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V. Major trends and policies in food and agriculture

A. World Food and Agriculture Situation
B. Prevention of Food Losses
C. Progress in International Agricultural Adjustment
D. Developments in the regime of the sea and their implications for fisheries

A. World Food and Agriculture Situation

30. The Conference endorsed the broad lines of the assessment of the world food and agricultural situation presented by the Director-General. It considered that, although there had been some improvements in the two years since its Eighteenth Session, the situation remained fragile and there were no grounds for complacency. Despite a 60 percent increase in cereal stocks since 1973/74, insufficient progress had been made towards overcoming the many long standing problems of world food security that had preoccupied the World Food Conference.

31. Following two years of generally good harvests in 1975 and 1976, there had been much smaller increases in food production in 1977. According to FAO's preliminary estimates, the increase in 1977 would be less than population growth, both in the world as a whole and particularly in the developing countries. World cereal production was expected to have declined slightly from the record level of 1976, although remaining close to the long-term upward trend. A number of countries, especially in the Sahelian zone of Africa, were again facing large food deficits. The Conference recommended the strengthening of aid programmes for such countries.

32. The longer-term trends in food production remained unsatisfactory in the developing countries. Although in the three years 1974-76 the developing market economies had achieved the target of a 4 percent average annual increase called for in the International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade and reaffirmed by the World Food Conference, in the longer period since the beginning of the 1970s the rate of increase was considerably below this target, and was less than that achieved in the previous decade. The Conference therefore reiterated the importance of achieving a sustained acceleration of the increase in production in the developing countries.

33. It noted with concern that progress in production had been slowest in Africa, and in general in the poorest developing regions and countries where it was most needed. Thus the gap had continued to widen not only between the developed and developing countries, but also between the better and worse-off developing countries. Rice production, on which much of the population of the developing world depended for its staple food, had expanded less rapidly than wheat production in most of the developing countries. The production of pulses, an important source of protein in many developing countries, had tended to stagnate. This required study by FAO, including suggestions for increasing production. The Conference also recommended that FAO should continue to pay particular attention to the situation and problems in the most seriously affected (MSA) countries, the least developed countries, and the land-locked countries. FAO should also study the factors responsible for some countries achieving a production performance above the average and some below.

34. The Conference recognized that the recent increases in production in the developing countries were due in part to favourable weather, as well as being in response to increased attention to agriculture in the government programmes on which many delegations provided information. The recurrence of widespread unfavourable weather could quickly reverse the present improved situation. In order to mitigate the effects of wide fluctuations in the weather, it was necessary to improve soil and water conservation and management, to expand irrigation facilities, to increase the use of drought-resistant varieties of crops, and to widen the feed base of livestock production. It was also necessary, in close cooperation with WMO, to improve long-range weather forecasting, where a problem in some countries was the limited cooperation between agricultural and meteorological services. It was felt that ways and means of mitigating the consequences of crop failures or shortfalls in livestock production required further examination. In this respect, it was recommended that FAO should investigate the feasibility of setting up an international fund to cover natural risks, with the cooperation of international insurance companies and banking, as well as development banks.

35. The Conference considered that the present world food and agricultural situation would be much less favourable but for the substantial replenishment of stocks. Despite the deterioration in the crop prospects for 1977, the FAO forecasts indicated that by the end of the current 1977/78 crop seasons total cereal stocks (outside China and the USSR, for which there was no information) would rise to about 18 percent of annual consumption. The improvement in the stock position provided the opportunity for the establishment of the internationally coordinated system of nationally held stocks envisaged in the International Undertaking on World Food Security. The Conference was concerned at the slow progress that had been made towards the establishment of such a system, and recommended that all countries should subscribe to the objectives and principles of the International Undertaking, and that it should be implemented speedily. The level of the reserve stock to be internationally coordinated should be adequate to serve the objectives of world food security. Many developing countries required financial and technical assistance for the establishment of adequate national stocks, while in many of them, especially in Africa, the rebuilding of the stocks held in rural areas was a particular problem.

