Dili, Timor-Leste 25 October 2011
Speaking at an international workshop today, H.E. Mariano Assanami Sabino, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Timor-Leste highlighted the benefits the nation would gain from deepening its relationship with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and becoming a member of the Asia Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC).
FAO recently appointed a permanent representative to Timor-Leste while the country became a member of the Asia Pacific Fishery Commission earlier in the year.
“These two advances will positively contribute to food security as well as improved resource management and consequently to the welfare of our nation,” the Minister said.
The Minister highlighted the importance of the fisheries sector to the nation’s future but recognised the need to increase skills and capacity so that the full potential of the fisheries sector could be reached.
“Fisheries is a sector that must be developed in this nation. We have the need, the resources, the people and the willingness while the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has given considerable support to fishers in many different ways. However, our fishers still use traditional technologies that result in low availability of fish while putting their lives at risk,” the Minister said.
The Minister was speaking at the opening of an international workshop entitled, “Safety at Sea and Coastal Vulnerabilities” organised in Dili from 25-28 October by the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (RFLP) which is funded by Spain and implemented by the FAO.
The workshop brought together RFLP team members from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam with international experts and FAO officials. It set out to provide recommendations, as well as identify best practices, lessons learned and key issues on safety at sea, disaster preparedness and coastal vulnerabilities that can be dealt with within the scope of RFLP or will need external attention from governments, NGOs, donors and/or International Organizations.
“I wish to thank the Kingdom of Spain, for the constant support to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Also I want to thank FAO for their work in contributing to food security in Timor Leste. Thanks too to the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for making possible this and many other events and activities which contribute to the welfare of our fishing communities and the operation of our state institutions,” the Minister added.
Speaking at the opening Jose Parajua, Regional Programme Manager of the RFLP said, “Fishing has been identified by the International Labour Organization as one of the most dangerous occupations due to accidents at sea, lack of vessel sea worthiness and high risk fishing behaviour. Poor links to warning systems and weather alerts compound these vulnerabilities. Coastal fishing communities are also highly vulnerable due to poverty, their exposed locations, lack of access to basic health and education services as well as social issues such as drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, corruption, child labour and gender inequalities.
“Despite this, coastal communities can be assisted if we approach the problems in the right way. In particular, innovative approaches to community preparedness and identification of the underlying causes of vulnerability and accidents at sea can help fisheries and their families be more prepared and more resilient to these threats and their drivers. This is a key goal of the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme.”
RFLP is funded by the Kingdom of Spain and implemented by the FAO. It sets out to strengthen capacity among participating small-scale fishing communities and their supporting institutions in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam. For more information see www.rflp.org or www.facebook.com/FisheriesLivelihoods