3 March 2003, Rome -- The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) goes on unabated.

A number of delegations participating in the meeting of FAO's Committee on Fisheries (COFI), which ended today, urged stronger action against IUU fishing. IUU has been undermining national and international efforts aimed at managing fisheries in a responsible way.

The Japanese delegation proposed that FAO should hold an intergovernmental meeting to step up the implementation of two international plans of action concluded in recent years within the framework of the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

These are the international plans of action for the management of fishing capacity (IPOA-Capacity) and the international plan of action to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IPOA-IUU).

The first deals with the management of fleet capacity and was adopted in March and June 1999 by COFI and FAO Council respectively. The second calls for action by States and regional fisheries management organizations to combat IUU fishing; it was adopted by consensus at the 24th session of COFI in March 2001 and by FAO Council in June 2001. Both plans are voluntary instruments aimed at protecting marine resources against overfishing.

The Japanese delegation stressed that those two plans are among the most important elements in implementing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. "Their effective and full implementation is urgently required to restore and maintain the sustainability of the world fisheries resources," the Japanese delegation said.

Japan announced its financial support for an intergovernmental meeting to be held in early 2004 in Rome. The agenda, according to the Japanese delegation, would include a review of current progress regarding the implementation of the plans "which have not been successfully implemented so far, although certain progress was observed in some areas."

IUU fishing and its impact on resource sustainability is a matter of high international concern. The Australian delegation at COFI voiced concern over the difficulties associated with combating IUU fishing, and the need to strengthen the regional fisheries management organizations.

Australia believes that there are three priority issues in world fisheries today. Overcapacity, combating IUU fishing, and making members of the regional fisheries management organizations accept their full responsibilities so that they can take strong and decisive actions to sustainably manage world fisheries.

Pierre Antonios
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53473