FAO Fisheries Department - Committee on Fisheries

FAO Fisheries Department

FAO Fisheries Report No. 562 FIPL/R562(En)

Report of the

TWENTY-SECOND SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES

Rome, 17-20 March 1997

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
ROME, 1997

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

M-40

ISBN 92-5-104028-1

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Publications Division , Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

© FAO 1997

PREPARATION OF THIS REPORT

This is the final version of the report as approved by the twenty-second session of the Committee on Fisheries.

Distribution
All FAO Member Nations and Associate Members
Participants in the session
Other interested Nations and International Organizations
FAO Fisheries Department
Fishery Officers in FAO Regional Offices

FAO
Report of the twenty-second session of the Committee on Fisheries. Rome, 17-20 March 1997.
FAO Fisheries Report
. No. 562. Rome, FAO. 1997. 32p.

ABSTRACT

The Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries was held from 17 to 20 March 1997. The Committee endorsed the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on the understanding that its provisions are without prejudice to the rights and obligations of States under international law. Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA reconfirmed their interpretation that the provisions of the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action would not affect the competency of, or change the current status in, other international organizations, including the International Whaling Commission. The Committee urged that the issues of excessive fishing capacity and fishing effort leading to overfishing should be given special consideration by FAO and Member Countries. The Committee reaffirmed that it was the mandate of FAO and of regional fishery bodies to take responsibility for collecting data, formulating research needs and recommending management options. The Committee emphasized the importance of the Code in the sustainable management and development of fisheries and urged FAO, other organizations and donors to provide assistance to attain the objectives of the Code at national, regional and sub-regional levels. The Committee agreed that a progress report on implementation of the Code should be presented every two years which would include information on FAO activities, proposed guidelines to implement the Code and on inter-regional programmes, as well as application at national level. Members will provide information on national implementation using a questionnaire to be designed by the Secretariat. The Committee strongly endorsed the need for effective regional fishery organizations and arrangements in the framework of the Code of Conduct if fish stocks were to be managed in a sustainable and responsible manner. It agreed that FAO regional fishery bodies should be reviewed and evaluated in depth by their members on a case by case basis, taking full account of regional and membership differences, in determining what measures might be taken to facilitate the strengthening of each body as appropriate and to report at the Twenty-third Session of COFI. The need for close coordination among FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies and, as appropriate, with other organizations such as the World Bank and active fishery projects was also stressed. It approved the report of the Fifth Session of its Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and accepted the invitation to hold the Sixth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade in conjunction with the seafood exhibition "Fisch '98" in Bremen, Germany. The Committee endorsed the three broad fisheries programme objectives for the medium-term: increased contribution to world food supplies and food security, sustainable and responsible management, and global monitoring and strategic analysis. It acknowledged that, in setting priorities for the fisheries programmes, there should be a balance between the needs of developing and developed countries and between normative and operational activities, and that the three medium-term objectives are closely interlinked. The Committee gave high priority to implementation of the Code of Conduct, including preparation of technical guidelines and practical initiatives in fisheries management and aquaculture, and strengthening the role of regional fisheries bodies. Finally, the Committee recalled the increasing contribution played by aquaculture and artisanal fisheries to fish production, food security, employment and income of rural population and called for priority to be given to the sustainable development of environmentally sound aquaculture and artisanal fisheries in inland, continental and coastal waters.

CONTENTS

MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION OF THE COUNCIL

INTRODUCTION

OPENING OF THE SESSION

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SESSION

Statement by the Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

MAJOR ISSUES IN WORLD FISHERIES

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES

STRENGTHENING OF FAO REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES

MAJOR DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON FISH TRADE, FIFTH SESSION, BREMEN, GERMANY, 4-7 JUNE 1996

PROGRAMME 2.3 FISHERIES - REVIEW OF PROGRAMME 1994/96, MEDIUM TERM PLAN 1998/2003 AND PROGRAMME OF WORK AND BUDGET 1998/99

ANY OTHER MATTERS

DATE AND PLACE OF THE TWENTY-THIRD COFI SESSION

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT

Appendix A:

Agenda

Appendix B:

List of Delegates and Observers

Appendix C:

List of Documents

Appendix D:

Statement of the Director-General,
Delivered by Mr M. Hayashi,
Assistant Director-General,
Fisheries Department

 

MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION OF THE COUNCIL

The Committee:

Major Issues in world fisheries

(i) endorsed the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on the understanding that its provisions were without prejudice to the rights and obligations of States under international law. Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA reconfirmed their interpretation that the provisions of the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action would not affect the competency of, or change the current status in, other international organizations, including the International Whaling Commission. (para.10)

