This document reviews and analyses the background to the development of APFIC as a Regional Consultative Forum. The consultant’s report addresses the question “How can APFIC act as a consultative forum that is responsive to Members needs?” and is provided in the first instance for the deliberations of the APFIC Executive Committee.
Part 1 of the document acknowledges the importance of fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. In recent years APFIC, the FAO’s regional fishery body, has become inactive and needs to renew its role in support of the fisheries issues of the wider region. The report examines the history of APFIC’s own deliberations (that have taken place over the last approximately eight years) over the role the Commission should play in the future. The report summarizes Members’ responses to a letter of the FAO Director General on this subject, and concludes that there is support for APFIC adopting the role of a Regional Consultative Forum. It is suggested that APFIC’s major role is to provide a forum for Member nations to discuss fisheries issues and to formulate recommendations for action - particularly on trans-boundary issues and issues common to groups of Members across the wider Asia-Pacific. The report considers the requirements for APFIC performing this role. The established and emerging position and activities of other bodies and international arrangements directly concerned with fisheries are examined. By reviewing recent FAO literature on Regional fisheries bodies (RFBs) the report identifies specific responsibilities of RFBs and areas (particularly requirements for fisheries information, technical improvements and capacity building) of importance to the Asia-Pacific region which could be considered as subject matter for the Forum’s future deliberations.
In Part 2 of the document, the possible structure, schedule of meetings and the implications of the adoption of the Regional Consultative Forum concept are discussed. The major recommendations are that, given the large number of regional bodies and international arrangements active in aspects of fisheries, aquaculture and coastal and marine science across the region, that the Regional Consultative Forum should include other RFBs and relevant organizations with regional activities. This will promote the sharing of information, raise awareness of solutions to common problems, and help avoid overlaps and redundancy in the future. The setting of the agenda for the Regional Consultative Forum should be a widely inclusive process and be managed by the APFIC Secretariat. As well as information exchange and an ability to establish the state of the region’s fisheries, the major outcomes of the Forum will be endorsed by APFIC and will be used to guide the work of APFIC, its Secretariat and its Ad Hoc working groups in the subsequent period. As APFIC is the designated FAO-Regional Fishery Body, the outcomes of APFIC’s deliberations and its recommendations need to be disseminated widely, principally to FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and to meetings of other RFBs. Opportunities to use the recommendations to inform policy making for the region’s fisheries should also be developed.
The Consultative Regional Forum is proposed as a biennial event and two alternative schedules for the holding of APFIC Meetings are provided. The schedules seek to ensure appropriate development, review and endorsement of regional recommendations on fisheries by Members, and to provide these recommendations to inform FAO’s Committee on Fisheries. The Forum concept encourages interaction between Members on issues of common concern as well as the treatment of fisheries interactions with larger scale environmental and inter-sectoral management. However, the more broadly inclusive Regional Consultative Forum is viewed as a replacement of the traditional APFIC Symposia, so that relatively few, if any, modifications to the APFIC Agreement or Rules of Procedure are foreseen. The Executive Committee, and subsequently the full Session of the Commission, will be required to decide on the form and structure of the Consultative Forum and its scheduling, to advance the implementation of the concept and the new way of working. To aid the decision making, the report provides analyses of the issues associated with the uptake of the Forum concept by APFIC, including the proposition that the Forum be pursued as a major regional event in fisheries with donor support.