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Background
Since the first meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies (RFBs) or Arrangements took place in February 1999, seven others have been held in the margins of FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI). These meetings have provided valuable opportunities for all RFBs established both within and outside the framework of FAO to exchange information on current challenges and emerging issues experienced by RFBs.

During the 2005 meeting of RFBs, participants agreed to change the meeting title to "RFB Secretariats' Network". This new title emphasized both network support and ongoing engagement intersessionally between formal meetings. The first meeting of the Regional Fishery Body Secretariats' Network (RSN) was held in March 2007 as the fifth biennial meeting among RFBs.

Objective
The RSN was established to facilitate ongoing information exchange among RFB Secretariats. In part this is facilitated by the distribution of a quarterly newsletter which is published by FAO and based on contributions from the RFBs.

RSN and FAO
RSN meetings are autonomous initiatives. FAO provides the venue and secretariat services to the Network meetings. The Chair of the RSN works closely with the Secretary of the RSN provided by FAO, and is responsible for meeting logistics, oversight and functioning. The current chair is Mr. Andrew Wright, Secretary of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR). The FAO secretary post of the RSN is currently held by Dr. Gail Lugten, Fisheries Liaison Officer of the FIPI division of the FAO. There are two Vice-Chairperson posts which are currently held by Mr. Kaitira Katonda, the Director of Fisheries of the Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA) and Mr. Yugraj Yudava, the Secretary of the Bay of Bengal Program – Intergovernmental Organization (BOBP-IGO).

All inquiries should be made directly to the Chairperson, and/or the Secretary.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Participants in the Third Meeting of Regional Fishery Body Secretariats Network (The picture was provided by Dr Yugraj Yadava, Director, Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-governmental Organization)


RSN/RFB Meetings
Since the inaugural session in 1999, the biennial RSN meetings have facilitated discussion and information sharing among all bodies. These meetings address the outcomes of COFI and focus on issues of major importance to the RFBs, including the role of RFBs in global and regional fisheries processes. A major thrust with respect to strengthened cooperation among FAO and non-FAO RFBs and arrangements was provided by the 1998 High-Level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries, appointed by the Director-General of FAO to consider, inter alia, future challenges in fisheries governance. The panel addressed FAO's role in working to encourage more coherent management approaches among RFBs, and recommended that FAO should, inter alia, convene a special meeting of FAO and non-FAO bodies in order to:

  • identify and address common problems and constraints;
  • develop strategies and mechanisms to address constraints;
  • share experiences and lessons learned; and
  • improve the effectiveness of the RFBs.

In addition, the 1999 Progress Report on the Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97 (Review of FAO Statutory Bodies and the Strengthening of FAO Regional Fishery Bodies) noted that, despite a need for effective RFB cooperation, there was no formal working relationship between COFI and non-FAO RFBs. And while the report acknowledged significant improvements in the performance of RFBs over the last decade, it stated that many factors have hindered these bodies from being more effective. The Twenty-third COFI in 1999 commended FAO for conveying a meeting of FAO and Non-FAO RFBs and recommended that such meetings be held on regular basis.

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From RFB meetings to the Regional Fishery Body Secretariats Network (RSN)
 
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