The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission was established under the APFIC agreement as the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council in 1948 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. APFIC is an Article XIV FAO Regional Fishery Body established by FAO at the request of its members. The Secretariat is provided and supported by FAO. APFIC (The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission) has a more than 50-year history and is one of the longest established regional fishery bodies (or RFBs).
In February 1948, the Director-General of FAO invited interested Member Governments of FAO to attend a meeting in Baguio City, the Philippines to discuss the establishment of a regional body to support fishery development in the Asia-Pacific region. At this meeting, an Agreement establishing the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council was drawn up by accredited delegates of eight nations attending the meeting, viz., Burma (now the Union of Myanmar), China, France, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Agreement came into force on 9 November 19484. The FAO Conference at its Fourth Session (Washington DC, USA, 15-29 November 1948) approved the establishment of this regional fishery body with the title ‘Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council (IPFC)’, under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution.
The First Session of IPFC was held in Singapore in March 1949, with its first administrative task that of adopting the Council’s Rules of Procedure and the terms of reference of its two technical committees. Subsequent to the First Session, amendments to the Agreement and the Rules of Procedure have been adopted from time to time by the Council. The major ones include the amendments adopted by IPFC at its Ninth Session (1961) in order to bring it into line with the principles regarding such bodies adopted by the FAO Conference at its Eleventh Session (1961, Resolution 27/61). Amendments to its Rules of Procedure concerning subsidiary bodies of the Council and the terms of reference of its two Technical Committees were adopted at the Twelfth Session of IPFC (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, October 1966) and approved by the FAO Council in 1967.
The change of the name ‘Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council’ to ‘Indo-Pacific Fishery Commission’ was made at the Seventeenth Session of IPFC (Colombo, Sri Lanka, October/November 1976). The Council at that session also decided to amend the Agreement to enable the Commission to take action directly related to fisheries management and development in its area of competence. The amendments were approved by the FAO Council at its Seventy-second Session (Rome, Italy, 1977, Resolution 4/72).
Further amendments to the Agreement were made at the Twenty-fourth Session of the Commission (Bangkok, Thailand, 23 November-4 December 1993), with the title of the Agreement changed to ‘Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC)’, and with amendments to the functions and responsibilities of the Commission, giving more emphasis to sustainable development and management. These amendments were endorsed by the FAO Council at its Hundred and Seventh Session on 21 November 1994 (para. 189 of the Report of the Council). The latest major amendments to the Agreement and the Rules of Procedure were adopted by APFIC at its Twenty-fifth Session (Seoul, Republic of Korea, October 1996). At this session, the Commission endorsed the recommendation of its Executive Committee that the Agreement and the Rules of Procedure revised at its Twenty-fourth Session should again be amended. The objective was to bring them into line with the Principles and Procedures which should Govern Conventions and Agreements Concluded under Articles XIV and XV of the FAO Constitution, and Commissions and Committees Established under Article VI of the Constitution (Part R of the Basic Texts of FAO which was revised by Resolutions 8/91 and 13/93 of the FAO Conference in November 1991 and 1993 respectively). These revisions were aimed at giving more flexibility to FAO Members in drawing up agreements under Articles XIV and XV of the Constitution and at allowing for a greater degree of autonomy for bodies established under such agreements. These amendments were approved by the FAO Council at its Hundred and Twelfth Session in June 1997 (para. 88 of the Report of the Council).
The history of APFIC is reviewed in the document "50 Years of the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission". The direction of the Commission was reviewed in the document The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission - its changing role.
More recently, the APFIC strategy 2012-2018 has clarified how the Commission will perform the functions laid out in the APFIC Agreement.
The Governing Body of APFIC is the Commission, which is advised by its Executive Committee.
"The governing body of the APFIC is the Commission. It carries out its activities at intervals of two years. It is composed of all Members. Each member has one vote. Decisions are taken by a majority of the votes cast, unless a greater majority is required. The Commission is assisted by an Executive Committee and other subsidiary bodies and the Secretariat. To ensure continuity, these latter organs have also important functions to fulfil during the intervals between sessions".
