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The Fifty-third Meeting of the Council SEAFDEC Press Statement

At the kind invitation of the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic by its Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) as host, the Fifty-third Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council was convened from 27 to 28 April and on 11 May 2021 through an online platform due to the unusual situation brought by the onslaught of the COVID-19.

In attendance at the Meeting were the Council Directors and delegations from the SEAFDEC Member Countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam, and the SEAFDEC Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, as well as officials of the SEAFDEC Secretariat and Departments, and representatives from collaborating agencies. The Opening Meeting Session of the Fifty-third Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council was held on 27 April 2021, and was presided over by the Deputy Director-General, Fisheries Agency of Japan and the Council Director for Japan, Takashi Koya. The Meeting unanimously elected the Council Director for Lao PDR, Mrs. Vilayphone Vorraphim as the Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the Year 2021–2022.

The Council noted the progress and achievements of SEAFDEC in 2020, and approved the proposed program of activities to be undertaken in 2021, ensuring that their implementation corresponds to the priorities and needs of the countries in the region.

On the promotion of sustainable utilization of fishery resources and aquaculture development in Southeast Asia, the Council provided recommendations on the regional initiatives to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing such as the Regional Fishing Vessels Record (RFVR) Database, the regional cooperation to support the implementation of port State measures (PSM), and the electronic ASEAN Catch Documentation Scheme (eACDS). The Council also endorsed the report on the stock and risk assessments of kawakawa and longtail tuna resources in the Southeast Asian waters, and noted the proposed Regional Technical Consultation on Aquatic Animal Health Emergencies in Southeast Asia.

For international fisheries-related issues, the Council provided guidance on the way forward on fisheries subsidies and for SEAFDEC to provide a platform to facilitate discussion among the Member Countries, share updated information, and develop common views to be reflected during WTO negotiations, as well as to extend capacity building for countries on developing the reference points to define overcapacity and overfishing. On the need to prevent the listing of certain aquatic species, such as sharks, rays, sea cucumbers, and eels in the CITES Appendices during the CoP19 in 2022, the Council also requested SEAFDEC to facilitate discussion among the Member Countries taking into consideration the stock status of these aquatic species.

The Council supported the proposed “Roadmap for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation of the Resolution and Plan of Action on Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security for the ASEAN Region Towards 2030;” and noted the progress made by SEAFDEC in the preparation of the publication “Southeast Asian State of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022,” and the ongoing “Study on the Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Fisheries Sector of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries.”

On utilization of the M.V. SEAFDEC 2 which was granted by the Government of Japan to SEAFDEC in 2004, proposals were put forward by some Member Countries, such as Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar to utilize the vessel in 2021 and onward. The recent upgrading of the navigation instruments, part of the engines, and other fishing accessories, and the installation of new hydroacoustic equipment, g. scientific echosounder SIMRAD EK-80 in the M.V. SEAFDEC 2 supported by the Government of Japan, make the vessel more capable of fulfilling the resource survey requirements of the Member Countries. The Council therefore thanked the Government of Japan for its continued support to SEAFDEC and the AMSs, and asked the Member Countries requesting for the utilization of the vessel to communicate with TD on their detailed plans and the necessary arrangements.

The Council appreciated the extension of close cooperation and collaboration between SEAFDEC and FAO, JAIF, JICA, UNEP, USAID, as well as other regional/international agencies/organizations in undertaking activities towards sustainable development of fisheries in the Southeast Asian region. Such cooperation could be tapped to address several fisheries related issues that are of significance to the region and require attention by the Southeast Asian countries, such as incidences of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in cultured species, management of marine litter and microplastics from land-based activities, marine debris, assessment of the impacts of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), gender equality in fisheries, Blue Transformation, and so on.

The Council expressed the appreciation to the Government of Japan for its commitment to continue supporting the activities of SEAFDEC towards sustainable development and management of fisheries in the Southeast Asian region, in spite of the onslaught of COVID-19 that resulted in severe impacts on the fisheries sector and economy of all SEAFDEC Member Countries including Japan.

At the closing of the Fifty-third Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council, the Council extended its appreciation to the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic for the excellent hosting of the Meeting. The Council then announced that the Fifty-fourth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council in 2022 would be hosted by Malaysia.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Akhane Phomsouvanh, SEAFDEC National Coordinator for Lao PDR (akhane@live.com)

Ms. Nualanong Tongdee, Information Program Coordinator, SEAFDEC Secretariat (nual@seafdec.org)