36. The Conference noted that the high level of stocks and the fall in world prices had caused the farmers or the governments of some major exporting countries to reduce their cereal acreage. While supporting the need for incentives and for an adequate return for the farmers' investment and labour, several delegations considered that such reductions in production could have adverse consequences in the absence of a properly functioning system of world food security. The Conference urged all governments contemplating such action to give the fullest consideration to the possible negative effects on the overall world food situation.

37. The Conference noted with concern that little or no progress had been made towards the basic goal of the eradication of hunger and malnutrition. Improvements in per caput food production had had very little effect on the nutritional situation of large numbers of poor people. The high level of stocks in part reflected the inability of both countries and individuals to purchase adequate supplies of food. While the forthcoming World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development would discuss possible problems in social structures, particularly in rural areas, measures for a better distribution of income, and different policies and measures geared to increasing production and productivity in rural areas, so as to help developing countries in raising the purchasing power and improving the overall economic and social conditions of the small farmers and other rural populations with low incomes, it was also necessary to give attention to the problems of the large numbers of undernourished people in urban areas. Although increases in consumer food prices had slackened in many countries, high food prices remained a source of severe hardship for poor people everywhere. The Conference stressed the need for better data on the food and nutritional situation. It noted that much new information would shortly be available in FAO's Fourth World Food Survey, and recommended that the Director-General should keep this as up-to-date as possible.

38. Supplies of fertilizers and pesticides were now more adequate, but their prices remained high, and fertilizer prices had begun to rise again as a result of increased demand. Even if governments could find sufficient foreign exchange to purchase these and other essential inputs, they remained out of reach of small farmers, whose terms of trade had deteriorated. Adequate supplies of pesticides were particularly important to combat the food losses that reduced the already low level of production. The development of the greater use of farm inputs and of capacity for their production in developing countries should be vigorously pursued. The Conference recommended that FAO should continue to study the high and unstable prices of inputs in relation to the prices received by farmers, and urged that inputs be supplied at reasonable prices to consuming countries. It agreed that the FAO International Fertilizer Supply Scheme should be continued, and a number of delegations felt that the activities of the scheme should be extended.

39. The Conference emphasized that agricultural and rural development depended above all on the efforts of the developing countries themselves to achieve greater self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and on their political will to mobilize all the necessary resources. At the same time, however, it stressed the importance of the international cooperation that was made essential by world-wide interdependence and the efforts to bring into being a New International Economic Order. The efforts of the developing countries could be vitiated in the absence of a favourable external environment in respect of international trade and the flow of development assistance. The Conference also emphasized the importance of cooperation among the developing countries themselves, and the need to take measures for its further expansion.

40. The Conference stressed the importance of commodity and trade problems. A number of delegations considered that they merited a separate item on the Agenda of the Conference. The developing countries needed the stimulus of the external demand of the markets in developed countries and greater access to them, and it was suggested that improved conditions of international trade were even more important to some of them than an improved flow of external assistance. Although there had been an increase in the agricultural export earnings of the developing countries in 1976, there were no gains in terms of real purchasing power, and despite a small rise in their share of the total, their earnings remained inadequate in relation to their foreign exchange needs for development purposes. A number of developing countries considered that access to developed country markets, especially for processed products, had not improved, and in fact had deteriorated. Moreover, the competition of synthetic products continued to pose grave problems, calling, inter alia, for international assistance for research and development in natural products. Several developing countries considered that the development of livestock production in developing countries was discouraged by the effects of surplus production in developed countries, and the restrictive measures adopted by them. While agreeing that further improvements were necessary in the conditions of international trade in agricultural products, certain developed countries considered that progress had been made in recent years, including the introduction and expansion of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences, the Loom Convention, the Stabex scheme of the European Economic Community, and the negotiations or. tropical products in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations under the auspices of GATT. The Conference hoped that further improvements in the conditions of agricultural trade would be achieved, particularly taking into account the interests of developing countries. In connexion with the easy flow of trade, transit facilities should be provided to the land-locked countries.

41. While the terms of trade for agricultural products as a whole had shown limited gains, these were confined to a few commodities, and the situation of the developing countries producing a number of major commodities was particularly difficult. The prices of most commodities of major significance in international trade had been very unstable. The Conference recommended that FAO should continue to monitor the agricultural terms of trade, paying particular attention to the individual commodities of particular interest to developing countries, and to food products in relation to fertilizers and other inputs.

