FAO has a global mandate to promote and, when appropriate, to recommend national and international action pertaining, inter alia, to fisheries research, conservation and management, and development.
Recognizing the critical role of Regional Fishery Bodies (RFBs) for promoting long-term sustainable fisheries where international cooperation is required in conservation and management, FAO has committed:
- to provide its technical and administrative support to its own RFBs with a view to strengthening their effectiveness
- to promote collaboration and consultation among all RFBs or arrangements on matters of common concern
This also consists of:
- facilitating meetings of RFBs
- implementation by RFBs of sustainable policies and practices and the effective implementation of the post-UNCED instruments (including cooperation between RFBs and FAO programmes) issues relating to reporting on status and trends of fisheries
- reporting to, and liaising with, the United Nations and other international and regional organizations regarding collecting and disseminating information
Three categories of RFBs - in terms of institutional relationship with FAO:
- Established under FAO's Constitution – There are two types of RFBs in this category, those established based on Article VI of the FAO Constitution and those established based on Article XIV. The differences are mainly in terms of finance, mandate and autonomy whereby Article XIV bodies (APFIC, GFCM, IOTC, RECOFI and CACFish) are more autonomous than the Article VI bodies (CECAF, CIFAA, COPESCAALC, EIFAAC, SWIOFC, and WECAFC ).
- Established outside the FAO framework but with FAO depository functions – This means that the Director-General of FAO exercises depositary functions for organizations such as ICCAT, NACA, COMHAFAT, LVFO, SEAFO and SIOFA.
- Established outside FAO's framework – FAO closely monitors these RFBs due to their importance in global and regional fisheries governance. Such bodies include CCAMLR, CCSBT, NAFO, NEAFC, WCPFC and IATTC.
FAO and RFBs participation
FAO is also involved in the process of establishing new RFBs such as SIOFA, SPRFMO and FCWC.
FAO also expects active participation of RFBs in its decision-making process and any technical forums such as COFI and relevant technical consultations. In fact, RFBs involvement at COFI has grown significantly since 1995 with the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and further accelerated by initiation of the RFBs meetings in 1999 (now renamed the Regional Fishery Body Secretariats Network).
Such continued collaboration is crucial in order to accomplish the goal of responsible and sustainable fisheries.