CL 128/INF/11


Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Session

Rome, 20-25 June 2005

Outcome of the Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries (12 March 2005)

1. Representatives of 121 countries among which 45 Ministers attended the Ministerial Meeting.

2. The Meeting addressed two major issues:

      1. The tsunami and its impact on the coastal communities in the Indian Ocean and how to address the medium and long-term needs of these communities with a view to the recovery and reconstruction of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the countries concerned (Tsunami Rehabilitation Plan);
      2. Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) and the Promotion of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance as Key Components in the Sustainable Development of Fisheries.

3. In his opening statement, Mr Jacques Diouf, Director-General underlined the importance of the occasion, 6 years after the adoption of the Rome Declaration on Responsible Fisheries and 10 years after the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), to address these latest challenges. Noting the tragic impacts of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the coastal communities of Indian Ocean in December 2004, he outlined FAO’s tsunami recovery initiative and suggested action for medium and long term action. He reminded the Delegates of the importance of fisheries to reach the goals set in the Millennium Declaration, and the need to strengthen the political will to combat hunger. He recalled the importance of responsible fishing, as described in the CCRF, and the need to combat IUU fishing. He highlighted the close collaboration between FAO, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), and countries to promote the IUU Plan of Action and referred to COFI’s conclusions and recommendation on this issue. He most keenly encouraged Ministers to launch international negotiations on satellite monitoring of fishing vessels so that there can be effective implementation of the CCRF and more efficient action against IUU fishing.

4. The meeting stressed the need to rebuild fisheries and aquaculture in tsunami-affected countries in a responsible and people-centred manner that ensures the sector's future sustainability. The Rome Declaration on the tsunami, which was adopted unanimously, is attached as Appendix A

5. The Ministerial Meeting also discussed Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) and Monitoring, Control and Surveillance as an integral part of fisheries management and as a tool in combating this blight. Participants shared experiences of the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission in West Africa, the South Pacific Region and of developed countries.

6. The Ministerial Meeting reviewed new technologies applied in vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in fisheries management worldwide and urged increased application and use of these technologies.

7. At the end of a fruitful debate on the issue, the Ministerial Meeting adopted the Rome Declaration on IUU Fishing as attached as Appendix B.



Adopted by the
FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries
Rome, 12 March 2005

We, the Ministers and Ministers' representatives, meeting in Rome at the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries on 12 March 2005,

Appreciating the initiative taken by the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to organize the Meeting, thus providing an opportunity to address the issue of rehabilitation in relation to the Tsunami disaster,

Recalling that the massive earthquake and subsequent Tsunami waves that originated off the west coast of northern Sumatra has caused extensive loss of lives and damage to coastal communities throughout the southern Bay of Bengal and East Africa,

Acknowledging that the effects of the Tsunami have been particularly devastating for fishers and fish farmers, with heavy loss of lives and homes, damage to fisheries and aquaculture infrastructure and facilities estimated at over 500 million USD, the destruction or damage of more than 100,000 fishing vessels, and the loss of more than 1.5 million gear units,

Expressing deep concern that the scale of the damage to coastal areas and communities is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people, many of whom depend on fisheries and aquaculture for income and food,

Commending the swift and dedicated response of the peoples and governments in the affected areas, as well as the unprecedented level of assistance being offered for relief and rehabilitation from the international community, including national Governments, United Nations organizations, international financial institutions, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and recognizing the importance of coordination of these efforts for effective rehabilitation,

Recognizing the role of FAO in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the affected areas and commending the efforts led by FAO in the aftermath of the disaster in advising and supporting the Governments of the affected nations,

Expressing concern over the medium- and long-term social, economic and environmental impact of the disaster, as well as the risk of negative impacts from rehabilitation efforts if not appropriately designed and duly coordinated,

Committed to assist with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the damage inflicted by the Tsunami disaster and to duly account for the specific needs and requirements of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and related coastal communities, in accordance with the three pillars of sustainable development recognized by the World Summit on Sustainable Development: environmental, social, and economic.

We declare that:

1.     We are determined to ensure that the efforts, led by the international community to provide assistance to rehabilitate the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the nations affected by the December 2004 earthquake and Tsunami, develop in synergy so that, through coordinated action, we provide an effective response to the needs of the affected fishing communities, in particular their poorest members.

2.     We therefore encourage the international community, including donor countries, international financial institutions and relevant international organizations, as well as the private sector and civil society organizations, to deliver such assistance in a coordinated manner under the leadership of the countries affected.

3.     We call upon donor nations and international financial institutions to fulfill the pledges that they have made in this regard so that relief and rehabilitation efforts can be sustained.