(ii) urged that the issues of excessive fishing capacity and fishing effort leading to overfishing should be given special consideration by FAO and Member Countries. (para. 11)

(iii) welcomed the proposal to hold an FAO technical consultation on management of fishing capacity to be funded and hosted by the United States in 1998. (para. 12)

(iv) welcomed Australia's offer to organize with FAO a technical consultation on sustainability indicators related to fisheries. (para. 13)

(v) underlined the valuable potential of aquaculture in meeting the expected increased demand for fish. (para. 15)

(vi) reaffirmed that it was the mandate of FAO and of regional fishery bodies to take responsibility for collecting data, formulating research needs and recommending management options. (para. 18)

(vii) agreed that the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries had a central role to play in guiding and promoting concrete action to tackle world fisheries problems. (para. 19)

(viii) agreed that the UN Agreement on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and the Compliance Agreement contained key elements pertaining to fisheries sustainability, and recommended that countries ratify the Agreement as soon as possible. (para. 19)

(ix) requested FAO to inform Governments well in advance when technical and policy groups were to meet so that Governments might appoint their experts. (para. 21)

Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

(i) emphasized the importance of the Code in the sustainable management and development of fisheries. (para. 23)

(ii) appreciated Norway's offer to fund two sub-programmes of the inter-regional programme dealing, respectively, with improvement of national capacities of developing countries in monitoring, control and surveillance and with the provision of scientific advice for fisheries management. (para. 23)

(iii) urged FAO, other organizations and donors to provide assistance to attain the objectives of the Code at national, regional and sub-regional levels. (para. 25)

(iv) recalled that individual States are responsible for implementation of the Code. (para. 27)

(v) agreed that a progress report on implementation of the Code should be presented every two years which would include information on FAO activities, proposed guidelines to implement the Code and on inter-regional programmes, as well as application at national level. Members were asked to provide information on national implementation using a questionnaire to be designed by the Secretariat. (para. 29)

Strengthening of FAO Regional Fishery Bodies

(i) strongly endorsed the need for effective regional fishery organizations and arrangements in the framework of the Code of Conduct if fish stocks were to be managed in a sustainable and responsible manner. (para. 30)

(ii) agreed to the recommendations contained in document COFI/97/4 as a means of achieving enhanced fisheries management. (para. 30)

(iii) agreed that FAO regional fishery bodies should be reviewed and evaluated in depth by their members on a case by case basis, taking full account of regional and membership differences, in determining what measures might be taken to facilitate the strengthening of each body as appropriate. (para. 31)

(iv) requested that FAO make a status report to its Twenty-third Session on its findings with regard to such review. (para. 31)

(v) stressed that there should be close coordination among FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies and, as appropriate, with other organizations such as the World Bank and active fishery projects. (para. 32)

(vi) agreed that FAO should primarily facilitate sub-regional and regional fishery management through building up of the regional fishery bodies' capacity to analyse fisheries data and provide technical advice on management. (para. 33)

(vii) acknowledged that these bodies required adequate funding in order to responsibly discharge their respective mandates. Such funding could involve increased commitment by members and donors assistance. (para. 34)

Major decisions and recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, fifth session, Bremen, Germany, 4-7 June 1996

(i) approved the report of the Fifth Session of its Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and accepted the invitation to hold the Sixth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade in conjunction with the seafood exhibition "Fisch '98" in Bremen, Germany. (para. 39)

Programme 2.3 Fisheries - Review of Programme 1994/96, Medium-Term Plan 1998/2003 and Programme of Work and Budget 1998/99

(i) commented favourably on FAO's implementation of the Fisheries Programme in the 1994-1996 period especially in the area of collection, analysis and dissemination of fishery statistics and information. Delegations also noted the work undertaken to elaborate and

begin implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Compliance Agreement and related UN agreements, the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as the role of fisheries in the World Food Summit Plan of Action. (para. 41)

(ii) appreciated the elaboration of the FAO Programme of Fisheries Assistance for Small Island Developing States, as strongly endorsed by the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, and urged FAO to proceed with the Programme's implementation without delay. (para. 42)

(iii) reaffirmed that FAO has a clear mandate for fisheries and aquaculture and is the leading specialized agency within the UN system, having a broad and extensive range of fisheries expertise in these areas. (para. 43)

(iv) endorsed the three broad fisheries programme objectives for the medium-term: increased contribution to world food supplies and food security, sustainable and responsible management, and global monitoring and strategic analysis. (para. 44)