The Executive Committee consists of the Chair, the Vice Chair, the outgoing Chair and two members elected by the Commission. The Secretary is an ex-officio member without a vote. The Executive Committee meets once a year between regular sessions to direct the conduct of the business and affairs of the Commission between its sessions.
"There shall be an Executive Committee consisting of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, the immediately retired Chairman and two members elected by the Commission. In the unavoidable absence of one or two members of the Executive Committee from a Committee session, the Chairman shall have the power to co-opt the chairman of one or two of the committees which may from time to time be established in accordance with the Rules governing the procedure of the Commission, at his discretion, to substitute the absent Committee member or members for that Committee session only, provided that two permanent members of the Executive Committee shall always be present and that the number of voting members attending the Committee session shall in no case exceed five." (APFIC Agreement, Article III - Committees and working parties).
Committees and working Parties (APFIC Agreement, Article III)
The Commission may establish Committees and working parties to assist its work. The Commission may in addition establish temporary, special or standing committees to study and report on matters pertaining to the purpose of the Commission. The Commission may establish working parties to study and recommend on specific technical problems. These working parties shall be convened by the Director-General of the Organization at such times and places as are in accordance with the objectives for which they were established.
The establishment of committees and working parties referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3 above shall be subject to the availability of the necessary funds in the relevant chapter of the approved budget of the Organization; the determination of such availability shall be made by the Director-General. Before taking any decision involving expenditures in connexion with the establishment of committees and working parties, the Commission shall have before it a report from the Director-General on the administrative and financial implications thereof.
The function of APFIC (APFIC Agreement, Article IV)
The purpose of the Commission shall be to promote the full and proper utilization of living aquatic resources by the development and management of fishing and culture operations and by the development of related processing and marketing activities in conformity with the objectives of its Members, and to these ends it shall have the following functions and responsibilities:
(a) to keep under review the state of these resources and of the industries based on them;
(b) to formulate and recommend measures and to initiate and carry out programmes or projects to:
(i) increase the efficiency and sustainable productivity of fisheries and aquaculture;
(ii) conserve and manage resources;
(iii) protect resources from pollution;
(c) to keep under review the economic and social aspects of fishing and aquaculture industries and recommend measures aimed at improving the living and working conditions of fishermen and other workers in these industries and otherwise at improving the contribution of each fishery to social and economic goals;
(d) to promote programmes for mariculture and coastal fisheries enhancement;
(e) to encourage, recommend, coordinate and, as appropriate, undertake training and extension activities in all aspects of fisheries;
(f) to encourage, recommend, coordinate and undertake, as appropriate, research and development activities in all aspects of fisheries;
(g) to assemble, publish or otherwise disseminate information regarding the living aquatic resources and fisheries based on these resources;
(h) to carry out such other activities as may be necessary for the Commission to achieve its purpose as defined above.
More recent sessions have elaborated that APFIC will act as a Regional Consultative Forum that works in partnership with other regional organizations and arrangements and members. It provides advice, coordinates activities and acts as an information broker to increase knowledge of fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia Pacific region to underpin decision making.
APFIC area of competence
"Area - The Commission shall carry out the functions and responsibilities set forth in Article IV in the Asia-Pacific Area." (APFIC Agreement, Article VI)
APFIC's area of competence (the Asia-Pacific) is the biggest producer of fisheries and aquaculture globally. This description is a broad definition of the area where APFIC will conduct its work. APFIC is competent in both marine and inland waters of its area of competence. The abolition of the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC) and its Committee for the Development and Management of Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal (BOBC) in June 1999 resulted in closer involvement of APFIC in this sub-region, as the functions of BOBC was transferred to APFIC by the FAO Council.
Eligibility for Membership
Member Nations and Associate Members of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which accept the Agreement in accordance with Article X thereof. Other States that are Members of the United Nations, any of its Specialized Agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency may be admitted as members by a two-thirds majority of the Commission
Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America, Viet Nam.