4.     We emphasize the need for fisheries and aquaculture rehabilitation to focus on rebuilding the livelihoods of fishers and fish farmers, providing adequate protection from this and other environmental threats, and improving sectoral efficiency, sustainability and governance.

5.     We recognize that environmental degradation of critical habitats caused by the Tsunami in affected coastal areas, such as coral reefs and mangroves, may continue to affect the productivity of inshore fishing grounds and the potential for aquaculture rehabilitation for some time.

6.     We emphasize the need to protect the rights of fishers and fishworkers, particularly those involved in subsistence and small-scale and artisanal fisheries, to a secure and just livelihood, as well as preferential access, where appropriate, to fishing grounds and resources of affected areas.

7.     We also emphasize the need for fisheries and aquaculture rehabilitation to be in line with the principles of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Rehabilitation efforts , including transfers of vessels, must proceed under the leadership and control of the affected nations and must ensure that the fishing capacity that is being rebuilt is commensurate with the productive capacity of the fisheries resources and their sustainable utilization. We recognize the benefits associated with re-establishment, within affected nations, of the capacity that is required to rebuild infrastructure, including vessel building, fish processing and fishing port facilities.

8.     We support the provision of greater assistance toward a coordinated assessment of fisheries resources in the affected region so that relief and rehabilitation efforts can proceed in a sustainable way, recognizing that the assessment must not delay the progress of relief and rehabilitation efforts.

9.     We emphasize the need to rebuild and strengthen the capacity of the affected fisheries sectors, including in the areas of fishing abilities, data collection, scientific analysis, assessments of fisheries resources and effective fisheries management, as well as to enhance the capacity of relevant communities and stakeholders to engage in this process, to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

10.     We welcome the steps taken by FAO, jointly with development and research partners from the region, for the development of a strategic framework and the creation of collaborative arrangements for fisheries and aquaculture rehabilitation and the restoration of marine habitat.

11.     We support the need for FAO to play a leading role in advising and supporting the international community in matters relevant to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture rehabilitation and the restoration of marine habitat.



Adopted by the
FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries
Rome, 12 March 2005

We, the Ministers and Ministers' representatives, meeting in Rome at the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries on 12 March 2005,

Bearing in mind the principles and rules of international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,

Noting with satisfaction the entry into force on 11 December 2001 of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and the entry into force on 24 April 2003 of the FAO Compliance Agreement,

Recalling the relevant provisions of other international instruments, such as the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21; the 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals; and the 2002 Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation,

Reaffirming our commitment to the principles and standards contained in the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries,

Recalling the adoption on 11 March 1999 of the Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries at the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries, as well as the endorsement of the 2001 FAO International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU),

Recalling as well the resolution on IUU fishing adopted by the FAO Conference in 2003,

Desiring to move from words to action through full implementation of various international instruments for sustainable fisheries adopted or enacted in the past decades,

Noting the harmful and worldwide consequences of IUU fishing on the sustainability of fisheries (ranging from large-scale high seas fisheries to small-scale artisanal fisheries), on the conservation of marine living resources and marine biodiversity as a whole and on the economies of developing countries and their efforts to develop sustainable fisheries management,

Recognizing that there is often a relationship between fleet overcapacity and IUU fishing and acknowledging the economic incentives that drive these phenomena,

Acknowledging the genuine development aspirations and legitimate efforts of developing countries, in particular small island developing States, toward the sustainable management and development of their fisheries sectors,

Emphasizing the responsibility of flag States under international law to effectively control and manage vessels flying their flags, as well as the responsibilities of port and coastal States in controlling IUU fishing,

Aware that effective fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) is essential to combat IUU fishing and that integrated MCS, including satellite monitoring systems (VMS), as well as a comprehensive global record of fishing vessels within FAO, are key tools in this endeavour,

Recognizing the need to strengthen international cooperation for the development of VMS so as to implement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing and protect and assist fishermen in danger and the assistance that FAO may provide in harmonizing VMS to members who request it,

Recognizing the special requirements of developing countries in combating IUU fishing and, in particular, the need to strengthen their capacity for fisheries management, and

Reaffirming the commitment to enhance responsible and effective fisheries management, to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing and to strengthen, improve, and where appropriate establish, MCS programmes including VMS,

We declare that:

We are committed to concentrating and intensifying our efforts to implement fully all the international instruments for the sustainable use of marine living resources.

We reaffirm the need for FAO to play a leading role in supporting the efforts of States to implement these instruments, with particular emphasis placed on assisting developing countries.