42. The Conference urged that, following the conclusion of a new International Sugar Agreement, further concrete results be achieved in the UNCTAD negotiations on an Integrated Programme for Commodities, and in the GATT Multilateral Trade Negotiations. It attached particular importance to the speedy conclusion of a new International Grains Arrangement before the expiry of the current extension of the International Wheat Agreement. Negotiations for the agreement should cover provisions not only for more stable prices, but also for reserve stocks. A new Food Aid Convention should be negotiated in connexion with a new International Grains Arrangement. Although 1977/78 commitments of food aid showed an increase over the previous year, they had still not reached the minimum target of 10 million tons of cereals. Some delegations considered that this target should be raised, in view of the pressing needs of the MSA and other countries. The Conference welcomed the increased pledges to the International Emergency Reserve, and endorsed the recommendation of the World Food Council that this should be fully established before the end of 1977.

43. Commitments of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for agriculture had shown an encouragingly large rise in 1974 and a smaller one in 1975. In 1976, however, these commitments had declined, both in absolute terms and as a share of total ODA. The conditions of such aid had become harder, and the debt position of the developing countries had deteriorated still further. The Conference expressed concern that, despite the welcome establishment of IFAD, a wide gap was likely to remain between the flow of development assistance and the requirements for the necessary acceleration of the increase in agricultural production. It recommended that donor countries should substantially increase development assistance for agriculture, should improve its terms, and should channel more of it to the MSA countries and to countries with promising potential for agricultural development. It was suggested that developing countries should, where necessary, re-examine their investment patterns, in order to give more emphasis to investments in human skills and resources, the training of local populations, and the use of labour for capital formation. The Conference stressed the importance of investment in transport and communications and other infrastructure in many countries, especially in Africa. The more effective transfer of appropriate technology, both between developed and developing countries and among the developing countries themselves, was also important. Research should give higher priority to the problems of developing countries.

44. Several delegations considered that improvements should be made in the future arrangements for the Conference's consideration of the world food and agricultural situation. It was suggested that the debate be organized in such a way that, following a shortened general discussion of this item, the Conference should take up a number of more specific topics. Suggestions for such topics included systems of fertilizer and seed supplies for farmers; climatic variations; the influence of producer prices on food production and consumption; the better nutrition of those who are undernourished even when supplies are abundant either in the country itself or in other countries; and agricultural trade and access to markets.

B. Prevention of Food Losses

45. The Conference noted that the subject of food losses has been on the agenda of many meetings of FAO and other bodies since 1974. The FAO Council at its 70th Session had recalled the resolution passed by these bodies, in particular that of the 7th Special Session of the UN General Assembly calling for a 50 percent reduction of post-harvest losses by 1985. The Council had requested the Director-General to prepare an Action Programme to reduce pre- and post-harvest losses and to present a proposal for a $20 million Fund for this purpose. The Action Programme was discussed by the 4th Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in April 1977. The Council at its Seventy-First Session unanimously approved the Action Programme, as endorsed by COAG, and a large majority of the Council also agreed with the proposal for an FAO Special Fund on Reduction of Food Losses. The Conference noted that the background document for its discussion (C 77/19) incorporated the refinements to the proposed Action Programme suggested in earlier discussions and presented a strategy for loss prevention activities in the developing countries to be carried out by member countries, by FAO and by other agencies.