(v) recognized the challenging need to prioritize objectives and activities for the upcoming Programme of Work and Budget. (para. 45)

(vi) acknowledged that, in setting priorities for the fisheries programmes, there should be a balance between the needs of developing and developed countries and between normative and operational activities, and that the three medium-term objectives were closely interlinked. (para. 46)

(vii) gave high priority to implementation of the Code of Conduct, including preparation of technical guidelines and practical initiatives in fisheries management and aquaculture, and strengthening the role of regional fisheries bodies. (para. 48)

(viii) recalled the increasing contribution played by aquaculture and artisanal fisheries to fish production, food security, employment and income of rural population and called for priority to be given to the sustainable development of environmentally sound aquaculture and artisanal fisheries in inland, continental and coastal waters. (para. 50)

(ix) recognized FAO’s lead role in the follow-up to UNCED in fisheries, as well as the important interaction between fisheries, aquaculture and the environment, particularly with respect to the role of FAO in the joint implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. (para. 52)

INTRODUCTION

1. The Committee on Fisheries held its Twenty-second Session at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, from 17 to 20 March 1997.

2. The Session was attended by delegates from 92 Members of the Committee, by observers from 13 other Member Nations and the Holy See, by two observers from non-Member Nations of FAO, by a representative from the United Nations and representatives from three specialized agencies of the United Nations and by observers from 28 intergovernmental and international non-governmental organizations. The list of countries and organizations represented at the session are shown in Appendix B.

OPENING OF THE SESSION

3. Mr Mohamed Tangi, outgoing Chairman, opened the Session and welcomed delegates. He welcomed the newly appointed Assistant Director-General (Fisheries), Mr M. Hayashi, and expressed the hope that under his leadership the Fisheries Department would be given new impetus to assist Member Nations in their efforts to conserve and manage the fisheries resources.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SESSION

4. On behalf of the European Community, the Netherlands delegation requested that ample time be allotted for discussion of Agenda Item 8 (Programme 2.3 Fisheries) in view of its importance to the Community. The German delegation requested that they be allowed to make an announcement with respect to Agenda Item 7 (Major decisions and recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade) if possible during the afternoon sitting of 17 March 1997. The observer from the International Fishmeal and Oil Manufacturers Association (IFOMA) requested that the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the issue of the "Marine Stewardship Council" be discussed within the next two days. The agenda was adopted, taking these statements into consideration, as it was contained in document COFI/97/1 (Appendix A). The documents which were before the Committee are listed in Appendix C.

Statement by the Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department

5. The Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department, in his opening statement on behalf of the Director-General, welcomed participants. He highlighted major developments in fisheries since the Twenty-first Session of the Committee and hoped that the Twenty-second Session would fully discuss issues and Programme of Work and formulate recommendations taking into account the priorities for the 1998/99 biennium and the Medium-Term Plan (1998-2003) of the Fisheries Department.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

6. Mr William Martin (USA) was unanimously elected Chairperson of the Committee. Mr M.K.S. Akyeampong (Ghana) was elected First Vice-Chairperson, and Mr Lauri Vaarja (Estonia), Mr Osvaldo Perez (Colombia), Ms Mary Harwood (Australia) and Mr Meigolinejad (Iran, Islamic Republic of) as other Vice-Chairpersons.

7. The Committee also appointed Mr Jean-François Pulvenis (Venezuela) as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee.

8. In expressing his appreciation for having been elected, the Chairperson emphasized the need for the current Session to recommend actions to address major fisheries issues.

MAJOR ISSUES IN WORLD FISHERIES

9. The agenda item was introduced on the basis of document COFI/97/2 and related documents prepared for information. The Secretariat drew attention to the growing world demand for fish and the need to emphasize management of stocks so as to ensure their sustainability.

10. Japan introduced the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action to the Committee for its consideration and endorsement according to the request from the Kyoto Conference, explaining that it was adopted by consensus with a statement of four countries clarifying their interpretation of it. The Committee endorsed the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on the understanding that its provisions were without prejudice to the rights and obligations of States under international law. Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and the United States reconfirmed their interpretation that the provisions of the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action would not affect the competency of, or change the current status in, other international organizations, including the International Whaling Commission. As a follow-up, Japan, with FAO, organized an expert consultation on fish discards and wastage in Tokyo in October 1996, and had set up a three year trust fund project with FAO to address specific issues raised at the Kyoto Conference.

