Regional Fishery Bodies (RFB) are the critical vehicles for promoting longterm sustainable fisheries where international cooperation is required in conservation and management. Significantly, since the 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.
While the role and priorities of RFB vary according to their mandates and other factors -- including the political will of the members -- here a trends in major issues as noted by RFB secretariats:
Management: including issues surrounding responsible fisheries management, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, bycatch concerns and IUU fishing. These were cited as important by the greatest number of RFB, consistent with the prominent issues found in recent international instruments which themselves respond to broader international concerns;
Science and research: mostly centred around practical issues, including producing scientific advice that meets decision-makers’ needs (such as integrating fisheries and environmental information), the need for continuing, accurate and comprehensive stock assessments, and assessments of associated species and ecosystems at national and regional levels;
Institutional: resulted in the largest number of issues identified by RFB, including those relating to finance and strengthened external cooperation as most prominent, followed by capacity building, information exchange and human resource development;
Development: the least cited category, but with wide-ranging issues, including acquaculture and artisanal fisheries development impacts, tuna industry developments and assisting member States with the change in balance between subsistence and commercial fisheries.
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
|It is widely acknowledged that RFBs as highly effective for concentrating efforts and moving forward to combat IUU fishing activities. The IPOA-IUU reflects the international recognition of the potential contribution of RFBs to this objective by identifying a toolbox of appropriate actions and measures for their consideration and use. However, the high incidence and increasing sophistication of IUU fishing continue to undermine the work of RFBs. The continuing widespread use of flags of non-compliance and ports of convenience exacerbates the scope and extent of IUU fishing. The criminal aspect of IUU fishing is also coming to the fore as organizations take measures against offending fishing vessels and their owners and RFB secretariats sometimes receive threats intended to make them withdraw measures that combat IUU fishing.