46. In a wide-ranging discussion, many delegations reported on loss reduction activities already being undertaken in their countries. They noted that their surveys of post-harvest food losses often indicated losses greatly in excess of the figures quoted in the background document. Another aspect cited by delegates was the losses incurred at retail and consumer levels. Information on the level of losses had stimulated action to reduce them. Many examples of successful intervention were given, including the introduction of drying equipment; the development and construction of improved storage structures at farm, village and central level; the use of pesticides to control insect infestation; the establishment of research and training programmes; the improvement of conservation, processing, distribution and marketing systems; and the introduction of legislation on food quality, coupled with developmental activities to stimulate improvement in operations throughout the post-harvest system. The Conference emphasized the need for cooperation among developing countries and for building a network of institutions making use of the existing institutions within these countries, to assess, modify and transfer appropriate technologies as well as to train manpower requirements for this purpose with the objective of transforming the socio-economic structure for building a New International Economic Order. Several members mentioned coordinated regional research and development activities; and all indicated their readiness to make their information available to FAO and to other member countries, to assist similar interventions elsewhere. The Conference agreed that Expert Consultations be held as appropriate, to study and advise on new technologies for the reduction of harvest and post-harvest losses, which at present is woefully inadequate. The Conference appreciated the offers by two Member Governments to host a consultation of experts to facilitate a rapid implementation of the Action Programme.

47. The Conference generally approved the strategy proposed by FAO for the reduction of post-harvest losses in developing countries. National campaigns to "Save Food", including educational programmes, could increase awareness of the importance of losses by all concerned, from farmers to consumers. To establish action plans, National Committees, comprising representatives of all Ministries and organizations involved in the post-harvest system, could be useful and many countries reported that they were already planning and implementing action organized by such committees. The Conference recognized, however, that the form of planning mechanism depended on the local institutional framework. A comprehensive review of the post-harvest system at the national level would usually reveal the lack of accurate data on food losses. The Conference noted the general need for better information on the level of losses, both in quantity and quality. The lack of trained manpower, at all levels, was an important constraint to the implementation of national plans and the Conference emphasized the urgent need to increase the number of post-harvest technologists, particularly those having experience of tropical climates. Some members observed also that particular attention should be given to the development of technologies for the reduction of food losses in tropical and equatorial areas. Lack of national resources for investment in post-harvest facilities was also a constraint and the Conference urged donors and aid agencies to intensify their assistance in this area.

48. The Conference discussed at length the FAO Action Programme proposed by the Director General and noted that it was intended to be catalytic in nature. The Conference approved the selection of staple foods (food grains, roots and tubers) for priority action, though many members pointed out the importance of perishable foods (fish, fruit, vegetables and animal products) and urged their inclusion in the Programme at an early date. Some members requested that non-food products should also be included. The Conference noted that both perishable foods and non-food products are already the subject of on-going FAO programmes to reduce pre- and post-harvest losses.

49. The Conference strongly recommended that the Action Programme should give priority to actions to reduce losses at the farm and village level and that the type of improvements introduced should be simple, practical and based on the use of local materials. The Conference stressed the important role of women, particularly in rural areas, in the production, storage, preservation and utilization of food and felt that they should have the same possibilities as men to participate in training programmes as well as in all actions for increasing production and prevention of food losses. Many members pointed out the value of traditional methods of loss prevention and urged that these methods be evaluated and encouraged and that the results should be the subject of a publication.

50. The Conference noted the increase of allocation in the Regular Programme budget for 1978-79 for post-harvest activities, which was intended to support the Action Programme. This increase would provide for a small Central Unit in the Agriculture Department to direct the Programme and to coordinate post-harvest activities both within FAO and with other agencies. Post-harvest specialists would also be appointed in Regional Offices for Africa and Latin America. Action under the Regular Programme to collect and disseminate information on post-harvest technology, on successful projects and on the resources required for loss reduction activities would be intensified. For this purpose FAO would cooperate with and use the expertise of such groups as GASGA (Group for Assistance on Systems relating to Grain After-Harvest.)

51. The Conference approved the criteria for selection of projects to be financed under the Action Programme and the mechanism proposed by the Director-General for their implementation. The Conference noted that the model projects outlined in the background document were only examples and that the Programme should be flexible in meeting the real needs of developing countries. A majority of Delegations urged that the projects to be implemented under the FAO Action Programme should not be identified with any donor countries and would be financed by FAO on a truly multi-lateral basis.

52. The Programme would only initiate action, and finance for follow-up projects would be needed. FAO should assist in mobilizing further resources, for example, through Trust Funds, World Bank and IFAD.

