FAO Fisheries Department - Committee on Fisheries
December 1996 COFI/97/Inf.10


Twenty-second Session
Rome, Italy 17-20 March 1997

1.    In December 1995 in Kyoto, Japan, representatives of 95 countries adopted the "Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action" by consensus. The Plan of Action lists a set of immediate actions to be taken by states individually or jointly, or through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in co-operation with appropriate intergovernmental or regional fishery management organisations or arrangements. The Declaration and the Plan of Action were recognized by the World Food Summit in its Plan of Action as a tool to implement sustainable fisheries management and practices in order to optimise the long-term sustainable contribution of fisheries resources to food security. This information document reports briefly on what FAO's Fisheries Department has done to implement each of the ten constituent parts of the Plan of Action.

2.     Monitoring and assessment of fisheries - including aquaculture. The Fisheries Department has prepared a "Review of World Fisheries and Aquaculture" - known by its acronym SOFIA - to be released at the occasion of the meeting of the FAO Committee of Fisheries. It reviews developments in production, trade and consumption at the global and regional levels. The department has up-dated its Review of the State of World Marine Resources and continued its Review of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture. Developments at national level are summarised in fishery country profiles.

3.     Support for regional fishery bodies. The first session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission was held at the beginning of December 1996 at FAO Headquarters. The Commission decided on the location of its Secretariat and discussed budget and staffing. The shifting of technical and administrative support to FAO regional fishery bodies from FAO Headquarters to the Organisation's regional offices continues as part of its general decentralisation policy.

4.     Multispecies and ecosystem management. No new studies on multispecies management have been undertaken. A thorough analysis of FAO species landings time-series has lead to improved understanding of the consequences of 50 years of fisheries expansion on major resources. Priority has been given to improve the quality and availability of FAO fishery and resources databases. Studies have been initiated aiming at a better understanding of the environmental effects on some of the main marine-ecosystems, including impact of organic pollution and natural medium-term climatic oscillations. The preparation of case studies on management is progressing and some will soon be published. Additional studies will be executed in the context of a follow-up project to the Kyoto Conference, funded by the Government of Japan.

5.     Fishing capacity. FAO's Fisheries Department in collaboration with the National Marine Fisheries Service of the United States of America is preparing for an expert consultation on management of fishing capacity to be held in the latter part of 1997 or early 1998. As a preparatory work, Member Nations have been asked to provide information on programmes intended to control and manage fishing capacity. The Department has solicited information on the costs of fishing for a few selected fisheries.

6.     Social, cultural and economic characteristics of fisheries. Preparations have been made for investigations and elaboration of methodologies for the study of social, cultural and economic characteristics of fisheries in the context of a follow-up project to the Kyoto Conference, funded by the Government of Japan.

7.     Multispecies management of commercial resources. Preparations are being made for a study of possible fisheries/species interactions of major commercial fisheries initially using the information available to FAO on world catches and landings. It is expected that co-operation with national research institutes will make it possible to assemble the necessary background data in a comparable fashion.

8.     Minimization of waste and discards. The Government of Japan and FAO conducted an expert consultation on this matter in November 1996 in Tokyo. The consultation reviewed discarding practices, the use of selective fishing gear to reduce incidental catch and post- harvest losses. The outcome is reported in COFI/97/Inf.7.

9.     Use of under-exploited resources. The Fisheries Department is promoting the increased use of small pelagics for food and mesopelagic species for feed. This is done through in-country specific activities funded by the regular program.

10.     Environmentally sound aquaculture. In 1996, the Fisheries Department organized an expert consultation on the use of chemicals in aquaculture in Asia in collaboration with a regional inter-governmental organization (SEAFDEC) and with participation of the private sector. A regional strategy and mechanism for the establishment of a fish health quarantine system in Asia was also developed in collaboration with another regional governmental body (NACA). In addition, the Department held an expert consultation on the development and management of small scale rural aquaculture at Headquarters in 1996.

11.     Increased contribution of fish to food security in low income food deficit countries (LIFDCs). The Department, using trust funds, continues providing training in post-harvest practices, including the application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point procedures. The Department's Technical Paper on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) was published in Spanish and French. A workshop on MCS was held in Mauritius for East Africa including island states in December 1996. The Department is preparing for a global consultation on inland fisheries enhancement to be held in Bangladesh in April 1997.