Twenty-fourth Session

Rome, Italy, 26 February - 2 March, 2001


Table of Contents


This document provides information on the possible establishment of a Sub-Committee on Aquaculture of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI). The proposed Sub-Committee would serve as an inter-governmental mechanism for information exchange, discussion and consensus-building on emerging issues in aquaculture, among various parties interested in the sector. The Sub-Committee would also assist COFI and FAO to fulfil their responsibilities through the provision of advice and guidance on technical and policy matters related to aquaculture. The document highlights the raison d'étre for such a Sub-Committee and defines its membership, possible terms of reference and major areas of activities, procedural and organizational matters involved in its establishment, as well as the administrative and financial implications for FAO and participating Members.

The Committee is invited to take a decision on the establishment of the Sub-Committee.


1. At the Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), in March 1997, a number of delegations supported a proposal to establish a Sub-Committee on Aquaculture1. At its Twenty-third Session, in February 1999, the Committee recognized that sustainable aquaculture could have high potential in securing food availability and poverty alleviation in developing countries. There was broad support for the proposal to establish a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture2.
2. Accordingly, the Director-General convened an Expert Consultation to explore further the possibility of establishing a Sub-Committee. The Expert Consultation on the Proposed Sub-Committee on Aquaculture of the Committee on Fisheries was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 28 and 29 February 2000, after the Conference on Aquaculture Development in the Third Millenium, held from 20 to 25 February 20003. This Conference, organized by the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and Pacific Region (NACA) and FAO, and hosted by the Government of Thailand, adopted the document "Aquaculture Development Beyond 2000: The Bangkok Declaration and Strategy". Both the Report of the Expert Consultation and the Bangkok Declaration are available to the Committee at this Session as document COFI/2001/Inf.8.


3. The Expert Consultation stressed that a number of considerations justified the establishment of a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture. These considerations included, in particular, (i) the growing contribution of aquaculture, one of the fastest growing food production sectors, to global food security and economic development; (ii) the diversity of international trends affecting the sector which require greater international cooperation and normative work; (iii) the increasing need to address aquaculture issues in a global forum, and (iv) the fact that a sub-committee dealing with specific aquaculture issues would be an invaluable institutional tool in assisting COFI to fulfil its mandate.
4. The Expert Consultation emphasized, in particular, that there were a number of issues of particular relevance to aquaculture development that must be addressed and monitored continually and on a global scale by an inter-governmental body4. In this regard, it was noted that there was no inter-governmental global forum having sustainable aquaculture as its primary focus, nor was there any apparent potential for the establishment of such a forum elsewhere.
5. The Expert Consultation recalled, in this connection, the statement in "The Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries adopted by the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries (Rome, 10-11 March 1999)," which emphasized that: "FAO is the most appropriate forum for addressing vital global fisheries issues" and agreed that, a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture would significantly assist COFI and FAO to fulfil their responsibilities. The Expert Consultation also acknowledged that the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture would contribute to the achievement of various goals as set out in the Strategic Framework for FAO, 2000-2015.
6. The Expert Consultation considered the proposal to establish a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, in the light of the criteria laid down by FAO Conference Resolution 13/97 entitled "Review of FAO Statutory Bodies", in its operative paragraph 8. These criteria, which should be taken into account when establishing new FAO technical and subsidiary bodies, are as follows:
" ... (a) Centrality to the FAO mandate and the Organization's current priorities as expressed by FAO Members and reflected in planning documents;

(b) Clarity of the definition of the task, which should normally be of limited duration;

(c) Positive impact of the Body's work at the level of FAO Members;

(d) FAO's comparative advantage, thereby avoiding overlap and creating synergy with the work of other Bodies;

(e) Proportion of the FAO membership to which the work of the proposed body is of importance with due regard to the economic capacity of less-advantaged Members, including least developed countries and small-island developing States;

(f) Willingness of their Members to contribute financially and through non-monetary inputs to the work of the Body, especially where the Body will serve a more limited number of countries, with due regard to the economic capacity of their less advantaged Members and the availability of other financial support; ..."

7. The Expert Consultation concluded that the proposal to establish a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture met all of the above criteria.

8. The Expert Consultation suggested that the Sub-Committee should review its usefulness at eight year intervals (i.e. at its fourth and eighth sessions, assuming the proposed Sub-Committee held one session every biennium)5 6.


9. The Terms of Reference of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, based on the recommendations of the Expert Consultation, would be as follows:
"The Sub-Committee shall provide a forum for consultation and discussion on aquaculture and advise COFI on technical and policy matters related to aquaculture and on the work to be performed by the Organization in the subject matter field of aquaculture. In particular the Sub-Committee shall:

(a) identify and discuss major issues and trends in global aquaculture development;
(b) determine those issues and trends of international importance requiring action to increase the sustainable contribution of aquaculture to food security, economic development and poverty alleviation;
(c) recommend international action to address aquaculture development needs and, in this regard:
(i) to advise on mechanisms to prepare, facilitate and implement action programmes identified, as well as on the expected contribution of partners;
(ii) to advise on the liaison with other relevant groups and organizations with a view to promoting harmonization and endorsing policies and actions, as appropriate;
(iii) to advise on the strengthening of international collaboration to assist developing countries in the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
(d) advise on the preparation of technical reviews and of issues and trends of international significance;
(e) address any specific matters relating to aquaculture referred to it by its Members, the Committee on Fisheries or the Director-General of FAO".
10. The Rules of Procedure of the Committee on Fisheries would apply mutatis mutandis to the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture.


