21. Many delegates expressed their concern about the impact of government assistance on over-capacity and unsustainability of fisheries resources. Many delegates from developing countries underlined the importance of government assistance to artisanal and small-scale fisheries, especially in less populated areas with few or no alternative livelihoods. The Sub-Committee acknowledged the need for government expenditure on fishery research, management and vessel safety. The Sub-Committee agreed that government assistance could have both negative and positive effects.
22. Delegates highlighted the necessity of avoiding duplication of work and stressed that FAO should consult closely with other organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), WTO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and where possible, build on work already carried out by them. Delegates recommended the use of cross-departmental expertise in the task force.
23. Under agenda item 8.1, delegates endorsed FAO's creation of a task force on fisheries subsidies, based on the mandate given at the Sixth Session of the Sub-Committee. After extensive debate, it was agreed that FAO's work on fisheries subsidies/government assistance should initially be to perform a thorough and exhaustive review of the forms of subsidies in fisheries, to establish a common technical baseline for discussion. An expert consultation should be convened to examine the results of the review. A report with findings, conclusions and recommendations should be distributed to member countries before the Twenty-fourth Session of COFI for review and discussion. Further action should be decided by COFI, particularly with regard to the impact of subsidies on fishery resources sustainability and their impact on international trade in fish and fishery products. Several members expressed their interest in participating in the expert consultation.
24. Under agenda item 8.2 the Sub-Committee reiterated the conclusions of the Twenty- third Session of COFI with respect to eco-labelling1. The Sub-Committee considered that there was no mandate from COFI to proceed with a second technical consultation at this time.
25. Acknowledging FAO's competence in the conservation and management of marine resources, there was consensus that FAO should continue its work on the review of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listing criteria, in cooperation with regional fisheries management organizations and report its results to CITES for consideration.
26. The Sub-Committee underscored the importance of developing an International Plan of Action to combat Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) and expressed gratitude to Australia for hosting the forthcoming expert consultation convened to further this work. Some delegations noted the critical problems associated with flags of convenience operations. Other delegations called for the early entry into force of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
1 See paragraphs 54 to 56 of FAO Fisheries Report No. 595