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SEAFDEC convenes the Fifty-fourth Meeting of Councils

At the kind invitation of the Government of Malaysia through its Department of Fisheries Malaysia as the host, the Fifty-fourth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council was convened on 23 and 25 May 2022 through an online platform due to the situation brought by 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 SEAFDEC Deputy Secretary-General, as well as officials from the SEAFDEC Secretariat and Departments, and representatives from collaborating organizations. The Opening Session of the Meeting was held on 23 May 2022 and was presided over by the Director-General of the Department of Livestock and Fisheries and the SEAFDEC Council Director for Lao PDR, Vilayphone Vorraphim. The Meeting unanimously elected the Council Director for Malaysia, Mr. Haji Mohd Sufian bin Sulaiman, as the Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the Year 2022–2023.

While taking note of the progress and achievements of SEAFDEC programs in 2021, the Council approved the proposed programs of activities to be undertaken in 2022 ensuring that the implementation would correspond to the priorities and needs of the countries in the region.

On the regional initiatives for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the Council acknowledged the progress made by SEAFDEC in sustaining the Regional Fishing Vessels Record (RFVR) Database for vessels 24 meters in length and over, and that the vessel data is to be updated regularly by the respective ASEAN Member States (AMSs) to ensure that the RFVR Database could be used effectively to combat IUU fishing; enhancing the regional cooperation to support the implementation of port State measures (PSM); and promoting the electronic ASEAN Catch Documentation Scheme (eACDS).

Moreover, the Council discussed several international fisheries-related issues. Noting that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is planning to organize its 19th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP19) on 14–25 November 2022 in Panama City, the Council supported SEAFDEC in the organization of the Regional Technical Consultation in August 2022 to discuss and come up with the ASEAN-SEAFDEC common/coordinated positions on the proposed listing of commercially exploited aquatic species into the CITES Appendices. On the negotiation of Fisheries Subsidies under the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council took note of the updated information on the discussion and expressed appreciation to SEAFDEC for organizing a series of Training Workshops that provided capacity building on stock assessment for the Member Countries to fulfill the WTO requirements. In addition, with regards to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) the Council noted the results of the Webinar on Regional Responses to the U.S. MMPA, and requested SEAFDEC to further coordinate with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide technical support to enable the AMSs to fulfill the U.S. MMPA requirements.

With regard to the 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 (RES&POA-2030), the Council took note of the progress made by SEAFDEC in conducting the “RES&POA-2030: Regional Workshop on Development of the Key Indicators and Detailed Roadmap for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation” in March 2022 and that the draft key indicators will be finalized at the Second Regional Workshop scheduled in June 2022.

The Council acknowledged the publication “The Southeast Asian State of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SEASOFIA) 2022” produced by SEAFDEC to provide information on the status, issues, challenges, and outlook of fisheries and aquaculture in the region. The Council also took note of the results of the “Study on the Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Fisheries Sector of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries” undertaken by SEAFDEC providing a set of recommendations to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 and revive the fisheries and aquaculture sector of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries.

Noting that the “Act on Ensuring the Proper Domestic Distribution and Importation of Specified Aquatic Animals and Plants” of Japan will enter into force on 1 December 2022, the Council welcomed and approved the proposal of Japan for SEAFDEC to jointly conduct the Webinar on Japan’s Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS) in late July or August 2022.

On the 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 Thailand and the Philippines for utilizing the research vessel in 2022; while the survey plan utilizing the research vessel by Myanmar in the near future would also be discussed and finalized within 2022.

The Council appreciated the extension of close cooperation and collaboration between SEAFDEC and other regional/international agencies/organizations, including the United States Agency for International Development/Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in undertaking activities towards sustainable development of fisheries in the Southeast Asian region.

At the closing of the Fifty-fourth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council, the Council extended its appreciation to the Government of Malaysia for the excellent hosting of the Meeting. The Council then announced that the Fifty-fifth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council in 2023 would be hosted by the Government of Myanmar.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Yeo Moi Eim, SEAFDEC National Coordinator for Malaysia (meyeo@dof.gov.my)

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