We will renew our efforts:

to develop and implement national and regional plans of action to combat IUU fishing,

to adopt, review and revise, as appropriate, relevant national legislation and regulations, in particular to ensure compliance with fisheries management measures and to provide sanctions of sufficient gravity as to deprive offenders of the benefits accruing from their illegal activities and to deter further IUU fishing,

to ensure effective implementation of catch certification schemes through their harmonization and improvement as necessary,

to adopt internationally agreed market-related measures in accordance with international law, including principles, rights, and obligations established in WTO agreements, as called for in the IPOA-IUU,

to ensure that all fisheries policy-makers and managers consider the full range of available MCS options, strategies and tools; take necessary actions to fully implement the IPOAs and any applicable MCS measures adopted by relevant regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs); and that fishers have an understanding of their role in MCS,

to ensure that States, to the greatest extent possible, take measures or cooperate to ensure that nationals subject to their jurisdiction do not support or engage in IUU fishing, and

to ensure that all large-scale fishing vessels operating on the high seas be required by their flag State to be fitted with VMS no later than December 2008, or earlier if so decided by their flag State or any relevant RFMO.

We call for the following new actions:

to identify, reduce and ultimately eliminate the economic incentives that lead to IUU fishing and the economic drivers that lead to fleet overcapacity, at the national, regional and global levels,

to ensure that measures to address IUU fishing or fleet overcapacity in one fishery or area do not result in the creation of fleet overcapacity in another fishery or area or otherwise undermine the sustainability of fish stocks in another fishery or area, and that such measures do not prejudice the legitimate expansion of fleets in developing countries in a sustainable manner,

to develop a comprehensive global record of fishing vessels within FAO, including refrigerated transport vessels and supply vessels, that incorporates available information on beneficial ownership, subject to confidentiality requirements in accordance with national law,

to work within RFMOs to facilitate, where appropriate, the exchange of VMS and observer data, subject to confidentiality requirements in accordance with national law, and

to supplement existing MCS schemes through measures such as encouraging the fishing fleet to report any suspected IUU fishing activities they observe.

5. We agree upon the need:

for flag States, port States, coastal States and, where appropriate, RFMOs to effectively regulate transhipment in order to combat IUU fishing activities and to prevent laundering of illegal catches,

for States, as well as NGOs and members of the fishing industry, to exchange information on suspected IUU fishing, if possible on a real-time basis, in collaboration with FAO, RFMOs and other relevant arrangements, and by actively participating in the International MCS Network,

to develop and ensure effective implementation of national and, where appropriate, internationally agreed boarding and inspection regimes consistent with international law,

to strengthen coastal and port State measures for fishing vessels, consistent with international law, in order to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing,

for further international action to eliminate IUU fishing by vessels flying “flags of convenience” as well as to require that a “genuine link” be established between States and fishing vessels flying their flags,

to strengthen RFMOs to ensure that they are more effective in preventing, deterring and eliminating IUU fishing, and

to fully implement vessel marking requirements in accordance with the FAO Standard Specification and Guidelines for the Marking and Identification of Fishing Vessels and any applicable RFMO requirements.

6. We urge all States:

that have not yet done so to become parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, and abide by their provisions,

to ensure that they exercise full and effective control over fishing vessels flying their flag, in accordance with international law, to combat IUU fishing,

that are parties to the FAO Compliance Agreement to fulfil their obligations to submit to FAO, for inclusion in the High Seas Vessel Authorization Record, data on vessels entitled to fly their flags that are authorized to be used for fishing on the high seas, and those that are not yet parties to the FAO Compliance Agreement to submit such data on a voluntary basis, and

to supply detailed information on fishing vessels flying their flag to relevant RFMOs, in accordance with the requirements adopted by those RFMOs, and to establish such requirements within RFMOs where they do not yet exist.

7. We further urge additional research, as well as enhanced international cooperation including appropriate transfer of technology, in remote sensing and satellite surveillance of fishing vessels to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing, particularly in remote areas with lack of deployment of MCS facilities.

8. We also urge:

the provision of additional assistance to developing countries to help them implement their commitments in preventing, deterring and eliminating IUU fishing, as well as to participate effectively in the development and implementation of fishery conservation and management measures by RFMOs, and

the provision of advice and training to promote the development of fisheries management regimes, at the national and local levels, to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing, including community-based fisheries management in countries where such fisheries management is practiced, recognizing, where appropriate, the role of local coastal communities in the management of near-shore resources, particularly in developing countries.

9. We resolve to provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries in the implementation of MCS capabilities, including VMS, with the support of FAO and relevant international financial institutions and mechanisms, and to consider the establishment of a special voluntary fund for this purpose.

WE REQUEST that the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations convey this Declaration to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for consideration by that organization.