11. The Committee urged that the issues of excessive fishing capacity and fishing effort leading to overfishing should be given special consideration by FAO and Member Countries. Many delegations also stressed that frequent use of direct and indirect subsidies in fisheries often aggravated excess capacity. Other delegations pointed out that the effects of subsidies cannot be systematically linked with fishing overcapacity.

12. The Committee welcomed the proposal to hold an FAO technical consultation on management of fishing capacity to be funded and hosted by the United States in 1998. The main purpose will be to draft guidelines for the control and management of fishing capacities, as well as addressing the related factors. The guidelines will be published by FAO. The consultation would be followed up by a policymakers meeting to report on what has been done to identify when actions and what action would be appropriate given the circumstances.

13. The importance of strengthening fisheries management to achieve sustainable development was emphasized and the Committee welcomed Australia's offer to organize with FAO a technical consultation on sustainability indicators related to fisheries.

14. Several delegations reported on programmes to reduce discards and bycatch through fishing gear modifications and management measures. The Committee was informed that FAO was preparing additional guidelines on this subject. Canada indicated that, following the Kyoto Conference and the Tokyo Expert Consultation on this subject, it was planning to host with FAO an expert consultation on sustainable harvesting technologies and practices including reduction of discards and bycatches. Some delegations reported on successful results of campaigns to cut down bycatch, as well as on successful attempts to find uses for species that had previously been discarded.

15. In emphasizing the importance of fisheries and aquaculture in the generation of income, employment and its contribution to food security the Committee underlined the valuable potential of aquaculture in meeting the expected increased demand for fish. Nevertheless some countries indicated that, in the course of promoting aquaculture development, they faced problems of pollution and degradation of the aquatic and coastal environment. They requested FAO to devote attention to these problems which could jeopardize the existing opportunities.

16. Some delegations expressed concern about incidental catch of sea birds and proposed that FAO, in collaboration with Japan and the United States, organize, using extra-budgetary funds, an expert consultation with regional experts from inside and outside governments to develop and propose guidelines leading to a plan of action to be submitted at the next Session of the Committee aiming at a reduction in such incidental catch. Japan and the United States indicated their willingness to collaborate with FAO in the organization of such a meeting.

17. Many delegations expressed the view that conservation and effective management of shark populations merited further examination. It was suggested that FAO organize, in collaboration with Japan and the United States using extra-budgetary funds, an expert consultation to develop and propose guidelines leading to a plan of action to be submitted to the next Session. Japan and the United States indicated their willingness to organize such a meeting in collaboration with FAO. On a parallel track, the Committee also called upon existing regional fishery management bodies and, where appropriate, other competent organizations or arrangements, to explore mechanisms for all aspects of shark conservation and management.

18. The Committee, having been informed of the proposal to create the marine species working group in the framework of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), reaffirmed that it was the mandate of FAO and of regional fishery bodies to take responsibility for collecting data, formulating research needs and recommending management options.

19. The Committee agreed that the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries had a central role to play in guiding and promoting concrete action to tackle world fisheries problems. The Committee also agreed that the 1995 UN Agreement on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and the 1993 Compliance Agreement contained key elements pertaining to fisheries sustainability, and recommended that countries ratify the Agreements as soon as possible.

20. The importance of monitoring, control and surveillance as an integral component of fisheries management was emphasized. There were advantages in international and regional cooperation in this field, not least with the objective of cutting costs. Several delegations expressed support for an FAO expert consultation on the subject, where guidelines to the Code of Conduct could be developed and technical matters discussed.

21. The Committee requested FAO to inform Governments well in advance when technical and policy groups were to meet so that Governments might appoint their experts.

22. Several delegations emphasized the importance of ecosystem management. They also stressed the importance of studies on the socio-economic aspects of fisheries.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES

23. The Committee emphasized the importance of the Code in the sustainable management and development of fisheries. It expressed its appreciation of the role played by the Secretariat in supporting the implementation of the Code. The Committee appreciated Norway's offer to fund two sub-programmes of the Inter-regional Programme of Assistance to Development Countries for the Implementation of the Code, dealing, respectively, with the improvement of national capacities of developing countries in monitoring, control and surveillance and the provision of scientific advice for fisheries management.

24. Many delegations reported on activities undertaken to implement the Code. A number of delegations stressed the importance of reporting data on fishing vessels and catch statistics both within exclusive economic zones and on the high seas. It was noted that data on high seas fishing could be submitted to FAO regardless of whether or not the UN Agreement on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and the Compliance Agreement had been ratified.