53. The Conference examined the proposals submitted to it for the prevention of food losses, including the draft Resolution transmitted by the Council. After careful consideration and full exchange of views, the Conference considered that, on the basis of the following Resolution, the Organization would be endowed with an effective instrument to respond flexibly, under the authority of the Director-General, to the requirements of developing countries.

54. The Conference adopted the following resolution:

Resolution 3/77

Prevention of food losses

The Conference,

Recognizing the crucial importance of preventing food losses, particularly post-harvest food losses, for the purpose of meeting the food needs of the world;

Recalling paragraph V.3 of Resolution No. 3362(S-VII) of the Seventh Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which stated that the further reduction of post-harvest food losses in developing countries should be undertaken as a matter of priority, with a view to reaching at least a 50 percent reduction by 1985;

Believing that special measures as proposed by the Director-General for preventing food losses conducted and coordinated by FAO are vitally necessary and deserving of the fullest possible support from Member Governments and external sources, and considering in this connexion that a Special Account for Prevention of Food Losses as proposed by the Director General should be established;

Recognizing that it may however take some time to mobilize the level of voluntary contributions which might eventually be obtained from various sources in that it is necessary to begin operations without delay on an adequate scale;

  • 1. Decides to establish a Special Account for Prevention of Food Losses under Art. 6.7 of the Financial Regulations;

    2. Invites Member Nations of FAO and other contributors accordingly to make contributions amounting to at least $20 million to the Special Account;

    3. Decides that amounts which would otherwise be allocated to Member Nations under Resolution 35/75 shall, notwithstanding the provisions of Financial Regulation 6.1(b), be withheld and transferred in an amount not exceeding $10 million to the Special Account established under this Resolution, except where a Member Nation, by written notification lodged with the Director-General before 31 January 1978, requests that its portion so withheld be released and allocated in accordance with Financial Regulation 6.1(b);

    4. Urges Member Nations to refrain from making such requests in order that the Special Account may achieve a minimum level of $10 million at the earliest possible time;

    5. Further urges strongly those Member Nations which nevertheless request the release of the amounts withheld on their behalf to make as soon as possible in 1978 appropriate contributions to the Special Account and to notify the Director-General by 31 March 1978 of their intentions in this regard so that timely planning of the programme may proceed;

    6. Requests the Director-General to inform all Member Nations as soon as possible after 1 February 1978, 1 April 1978, and 1 October 1978 of all actions taken in pursuance of the above provisions, and to report to the Seventy-Fourth Session of the Council on the general situation of the Special Account, including the amounts transferred to the Special Account and the contributions received from Member Nations in accordance with paragraph 5 above;

    7. Authorizes the Director-General to make disbursements from the Special Account for the purposes approved by the Conference or the Council;

    8. Requests the Director-General to submit to the Council, through the Programme and Finance Committees, an annual report on the operations of the Special Account;

    9. Decides that the balance of monies in the Special Account shall be carried forward from year to year until the Conference decides to close the Special Account.

  • (Adopted 29 November 1977)

    C. Progress in International Agricultural Adjustment

    55. The Conference recalled Resolution 9/75 of its Eighteenth Session which had endorsed a set of 11 policy guidelines for International Agricultural Adjustment and had requested the Director-General to prepare a first assessment of progress for consideration by the present session of the Conference. The report "Progress of International Agricultural Adjustment" (C 77/20) constituted the Director-General's response.

    56. The Conference agreed that the report provided a valuable basis for consideration of progress in the achievement of agreed objectives and policies. International Agricultural Adjustment remained a primary concern of both developing and developed countries. The Conference reaffirmed its understanding that the policy objectives and guidelines contained in Resolution 9/75 should be interpreted as signposts for national policies which countries would formulate according to their own specific circumstances.

    57. The Conference agreed with the general assessment of progress reported by the Director General which showed that some progress had been made towards the achievement of the objectives of international agricultural adjustment during the period since the World Food Conference in 1974, but that this progress had nevertheless fallen short of what had been hoped for.

