In complying with the mandate given by the FAO Conference, the FAO Fisheries Department is promoting and coordinating the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). The mandate also extends to addressing related priority issues that concern implementation. Issues as such are considered in the implementation of the Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity and for the better understanding of the role of fishery subsidies in trade and fishery resources sustainability.
The 23rd Session of the Committee on Fisheries made explicit references to fishery subsidies and the role of FAO, when considering the report of the Sixth Session of the Subcommittee on Fish Trade. The Committee underscored similar considerations when adopting the International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity (IPOA). The implementation of the IPOA has been assigned high priority by the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries in March 1999. The IPOA contains specific references and recommendations related to fishery subsidies in the context of the management of fishing capacity.
During the meeting of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), 29-30 June 1999, in which the IPOA was presented, it was recommended that FAO be invited to report to its subsequent meeting (October 1999) on the current activities to implement the IPOA and "at least on the main elements of an indicative work programme aimed at addressing the impact of subsidies and other factors which contribute to overcapacity and unsustainability in fisheries". This request was in principle fulfilled in October 1999. This note provides more detailed information on both subjects. A review of the recent work undertaken and the future activities to be undertaken by FAO in support of the management of fishing capacity is included in this summary presentation (Section II). The document also introduces (Section III) the related initiatives being undertaken by FAO to address the issue of subsidies in fisheries.
Steps are being taken by FAO to provide support to the implementation of the IPOA and to address related issues. Major initiatives are reviewed below.
Technical Guidelines for the management of fishing capacity are being prepared and will be published mid 2000. Together with existing CCRF Guidelines on Fishery Management, this document will assist the Member Countries in efficient implementation of the IPOA.
A Technical Consultation was organized from 29 November to 3 December 1999 in Mexico and addressed issues pertaining to the measurement of fishing capacity. Technical guidelines are being prepared on this basis specifying methods and main options for measurement and monitoring of fishing capacity.
FAO is collaborating closely with Australia in the collection and analysis of data on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. An Expert Consultation will discuss these issues in Sidney, Australia, from 15 to 19 May 2000. This activity will lead to the preparation of a draft international plan of action on IUU to be discussed at an FAO Technical Consultation to be held in Rome from 2 to 6 October 2000. The issue is relevant to the implementation of the IPOA on the management of fishing capacity, as well as to the implementation of other international instruments regarding high sea fisheries.
The transition to responsible fisheries and the control of fishing capacity in particular may require adjustments in fleet size, the relocation of fishers and - in the case of small scale fisheries - the implementation of alternative livelihood programmes. Work on this issue is being initiated which will lead to the organization in 2001 of a FAO Expert Consultation on the Reduction of Fishing Capacity.
As requested in the IPOA, FAO is also initiating work on the identification of factors contributing to overcapacity and unsustainability, such as: lack of input and output control, unsustainable fishery management and subsidies which contribute to overcapacity. As a first step a study has been initiated which aims at the systematic identification of such factors and at reviewing their comparative theoretical impact on sustainability. On this basis and further considering the outcome of work undertaken on related issues (IUU, subsidies, fishery management, etc.), FAO will assess at a later stage the need to organize an international technical meeting on the identification and assessment of factors contributing to overcapacity and unsustainability of fisheries.
FAO is also aiming at providing increased direct support to developing member States for the promotion of sustainable fisheries in general and for the implementation of the IPOA in particular. A programme is being developed towards this end which will require extra-budgetary funding. As a first step and with the financial assistance of Japan, FAO will organize in 2000-2001 a series of three regional workshops aimed at facilitating the implementation of the IPOA in selected developing countries.
A. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The FAO Fisheries Department assists FAO members to review the use and effects of subsidies in fisheries. The FAO Expert Consultation on Economic Incentives and Responsible Fisheries held in Rome, from 28 November to 1st December 2000 reviewed part of this work. Twelve experts (two from Asia, two from Latin America, two from Africa, two from Europe, two from North America, one from Oceania and one expert from WTO) invited in their individual capacity, attended the Consultation. They addressed three main issues: (i) the definition of subsidies and how best to divide them into categories; (ii) the impact of subsidies on fisheries resources sustainability; and, (iii) the impact of subsidies on trade in fish and fish products.
The report of the Expert Consultation was considered by FAO Members during the 24th Session of the FAO Committee of Fisheries, 26 February-2 March 2001. The Committee agreed that future work by FAO on subsidies in fisheries should aim to determine the quantitative and qualitative effects of subsidies on trade in fish and fishery products and on sustainability of fishery resources. Work on trade aspect should be of a technical nature and be closely coordinated with the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the competent body for trade discipline.
The Committee of Fisheries proposed that a second Expert Consultation on Subsidies in Fisheries be organized by FAO. It also suggested that the Expert Consultation be followed by a Government Technical Consultation on the issue.
The multi-national discussions about the use of subsidies in fisheries will continue. In preparing for such discussions countries are likely to need to identify and assess the magnitude and effects of subsidies in their respective economies. They will also need to consider how to make intercountry comparisons of subsidies and their effects.
The principal objective of the expert consultation is to help those concerned to identify, assess and report on fishery subsidies.
The Expert Consultation
- will critically review a methodology for identifying, assessing and reporting on subsidies to the fisheries sector; and,
- will discuss international comparisons of the magnitude and effect of subsidies.