Rome – Fisheries & aquaculture can potentially contribute more to improved global food security & nutrition, but efforts must be stepped up to ensure further development is efficient, inclusive & sustainable, & recognises the vital role of small-scale fishers & fish farmers, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu opened the 35th Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI35), the only global inter-governmental forum that provides recommendations & policy advice to governments, regional fishery bodies, civil society organizations, as well as the private sector & international community.
“Today, more than ever, as we face many global challenges, fisheries & aquaculture play an increasingly important role in providing food, nutrition & jobs across the world,” Qu said, adding: “our valuable aquatic resources must be managed & used responsibly & sustainably, guided by the best science available” in what FAO terms a Blue Transformation.
This week’s COFI meeting (5-9 September) will discuss how to grow global aquaculture sustainably & equitably, improve fisheries management & increase efforts to eliminate Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated (IUU) fishing, & how to ensure biodiversity conservation & sustainable development of fisheries & aquaculture in the context of a changing climate.
The COFI opening session included remarks by Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Oceans & Rafael Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, with which FAO has extensive cooperation.
Implementing Code of Conduct
Members will also discuss the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, a key instrument which has been guiding efforts to advance sustainable fisheries & aquaculture around the world for over 25 years.
To further support the implementation of the Code, the Committee will call on countries to endorse the first Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment, a new instrument that will provide Members & organizations with critical standards to apply in their policies & regulations.
Regulating, monitoring & controlling transshipment supports sustainable fisheries. The aim is to tighten the loopholes that enable fish derived from illegal, unreported & unregulated (IUU) fishing to be transferred from one vessel to another without authorization & enter the market.
As FAO’s 2022 flagship report The State of World Fisheries & Aquaculture reveals, aquaculture has witnessed dramatic growth & consumer demand is expected to drive further expansion. The growth of aquaculture, particularly in Asia, lifted total production of fisheries & aquaculture to an all-time high of 214 million tonnes in 2020.
Global consumption of aquatic foods (excluding algae) has increased at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent since 1961, reaching 20.2 kg per capita, more than double consumption in the 1960s.
FAO is committed to ‘Blue Transformation’, a visionary initiative to meet the twin challenges of food security & environmental sustainability while ensuring equitable outcomes & gender equality. COFI35 will provide an opportunity to discuss this further in the context of advancing environment-friendly policy & practices, as well as technological innovation.
Qu also announced the launch of the first-ever FAO fish recipe book, the product of his initiative at the last session of COFI, inviting Members & FAO staff to share how they experience fish as food in their lives. The book combines food recipes from around the world with FAO’s technical information on the ecology, sustainability & nutritional content of the fish used in the recipes, some submitted by renown chefs.
Artisanal fisheries & aquaculture
To mark the International Year for Artisanal Fisheries & Aquaculture, a high-level event was also held today to discuss the critical contribution that small-scale fishers & fish farmers make to the lives & livelihoods of entire communities around the world, especially in developing countries.
“We can all do more, & we must continue to listen to the voices & needs of small-scale , fishers, fish farmers & fish workers,” Qu said as he opened the event, paying tribute to the ”women, men, youth, Indigenous Peoples & rural communities who are the backbone of the small-scale fisheries & aquaculture sub-sectors. Today, we are here to recognize & support this historic, yet dynamic & innovative way of living, & to preserve it for future generations.”
Qu stressed the importance of developing national plans & strategies in support of small-scale fisheries & aquaculture, building on established instruments such as the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security & Poverty Eradication.
Those addressing the IYAFA event included Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, Minister for Marine Affairs & Fisheries of Indonesia, Tsimanaoraty Paubert Mahatante, Minister of Fisheries & Blue Economy of Madagascar, Jorge Luis Prado Palomino, Minister of Production of Peru, Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, Minister for Environment, Water, & Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, Alicia Villauriz, Vice-Minister for Fisheries of Spain, Maxine Burkett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Fisheries & Polar Affairs, United States Department of State & Margaret Nakato, winner of the 2020-21 Margarita Lizárraga Medal & a member of the IPC Working Group on Fisheries, that represents millions of small-scale fishers & fish workers globally.
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