    58. The Conference noted with satisfaction achievements in a number of fields referred to in the Director-General's assessment of progress, such as a recovery of food production and an expansion of agricultural research facilities in developing regions, and it was informed of efforts being made to rationalize production structures in developed regions. Recent encouraging indications of progress in trade negotiations were also reported. Nevertheless, deep concern was expressed by many delegates at the persistence of obstacles to the more rapid improvement in situations relating to production, consumption, trade and external assistance in the developing countries. It was noted that indicators pointed to a widening rather than a narrowing of gaps between levels of per caput output and of crop yield in developed and developing countries. It was also noted that for various reasons marked differences existed in per caput production amongst developing regions and also within certain developing regions The widening gap in productivity between developed and developing countries reflected inadequate performance both on the part of developing countries in the improvement of their agriculture and of developed countries in not succeeding in improving considerably international trade opportunities and in providing the assistance to the extent which would permit the improvement of the agricultural sector of developing countries. Many delegations from developing countries expressed deep concern regarding the protectionist measures and the trade barriers adopted by developed countries, which have a negative effect on the economy of the developing countries because they impede, limit or make uncertain the access of their agricultural products to the markets in the developed countries. Delegates from some developed countries emphasized the increase in their countries' agricultural inputs from developing countries as a result of improved trade and stabilization arrangements. Attention was also drawn to the severity of problems faced by small farmers in the course of structural adjustment in agriculture. These problems needed renewed attention within development plans and policies.

    59. The Conference agreed that the Director-General should continue to monitor progress towards international agricultural adjustment and requested that the next report be presented to the Twentieth Session. To the extent permitted by the timing of meetings, that report should also reflect views of FAO bodies concerned, notably CCP and COAG. It should concentrate once again on major aspects of adjustment. The monitoring should be based on the existing guidelines which still reflected the consensus of Member Governments.

    60. The guidelines would need to be examined in due course to check their suitability in the light of changing conditions and prospects confronting agriculture. Consideration at the Twentieth Session of the Conference of the second monitoring report on international agricultural adjustment could therefore include examination of the guidelines as regards their appropriateness vis--vis the current and prospective situation of world agriculture and in relation to the aspirations and requirements of a New International Economic Order. Some delegates suggested that the Secretariat include in its next report proposals for revision of guidelines. Suggestions were made that Guideline 9 could be widened to include measures relating to import substitution as well as those relating to expansion of exports; Guideline 10 could be brought up to date: and Guideline 11 could be broadened to include targets for food commodities other than cereals as well as those for cereals.

    61. The Conference requested the Director-General in his preparation of the second report to bear in mind the following suggestions for its improvement: separation, at least on a pilot basis, of the data on production and resource flow relating to marketed and subsistence output; assessment of output growth rates between peak years; inclusion of data on production and imports of agricultural machinery (e.g. tractors); use of proxy or indirect data where direct series, such as the flow of financial resources to agriculture, were not available; widening, with the help of member countries, the range of monitored incentives to the expansion of production and the promotion of social equity of the rural population; examination of the implications for nutrition of changes in the non-food use of food commodities; more attention to food products other than cereals in assessing developments; monitoring of import substitution policies and the extent of import controls; expansion of the interpretation of the second part of Guideline 3 to cover the responsibilities of developing countries also; the analysis of the implications for supply/demand adjustments in the light of differences in agricultural structures as between countries; the analysis of reasons for any major shortfalls in performance as well as policy recommendations for accelerated achievement of objectives.

    D. Developments in the regime of the sea and their implications for fisheries

    62. The Conference noted the important developments that were taking place in the Regime of the Sea and the fundamental changes that extensions of national jurisdiction entailed for the management and control over most of the living resources of the oceans. It recognized, however, that the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea had not yet completed its work and that great care should be exercised to avoid prejudging the final outcome of that Conference.

    63. The Conference recognized that the new regime would give coastal states increased rights and responsibilities. In particular it noted that coastal states would enjoy sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources in extended areas under national jurisdiction. It considered that the emerging regime would make an important contribution to the establishment of a New International Economic Order and a more equitable nutrition policy thanks to better food production and distribution on a global basis. At the same time it was pointed out that efforts should be made to avoid a decrease in world fish catches as coastal countries adjust to the new rights and responsive abilities. Emphasis was placed on the need for optimum and rational utilization of resources in extended zones of jurisdiction and the intensification of fishing on underexploited stocks or unconventional resources.