25. The Committee urged FAO, other organizations and donors to provide assistance to attain the objectives of the Code at national, regional and sub-regional levels.

26. A number of international governmental and non-governmental organizations referred to their initiatives and commitment in supporting the implementation of the Code, particularly in the areas of research and the dissemination of the Code to industry and fishing communities.

27. The Committee recalled that individual States are responsible for implementation of the Code. It was stressed that the industry and fishing communities should know the Code and its importance and dissemination at grass roots level needs to be further promoted.

28. In response to queries with regard to the status of the guidelines, the Secretariat explained that the technical guidelines had no formal legal status, and that they were intended to provide general advice in support of the implementation of the Code.

29. The Committee agreed that a progress report on implementation of the Code should be presented every two years which would include information on FAO activities, proposed guidelines to implement the Code and on inter-regional programmes, as well as application at national level. Members would provide information on national implementation using a questionnaire to be designed by the Secretariat.

STRENGTHENING OF FAO REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES

30. The Committee strongly endorsed the need for effective regional fishery organizations and arrangements in the framework of the Code of Conduct if fish stocks were to be managed in a sustainable and responsible manner. In this context, the Committee agreed to the recommendations contained in document COFI/97/4 as a means of achieving enhanced fisheries management.

31. The Committee agreed that FAO regional fishery bodies should be reviewed and evaluated in depth by their members on a case by case basis, taking full account of regional and membership differences, in determining what measures might be taken to facilitate the strengthening of each body as appropriate. Several delegations stated that one option would be to transform the bodies established under Article VI of the FAO Constitution into bodies under Article XIV. The Committee further requested that FAO make a status report on its findings to its Twenty-third Session.

32. Concern was expressed about the need to avoid duplication of effort where different regional fishery bodies were mandated to operate in the same geographical area. The Committee stressed that there should be close coordination among FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies and, as appropriate, with other organizations such as the World Bank and active fishery projects. The type and scope of collaboration between FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies could be technically wide ranging.

33. The Committee agreed that FAO should primarily facilitate sub-regional and regional fishery management through building up of the regional fishery bodies' capacity to analyse fisheries data and provide technical advice on management.

34. The Committee acknowledged that these bodies required adequate funding in order to discharge their respective mandates in a responsible manner. Such funding could involve increased commitment by Members and assistance by donors.

35. It was noted that inland fishery management bodies were taking on an increasing and more important role in the management of fisheries in international river and lake systems. Consequently, at the request of the parties, inland regional fishery bodies may assist in the preparation of bilateral, trilateral and sub-regional arrangements of the type proposed in document COFI/97/4 for such river or lake systems.

MAJOR DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON FISH TRADE, FIFTH SESSION, BREMEN, GERMANY, 4-7 JUNE 1996

36. This item was discussed on the basis of document COFI/97/5 The Committee also had at its disposal documents COFI/97/Inf.9 and COFI/97/Inf.12.

37. Widespread concern was voiced concerning establishment of the "Marine Stewardship Council" (MSC). Many delegates questioned the transparency of the process, the responsibility and competence for the development of principles and criteria for sustainable fisheries; as well as the source and use of scientific evidence in this process. Several delegations also referred to possible discrimination against products on the market and considered that MSC could pose a threat to developing countries and a potential trade barrier leading to market advantages to some States. One delegation stated that it was not appropriate for the Committee to express an opinion on private initiatives of this nature. Some delegations stated that WTO was the forum to discuss the issues related to trade and the environment. Other members stated that FAO was also an appropriate forum to discuss these issues.

38. A proposal by Norway, suggesting that the Committee request FAO to prepare for an informal discussion on issues related to eco-labelling of fishery products was discussed and supported by a number of countries, but no consensus was reached.

39. The Committee approved the report of the Fifth Session of its Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and accepted the invitation to hold the Sixth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade in conjunction with the seafood exhibition "Fisch '98" in Bremen, Germany.

PROGRAMME 2.3 FISHERIES - REVIEW OF PROGRAMME 1994/96, MEDIUM-TERM PLAN 1998/2003 AND PROGRAMME OF WORK AND BUDGET 1998/99

40. The Secretariat introduced the item with a review of the implementation of the programme during the previous biennium, together with an outline of perspectives for the medium term and priorities for the coming biennium contained in COFI/97/6 and COFI/97/6-SUP.1

41. The Committee commented favourably on FAO's implementation of the Fisheries Programme in the 1994-1996 period especially in the area of collection, analysis and dissemination of fishery statistics and information. Delegations also noted the work undertaken to elaborate and begin implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Compliance Agreement and related UN agreements, the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as the role of fisheries in the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

42. In the framework of assistance to developing countries, the importance of which was stressed, the Committee appreciated the elaboration of the FAO Programme of Fisheries Assistance for Small Island Developing States, as strongly endorsed by the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, and urged FAO to proceed with the Programme's implementation without delay.

