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Regional Fishery Bodies (RFB) are the critical vehicles for promoting long-term sustainable fisheries where international cooperation is required in conservation and management. Significantly, since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED or "Earth Summit"), legal instruments assign RFB a key role in the facilitation of international cooperation.

Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) especially play a unique role in facilitating international cooperation for the conservation and management of fish stocks. These organizations present the only realistic means of governing fish stocks that occur either as straddling or shared stocks between zones of national jurisdiction or between these zones and the high seas, or exclusively on the high seas.

Key subjects and issues of importance to RFBs include management of fisheries, the application of the ecosystem approach, the minimization of bycatch and IUU fishing, science and research, institutional/organization matters, application of the precautionary approach, and transparency in decision-making processes.

Evolving role of RFB
RFB are playing a greater part in decision-making for international instruments for conservation and management.
Key areas include:

  • precautionary approach
  • agreement on decision-making procedures that facilitate the adoption of conservation and management measures in a timely and effective manner
  • transparency in the decision-making process
  • decision-making procedures for dispute prevention
  • strengthening decision-making to implement relevant policies
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