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 (RFB) for promoting longterm sustainable fisheries where international cooperation is required in conservation and management, FAO has committed:
- to provide its technical and administrative support to its own RFB with a view to strengthening their effectiveness
- to promote collaboration and consultation among all RFB or arrangements on matters of common concern
This also consists of:
- facilitating meetings of RFB
- implementation by RFB of sustainable policies and practices and the effective implementation of the post-UNCED instruments (including cooperation between RFB 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 RFB - in terms of institutional relationship with FAO:
- Established under FAO's constitution – There are two types of RFB 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 (such as APFIC, GFCM, IOTC and RECOFI) are more autonomous than the Article VI bodies (such as CECAF, CIFFA, WECAFC, COPESCAL).
- 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 RFB due to their importance in global and regional fisheries governance. FAO normally sends its staff to annual meetings of those organizations (such as NAFO, NEAFC, WCPFC, IATTC and CCAMLR).
FAO and RFB participation
FAO is also involved in the process of establishing new RFB such as SIOFA, SPRFMO and FCWC.
FAO also expects active participation of RFB in its decision-making process and any technical forums such as COFI and relevant technical consultations. In fact, RFB 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 RFB 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.
The number of RFBs participating in COFI increases steadily.