December 1998 COFI/99/5 Part II(Rev.)

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Twenty-third Session
Rome, Italy, 15-19 February 1999


At its Twenty-second Session in March 1997, COFI made a number of requests and recommendations to the Secretariat and Members. This paper summarizes actions taken by the FAO Fisheries Department, usually in collaboration with Members, to address the principal requests and recommendations directed to the Secretariat.

1. Listed hereunder are the requests and recommendations of the Twenty-second Session of COFI directed to the Secretariat and their implementation by the Fisheries Department.

2. The text in the action column includes, as appropriate, the Agenda Item under which the issue is to be addressed, and a reference in brackets to the appropriate document.



(relevant paragraph numbers of the Report of the Twenty-second Session are given in brackets)


Major Issues in World Fisheries


FAO and member countries are urged to give special consideration to issues of excessive fishing capacity and effort (para. 11). COFI welcomed the proposal to hold an FAO technical consultation on management of fishing capacity to be funded and hosted by the United States of America in 1998 (para. 12)

FAO, in collaboration with Japan and the United States, should organize, using extra-budgetary funds, an expert consultation on the reduction of incidental catch of sea birds in longline fisheries (para. 16)

FAO should organize, in collaboration with Japan and the United States, using extra-budgetary funds, an expert consultation to develop and provide guidelines leading to a plan of action on the conservation and effective management of shark fisheries (para.17)


The Fisheries Department, using extra-budgetary funds provided by Japan and the United States, organized three technical working groups - one on each subject - which met in the spring of 1998, to review technical guidelines and consider contents of international plans of action. The results were reviewed in a preparatory meeting organized at FAO HQs in July 1998 (funded by the EC and Norway).

The outcome of the July 1998 Consultation was further reviewed at the Consultation held at FAO HQs in October 1998 (funded by Japan and the United States). The report of the October Consultation is given in COFI/99/5 Part III.

The Consultation approved the following documents:

  • Draft International [Guidelines] [Plan of Action] for the Management of Fishing Capacity (COFI/99/5, Part III).
  • Draft International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (COFI/99/5, Part III)
  • Draft International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (COFI/99/5, Part III)

The Consultation recommended that the Fisheries Department should prepare a proposal to the present session of COFI identifying the activities it considers appropriate to carry out in support of the implementation of the conclusions, including the possibility of an FAO technical consultation on the handling of fishing capacity spill over effects and vessel disposal practices at regional and global levels. The Regular Programme and extra-budgetary resources needed to carry out these activities should also be identified and included in the proposal. The proposal by the Fisheries Department to this recommendation is contained in document COFI/99/5 Part IV.

2. Australia and FAO organize a technical consultation on sustainability indicators related to fisheries (para. 13)

The meeting is scheduled for January 1999.

3. Canada and FAO, with funds provided by Canada, should organize an Expert Consultation on Sustainable Harvesting Technologies and Practices Including Reduction of Discards and By-catches (para 14)


FAO, in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada and Canadian Industrial Development Agency, organized the Expert Consultation in St.John's, Newfoundland, 1-6 March 1998. Forty-one fishers, fishing technologists and fisheries administrators reviewed progress and discussed developments in selective fishing and impact of fishing activities on the marine habitat. The Expert Consultation made recommendation to governments, FAO and other international organizations on future actions that can lead to a reduction in discards and environmental impact of fishing operations. The Expert Consultation stressed the need for industry participation in fisheries research from problem identification through to the implementation of successful technologies. The report of the Consultation is available as FAO Fisheries Report No 588.

4. Countries should ratify, as soon as possible, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Compliance Agreement (para. 19)

By Circular State Letter of 7 May 1998, FAO Members were invited to accept and ratify/accede to as appropriate, these agreements and to implement them. As of 15 November 1998, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement had 19 ratifications/accessions (Bahamas, Fiji, Iceland, Islamic Republic of Iran, Mauritius, Micronesia, Namibia, Nauru, Norway, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tonga, United States of America). The Compliance Agreement had been accepted by 12 FAO Members (Argentina, Benin, Canada, European Community, Georgia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Namibia, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, United States of America)

Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

5. FAO, other organizations and donors are urged to provide assistance to attain the objectives of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries at national, sub-regional and regional levels (para. 25)