43. The Committee reaffirmed that FAO had a clear mandate for fisheries and aquaculture and was the leading specialized agency within the UN system, having a broad and extensive range of fisheries expertise in these areas. It noted that FAO's mandate included both normative and operational activities, and that FAO had a key role to play in promoting the continued implementation and follow-up of international initiatives such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCED) and those noted in paragraph 41 above.

44. Recognizing the growing number of major issues in world fisheries and aquaculture, the Committee endorsed the three broad fisheries programme objectives for the medium-term: increased contribution to world food supplies and food security, sustainable and responsible management, and global monitoring and strategic analysis.

45. In taking note of FAO's budgetary constraints and the efforts being made by the Organization to generate efficiency savings, the Committee recognized the challenging need to prioritize objectives and activities for the upcoming Programme of Work and Budget. In doing so, most delegations urged FAO to allocate sufficient budget resources to the Fisheries Department to enable FAO to maintain its capacity to carry out its fisheries programmes.

46. The Committee acknowledged that, in setting priorities for the fisheries programmes, there should be a balance between the needs of developing and developed countries and between normative and operational activities, and that the three medium-term objectives were closely interlinked. In this context, prioritization should focus on tasks where FAO can build on particular competence in fisheries, avoid duplication of activities with other organizations of the broader UN system, promoting collaboration with Intergovernmental Organizations, Non-governmental Organizations and the private sector. It further noted that indicators of performance to assess progress against objectives, now under development by the Organization, would facilitate review and prioritization of the programmes in the future.

47. Many delegations suggested areas of higher or lower priority. The collection, analysis and dissemination of information on world fisheries and aquaculture was recognized as a core activity which provided the foundation for assessing conservation and management practices, and monitoring the effects of implementing the various international instruments both on fishery resources and the fishers and fish workers who depended on them.

48. The Committee gave high priority to implementation of the Code of Conduct, including preparation of technical guidelines and practical initiatives in fisheries management and aquaculture, and strengthening the role of regional fisheries bodies.

49. High priority was also given to work related to scientific research and data collection, to identifying and reducing excess capacity, reducing discards and wastes, to increasing the use of the precautionary approach, and to strengthening monitoring, control and surveillance.

50. The Committee recalled the increasing contribution played by aquaculture and artisanal fisheries to fish production, food security, employment and income of rural population and called for priority to be given to the sustainable development of environmentally sound aquaculture and artisanal fisheries in inland, continental and coastal waters.

51. Several delegations gave priority to the study of the impact of subsidies on sustainable development and management of fisheries and to assessing and monitoring the present and future demand and supply of fish. Other delegations highlighted the need to study multi-species management and socio-economic implications of fisheries.

52. The Committee recognized FAO’s lead role in the follow-up to UNCED in fisheries and, as well as the important interaction between fisheries, aquaculture and the environment, particularly with respect to the role of FAO in the joint implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. Lower priority was indicated by many delegations for activities on trade and market information and for some environment-related activities when these could be more appropriately undertaken by other international organizations.

53. Several delegations urged FAO to seek extra-budgetary support for operational activities, such as improving research capacity and training, and to reduce the decline in the field programme, which was particularly important for small-scale fisheries and environmentally sound aquaculture development and their contribution to increased food security.

54. Given the increasing importance of aquaculture as a means of providing employment and contributing to food security, the Chinese delegation proposed that a sub-committee on aquaculture be established under the Committee's auspices. Due to budgetary constraints and other factors, some delegations questioned whether such a sub-committee was needed to be established or if the work could be accomplished by the Committee. A number of delegations supported the Chinese proposal. The Chinese delegation expressed the willingness of its Government to assist FAO to organize an experts consultation in order to work out a concrete programme for consideration by the Committee at its Twenty-third Session. It was recognized that extra-budgetary funds would be required for such a consultation.

ANY OTHER MATTERS

55. Concern was expressed about the low representation of delegates of developing countries at the Committee. The Secretariat recognized the problem but indicated that there were no funds to support their pay for attendance at the Sessions. The Secretariat, therefore, suggested that donor agencies consider providing assistance to support the participation of developing country delegations at future Sessions.

