The 32nd session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) has concluded with participants welcoming the entry into force of the Agreement of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (PSMA). The meeting also featured discussions on aquaculture, food security and blue growth, among other issues.
COFI 32 celebrated the PSMA's entry into force during a special event, with several countries stating that their governments are in the process of becoming a Party to the Agreement. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called on Parties to “show their commitment to legal and sustainable fisheries” and to support the PSMA's implementation by providing assistance and funding through the Article 21 Trust Fund. João Aguiar Machado, Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission (EC), also urged contributions to the Fund. The Republic of Korea has already confirmed a financial contribution, according to FAO. Also at the event, FAO launched a film on the PSMA.
On combating IUU fishing, participants underscored the relationship between addressing IUU fishing and implementing the PSMA. Participants recognized the negative impact of IUU fishing on conservation efforts, national economies and the livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities. Many called for an International Day to Combat IUU Fishing to raise awareness of the issue.
On blue growth, the Committee reiterated its support for the Blue Growth Initiative's four streams of work: food security and nutrition; poverty reduction; sustainable management of living aquatic resources; and resilience. It noted the relevance of these areas of work for achieving progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On aquaculture and food security, the Committee discussed 'The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) 2016,' which highlights the role of fisheries and aquaculture in food security, jobs and livelihoods, and growth and development in children. Speaking on the issue, da Silva noted that “women are key to the 2030 Agenda in fisheries.” COFI also discussed the role of fisheries and aquaculture at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and stressed the importance of recognizing fisheries as a provider of food, not just a source of economic activity. Participants recommended developing guidelines to reduce post-harvest losses.
In conjunction with COFI 32, FAO also released its 'Yearbook of Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics,' which compiles data on aquaculture and capture production, fleet, fishers and fish consumption, among other topics.
COFI 32 also discussed FAO's Programme of Work in fisheries and aquaculture and welcomed FAO's corporate climate change strategy and action plan, which includes guidance on adaptive fisheries management measures. Participants further recognized the vulnerability of coral reefs to climate change.
On other matters, the Republic of Korea submitted a proposal for the establishment of a FAO World Fisheries University, which suggests a pilot partnership programme with a Korean university institution for capacity building and training in fisheries.
Over 700 participants from 126 countries, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in COFI 32, which convened from 11-15 July 2016, at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. COFI is a subsidiary body of the FAO Council. [FAO Press Release on COFI Day 1] [FAO Press Release on COFI Day 2] [FAO Press Release on COFI Day 3] [FAO Press Release on COFI Day 4] [UN Press Release] [COFI Website] [Republic of Korea Proposal] [Agenda] [Yearbook of Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics] [IISD RS Story on COFI Opening]