to which this national report contributes (and are therefore not summarised here), cover the following topics:

· Article 7 refers to fisheries management;

· Article 8 concerns fishing operations;

· Article 9 covers aquaculture development:

· Article 10 refers to the integration of fisheries (including aquaculture) into coastal (and other) area management;

· Article 11 concerns post-harvest practices and trade; and finally,

· Article 12 relates to fisheries (and aquaculture) research.

FAO has also issued technical guidelines for responsible fisheries (see Annex II) covering:

· Fishing operations;
· Precautionary approach to capture fisheries and species introductions;
· Integration of fisheries into coastal management;
· Fisheries management;
· Aquaculture development; and
· Inland fisheries.

Though Article 9 is specific to aquaculture development, certain sections in other Articles apply to aquaculture as well as capture fisheries. In order that the relevance and constraints in applying the Code (in all its Articles) can be discussed, the format of the national reports were structured in a logical progression from the general characteristics and trends of aquaculture (Section 1), through the administrative and legal situation (Section 2) and the policy and planning context (Section 3), to the production sector (Section 4).

The Mediterranean consultation

The details of the current Consultation in the Mediterranean are given in the Prospectus (Annex III).

A series of national reports were produced to assist in the discussion of the three main objectives of the Consultation, namely:

· to review the level of understanding and the status of application of the Code in relation to aquaculture;

· to discuss identified gaps and difficulties encountered in the application of the Code in the Mediterranean context, at regional and national levels; and

· to propose an action plan at national and regional level, which will support the application of the Code to aquaculture.

The national reports followed a common outline and form the basis for the synthesis document which follows. This synthesis is based upon a comparative analysis of the situation in all countries which permits the identification of common gaps and constraints on which to base future actions.

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