DATE AND PLACE OF THE TWENTY-THIRD COFI SESSION

56. It was agreed that the Committee should meet in Rome in early 1999. The exact date would be determined by the Director-General in consultation with the Chairperson.

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT

57. The report was adopted on 20 March 1997.

APPENDIX A

Agenda

  1. Opening of the Session

  2. Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable

  3. Election of Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Rapporteur

  4. Major Issues in World Fisheries

  5. Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

  6. Strengthening FAO Regional Fishery Bodies

  7. Major Decisions and Recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, Fifth Session, Bremen, Germany, 4-7 June 1996

  8. Programme 2.3 Fisheries - Review of Programme 1994/96, Medium Term Plan 1998-2003 and Programme of Work and Budget 1998/99

  9. Date and place of the Twenty-third COFI Session

  10. Any other matters

  11. Adoption of the Report

APPENDIX C

List of Document

COFI/97/1 Provisional Agenda and Timetable
2 Major Issues in World Fisheries
3 Progress Report on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
4 Strengthening FAO Regional Fishery Bodies
5 Major Decisions and Recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, Fifth Session, Bremen, Germany, 4-7 June 1996
6
6 Sup.1
Programme 2.3 Fisheries - Review of Programme 1994/96, Medium Term Plan 1998-2003 and Programme of Work and Budget 1998/99
COFI/97/Inf.1 Provisional list of documents
Inf.2 Provisional list of delegates
Inf.3 Statement by the Director-General
Inf.4 The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture
Inf.5 Report of the Twenty-first Session of the Committee on Fisheries (Rome, 10-13 March 1995)
Inf.6 Essential Role of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance in Fisheries Management
Inf.7 Fisheries By Catch and Discards
Inf.8 Report on the Changes in the Statutes and Agreements Establishing FAO Fishery Bodies
Inf.9 Report of the Fifth Session of the Committee on Fisheries Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, Bremen, Germany, 4-7 June 1996
Inf.10 Progress Report on the Follow-up to the International Conference on Sustainable Contribution of Fish to Food Security
Inf.11 Report on the Implementation of the FAO Programme of Fisheries Assistance to Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
Inf.12 Initiatives of Non-Governmental Organizations Regarding Sustainable Resource Use and Environmental Protection in Fisheries
Inf.13 Termination of Reporting Concerning the Implementation of the Strategy adopted by the 1984 FAO World Fisheries Conference on Fisheries Management and Development and Replacement by Reporting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

 

Statement of the Director-General

Delivered by Mr M. Hayashi, Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department

Mr Chairman
Distinguished Delegates and Observers
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you here today to this Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries.

I would like to start this opening statement by recalling several important developments that have taken place since the last session of COFI which I feel will provide useful background for your deliberations during this Session. These developments include the adoption of the Rome Consensus on World Fisheries, the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action for Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security. Furthermore, a unique event in the history of the Organization took place here in Rome in November last year, when 82 Heads of States and Governments, 15 Vice-Presidents and over 100 other heads of delegations and observers gathered at the World Food Summit to tackle the issues behind food security, and adopted the Rome Declaration on Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action. The solemn commitments enshrined in these documents will guide our actions at Headquarters as well as in the field.

Mr Chairman,

As you know well, one of your Committee’s two principal constitutional tasks is to consider and further strengthen international cooperation in fisheries. The other task is to review the FAO programme in fisheries and to provide guidance for it. In the discharge of the first function, you are invited to examine a number of important aspects of the world fisheries situation, and your comments and advice are sought on a number of key issues. In the second task, you will have an opportunity to review the medium-term perspectives and programme priorities for fisheries and the proposed work of FAO in fisheries during 1998-1999.

As you are all aware, distinguished delegates, far-reaching changes have been taking place in world fisheries. Fisheries and aquaculture provide a significant amount of food and are sources of livelihood for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. In the last five years, aquaculture has expanded rapidly, while production of capture fisheries has been stable at between 85 and 90 million tonnes and only small increases in supplies are to be expected from capture fisheries in the near future.

Furthermore, although supplies of seafood may keep pace with demand worldwide, this does not mean that the needs of all consumers will be satisfied. It is conceivable - although not inevitable - that the chronically poor and food insecure will be worse off in the short run as price increases and distribution problems could keep seafood, and other protein rich food, out of their reach.

In this context, international public concern with fisheries and aquaculture is focused on features of the sectors which may be seen as threats to their long-term capacity to provide both food and a source of livelihood. Among the major features or issues are overfishing, by-catch and discarding as well as degradation and modification of the aquatic ecosystem.