    64. It was pointed out that the new opportunities for fishery development would place greater demands on coastal states in terms of research, surveys, management measures and enforcement, as well as processing and marketing of fish resources. The Conference stressed the magnitude of the task that was facing many developing coastal states if they were to make full use of the resources at their disposal and urged FAO, the leading intergovernmental body dealing with fisheries within the framework of competent organizations in ocean affairs, to be ready to discharge its responsibilities for technical cooperation on request by developing coastal states which have not yet reached a state of self-reliance. This could imply allocating increased resources to fishery programmes of the Organization.

    65. The Conference endorsed fully the request made by the Committee on Fisheries at its Eleventh Session in April 1977 that the Secretariat prepare a comprehensive programme to assist developing coastal states in managing and developing fishery resources in their economic zones. It recommended that this should be a medium-term programme, drawn up with the full participation of the countries concerned, with clearly defined objectives, priorities, target dates and balanced proposals for resources allocation aiming at providing training, updating and transfer of technology in all sectors of fisheries. It was felt that such a programme could be instrumental in promoting investment and mobilizing financial and other contributions from donor countries and bilateral and multilateral agencies. It recalled that assistance may be granted only upon request, in the form indicated by the coastal countries concerned and bearing in mind the sovereign rights of said coastal states over their natural resources and that assistance should be granted when it is foreseen that it will have beneficial repercussions on the population of the country concerned.

    66. The Conference welcomed the activities already carried out or planned by FAO to help developing coastal states adjust to the new regime governing fisheries. These included in particular multi-disciplinary missions, on request, to assess the implications on a country or region by region basis; the execution of studies leading to the formulation of fishery development plans; assistance in remodelling national legislation and restructuring or establishing national institutions, including fishery development corporations; assistance in preparing for or negotiating joint ventures and bilateral agreements on fisheries; and promotion of investments in the fishery sector. It was suggested that FAO should further promote technical cooperation among developing countries in fisheries. Further, the Conference recommended that FAO play a still more active part in the field of scientific studies on fishery resources and in that of the analysis and dissemination of statistical data on the subject.

    67. The Conference recognized that regional fishery bodies, and particularly those established within the framework of FAO, should contribute to increasing the capability of coastal states particularly as regards management and development activities as well as protection of the marine environment. It noted with satisfaction that the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Commission (IPFC) and the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the Commission for the South Pacific had recently assumed wider responsibilities for resources management and development, as well as protection of the marine environment. It requested that steps should be taken to make other bodies, especially the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC), more responsive to the new regime. In this respect it noted regional UNDP/FAO fishery development programmes. It also welcomed the proposed decentralization of activities, which should lead to an increased involvement of coastal states in the areas served by regional bodies without weakening in any way the unique and essential role of Headquarters, particularly in maintaining information and data services of common interest to all regions as well as competence in highly specialized technical matters.

    68. The Conference noted the useful contribution that unconventional resources, such as krill, meso-pelagic fish and oceanic squids, could make to increase world food supplies and particularly animal protein supplies. It expressed satisfaction with the activities carried our by FAO so far to promote the collection and exchange of information on these resources, including the problems encountered in catching, processing and marketing them. Particular reference was made to the usefulness of the UNDP/FAO Southern Oceans Fisheries Survey Programme. The Conference recommended that FAO continue these activities with the support of UNDP, but it stressed that such activities should only be pursued in consultation with the coastal states in the area and other interested states, as well as the appropriate scientific bodies, and in close cooperative working relations with the Parties to the Antarctic Treaty as regards the area covered by that Treaty. It was emphasized that in keeping with international law and practice no activity should take place within the area of jurisdiction of any state without the state's express request as has so far been the practice of FAO. A number of delegations recommended that FAO encourage developing countries to play a more active role in research, than is at present the case in the Southern Ocean. Some delegates also recommended that FAO maintain close contact with countries signatory to the Antarctic Treaty and be associated in all preparatory work and in the framing of a Convention aimed at conserving and protecting the living resources of the Southern Ocean.

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