Two components of the inter-regional programme for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible started operation with funds provided by Norway. The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has agreed to fund in support of the normative activities of the Fisheries Department a regional Project for the Promotion of Sustainable Livelihoods of Poor Coastal and Riparian Communities in 24 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, through application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Regional workshops for the adaptation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries were organized. One was held for 22 countries in West Africa under the auspices of the FAO Regional Programme for Integrated Development of Artisanal Fisheries in West Africa (IDAF) funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark. The other was held for 10 countries in the South Pacific on enhanced approaches for investment and privatization in the fisheries sector, in line with the spirit and intent of the Code. Representatives of Governments, private sector and NGOs attended these workshops. In addition the Government of Italy is funding a regional activity for the adaptation and implementation of article 9 of the Code (Aquaculture Development) under the aegis of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). Agenda item 5 (COFI/99/3)

6. A progress report on the implementation of the Code should be presented every two years (para. 29)

First report on the implementation of the Code is presented under Agenda item 5 (COFI/99/3)

Strengthening of FAO Regional Fishery Bodies

7. FAO regional fishery bodies should be reviewed to determine what measures might be taken to facilitate the strengthening of each body (para. 31)

Eight of nine FAO bodies have undertaken the review. Report is presented under Agenda item 6 (COFI/99/4)

8. There should be close collaboration among FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies (para. 32)

A meeting of FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies or arrangements is scheduled in FAO Headquarters Rome, on 11 and 12 February 1999 (COFI/99/Inf.14)

Recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, Fifth Session

9. The Sixth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade should be held (para. 39)

The Sub-Committee met from 3 to 6 June 1998 at Bremen, Germany, and recommended that FAO initiate scientific revision of CITES listing criteria as they might apply to large scale commercially harvested fish species. It further recommended that a technical consultation be convened to investigate the feasibility and practicability of developing non-discriminatory, globally, applicable technical guidelines for the eco-labelling of products from marine capture fisheries. Agenda item 9 (COFI/99/6, COFI/99/6 Supplement 1, COFI/99/Inf.13 and Inf.16)

Review of Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries

10. FAO is urged to proceed with the implementation of the Programme of Fisheries Assistance to Small Island Developing States (para. 42)

FAO has taken initial steps to secure funding for the implementation of the Programme. Agenda item 8 (COFI/99/7)

11. FAO should give priority to sustainable development of environmentally sound aquaculture and artisanal fisheries in inland, continental and coastal waters (para. 50)

Several actions were taken to respond to this decision, including a technical consultation on policies for sustainable shrimp culture held in Bangkok, Thailand from 8 to 11 December 1997. Report published as Fisheries Report No. 572. See also COFI/99/Inf.18

A Symposium on Water for Sustainable Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture was organized by the European Inland Fishery Advisory Commission (EIFAC). In collaboration with SEAFDEC and CIDA, FAO organized an Expert Consultation on the Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia. In addition, under the lead of FAO, GESAMP is preparing guidelines for the integration of aquaculture into coastal management. The guidelines address, among other things, issues related to sustainable coastal aquaculture.

12. Extra-budgetary funds should be sought to undertake a consultation for the establishment of COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture (para. 54)

Efforts to obtain extra-budgetary funds for this activity have not been successful.



3. The Committee is invited to note/comment on the follow-up actions taken by the FAO Fisheries Department on those requests and recommendations that were directed to the Secretariat. In particular, the Committee is requested first to finalize and then approve the plans of action (guidelines) provided in document COFI/99/5 Part III. It may wish to recommend that these plans of action (guidelines) be endorsed by the FAO Council.

4. The Committee is further invited to review and provide, as appropriate, guidance to the Secretariat on the "suggested follow-up action on the recommendations of the Technical Consultation, in October 1998, on the Management of Fishing Capacity Shark Fisheries and Incidental Catch of Sea Birds in Longline Fisheries.", document COFI/99/5 Part IV, as well as the priority given to sustainable development of environmentally sound aquaculture and artisanal fisheries in inland, continental and coastal waters (COFI/99/5, Part I, COFI/99/8, COFI/99/Inf.18).