In our efforts to seek solutions to these problems we should be wary of relying exclusively on market forces. In the particular issue of overfishing, history shows that therein lies the road to overcapitalization in industrial fisheries and excessive pressure in the case of small-scale fisheries and a headlong chase in pursuit of greater harvests. This has led to the collapse of some fisheries and fish stocks.

In our efforts to ensure a healthy aquatic ecosystem, long-term sustainability of fisheries and food security for the world’s increasing population, a combination of technological, economic, and legal solutions , as well as rationalized systems might be examined. In this context, the urgency to restructure and strengthen regional fishery bodies and arrangements becomes a priority. This is a major agenda item for this session of the Committee and I shall come back to it shortly.

Mr Chairman,

In endorsing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries at its Twenty-first Session in March 1995, the Committee, with a sense of realism and pragmatism, recognized that not all of the individual elements of the Code were necessarily applicable or appropriate to all States and circumstances. Nevertheless, they provide an important source of guidance for all concerned with sustainable development and management of world fisheries and aquaculture and their sustained contribution to food security.

In the resolution adopted by the Conference regarding follow-up to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Director-General was requested to provide your Committee and the Organization’s Governing Bodies with periodic reports on the progress achieved in implementing the Code.

You will be informed during this session of the steps that have been taken in this respect. We have noted with satisfaction initiatives recently taken or planned at national and international levels for the implementation of the Code. Your advice will be sought on proposals for future progress reports to be prepared in collaboration with States and concerned international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

The Director-General has given instructions that at forthcoming sessions of FAO regional fishery bodies the practical implications and the assistance requirements of implementing the Code of Conduct at regional and national levels be thoroughly reviewed. In this regard, I wish to stress that FAO will continue to fulfil its leading role in assisting Member States to achieve greater self-reliance in sustainable management of fisheries resources through, among other things, judicious implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

However, this task cannot be accomplished without the sustained cooperation of our partners. In this respect, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to those States and organizations which have already responded generously to the appeal made by the Conference for support, both financial and in other forms, in ensuring the effective implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Mr Chairman,

At its last session, the Committee noted that recent developments in the conservation and management of fisheries had made necessary a review of the structures and functions of FAO regional fishery bodies in order to improve their effectiveness.

The role of regional fishery bodies is to promote responsible fisheries through improved conservation and management of resources by their members. Member Governments should also look at the bodies as a means of assisting one another to acquire new technologies, to build competence for research and management, and thus to reinforce individual and collective self-reliance. Regional fishery bodies should also be used to bring fishery management and development to the central stage of government planning, policy making and allocation of resources.

The effectiveness of these bodies will depend on clear political commitment on the part of their members to implement management measures as well as their technical and financial support. FAO will continue to assist these bodies to operate while arrangements for their strengthening and appropriate restructuring are decided by their members and the transitional process is put in train.

The advice and views of your Committee at this Session, Mr Chairman, will therefore be of great value and interest as we seek ways of restructuring and strengthening these bodies with a view to helping their members face the task involved in the responsible development and management of their fisheries.

Mr Chairman,

I would like to say a few words on the Review of the Programme of Work of the Organization in the field of fisheries, which relates to the second of your two principal constitutional responsibilities that I mentioned at the beginning.

Since 1993, the Organization’s policy has put emphasis on decentralization of its activities aiming at improving its efficiency and effectiveness. Since 1996, most FAO regional fishery bodies have been operating from the FAO Regional Offices, with their Secretariats located in their respective regions. This has enabled them to provide all necessary information and maintain close links with their members. At the same time corresponding reductions have been made in the cost of the preparation of publications and documents and the duration of meetings. Technical and scientific support, however, has been supplemented, as necessary and where possible, by the Fisheries Department at Headquarters.

The priorities for the 1998/99 biennium and the Medium-Term Plan 1998-2003 have been elaborated with respect to the evolving prospects and outlook for world fishery resources and production, Member Nations’ objectives, the various instruments adopted under United Nations and FAO auspices and FAO’s strategic plan. In planning and carrying out all these activities we continue to look to your Committee for its experienced advice and counsel.

FAO continues to be grateful to its donors and contributors. In this respect, I would like to make special mention of the envisaged collaboration between FAO and the World Bank in the area of fisheries. The World Bank has indicated its interest in collaborating with FAO in several specific activities in fisheries and also in promoting the Special Programme for Food Security.

I wish you a highly productive and useful meeting and an enjoyable stay in Rome.

Thank you.