11. In line with the provisions of Rule VII.2 of the Rules of Procedure of the Committee on Fisheries, membership of the Sub-Committee would be open to all Member Nations and Associate Members of the Organization. In order to be considered as a Member, Member Nations or Associate Members of FAO should communicate to the Director-General a formal expression of intention. Interested non-member States of the Organization that are members of the United Nations, of any of its Specialized agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency, could be admitted by the Council of FAO to membership in the Sub-Committee.
12. Attendance by non-member States of the Organization at sessions would be governed by the principles relating to the granting of observer status to nations adopted by the FAO Conference.
13. The Expert Consultation emphasized that there might be significant benefits associated with the participation in the proposed Sub-Committee of international governmental as well as international non-governmental organizations representing the views of the private sector, interests of social and environmental organizations and other stakeholders in accordance with established procedures7.


14. The establishment of a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture has administrative and financial implications for the FAO Secretariat and for the Governments participating in the work of the Sub-Committee.
15. For FAO, the convening and servicing of sessions, as well as the preparation, processing and distribution of documentation and follow-up work would involve additional staff time, travel costs and possible contractual services. Depending on the items covered in the Agenda, it is estimated that approximately six person/months per year of Professional staff time and an equal amount of General Service staff time would be required and should be reflected in the Programme of Work and Budget. A portion of this work is already undertaken by FAO staff as part of Regular Programme activities and therefore the net additional cost is unlikely to exceed US$ 90 000.
16. Direct costs for a four-day meeting session could at present be estimated as follows. Four days of interpretation (seven sittings) with five languages cost US$ 53 000. Translation costs are approximately US$ 500 per 1 000 words. COFI usually aims at producing four major documents of a total of 25 000 words, i.e. a cost of US$ 50 000. Costs of meeting facilities and staff time are omitted, as they will change significantly depending on venue.
17. In total, the establishment of proposed sub-committee meeting once every two years is likely to cost in the region of US$ 150 000 to US$ 200 000 per biennium. In the absence of additional Regular Programme resources, it will be difficult to fund this amount from within the existing budget for Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries where the demand for FAO's contribution to the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries well exceeds the capacity of the Department to respond. On the other hand, the Director-General does not feel able to propose a transfer of resources from any other sector given the pressing needs of Members in support to the implementation of other aspects of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.
18. For participating Governments, the financial implications will consist mainly of providing information and in contributing to the proceedings and, possibly, in implementing agreed measures and action programmes. The main direct costs for member countries of FAO bodies arise from the participation in sessions, or, if they provide host facilities, for meetings. In addition, such Governments may also wish to consider providing financial support to enable the participation of developing countries with limited economic capacity in the deliberations of the Committee as suggested in Conference Resolution 13/97, paragraph 8 (f) quoted above.
19. The Committee is informed that its Sub-Committee on Fish Trade has held its last three sessions in Bremen, Germany, at the invitation of the Senate of the Hanseatic City and in conjunction with an international fish exhibition. In this case, the Government of Germany reached an agreement with FAO for the hosting of the sessions of the Sub-Committee and the coverage of a number of related costs. A similar funding mechanism could be useful for sessions of the proposed Sub-Committee on Aquaculture in the absence of additional funding under the Regular Programme.


20. The Committee is invited to review the present proposal and take such action and provide such guidance as it deems appropriate.


Report of the Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries, Rome, Italy, 17-20 March 1997. FAO Fisheries Report. No. 562. Rome, FAO. 1997. 32p. para. 54.

2 Report of the Twenty-third Session of the Committee on Fisheries, Rome, Italy, 15-19 February 1999. FAO Fisheries Report. No 595. Rome, FAO. 1999. 70p. para. 79.


This arrangement was cost-effective and also ensured broad participation.


As an example the Expert Consultation identified six key areas that the proposed sub-committee might address as follows: (i) the role of aquaculture in food security, economic development and poverty alleviation; (ii) consumer issues (food safety, quality and certification); (iii) human resources development (training and education) research and extension; (iv) environmental aspects of aquaculture development; (v) institutional capacity building and policy development, and (vi) statistics, data and information management.


Paragraph 7 of FAO Conference Resolution 13/97 provides that new bodies that might be established in future should be submitted to periodic review of their usefulness.


The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and its Sub-Committee on Fish Trade meet once every biennium.


National non-governmental organizations would participate in meetings of the Sub-Committee within delegations of Members, subject to the concurrence of the concerned Governments; while international non-governmental organizations would participate in accordance with the principles adopted by the FAO Conference and Council.


Rule VII.2 of the Rules of Procedure of COFI provides that before taking any decision involving expenditure in connection with the establishment of subsidiary bodies, the Committee shall have before it a report from the Director-General on the administrative and financial implications thereof