At the kind invitation of the Government of the Republic of Singapore, the 46th Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council was held from 1 to 4 April 2014 and hosted by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore. Situated in the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and being one of the world’s busiest hubs for transshipment traffic, Singapore is a regional food showcase and headquarters for a number of international food and agricultural related companies including fish and seafood products which have contributed to the country’s economic development.
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 Vietnam. The Inaugural Ceremony of the 46th Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council was held on 1 April and presided over by the Honorable Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Defence and Mayor of South East District, Singapore, Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman. The Meeting unanimously elected the Council Director for Singapore, Mr. Lee Kwong Weng as the Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the Year 2014-2015, succeeding Atty. Asis G. Perez, SEAFDEC Council Director for the Philippines who served as the Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the year 2013-2014.
The Council noted the good progress and achievements of SEAFDEC in 2013, and approved the proposed program of activities to be undertaken by SEAFDEC in 2014, which have been formulated taking into consideration the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Resolution and Plan of Action on Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security for the ASEAN Region Towards 2020 adopted by the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Ministers and Senior Officials in June 2011. The Council also provided directions on the future activities of SEAFDEC, particularly the establishment of “Regional Fishing Vessels Record” as a tool to combat the IUU fishing, and the “Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Utilization of Neritic Tunas in the Southeast Asian Region”.
On the “Regional Fishing Vessels Record” (RFVR), the Council supported the establishment of the RFVR as it is an initial but bold step towards combating IUU fishing in the region. While the Member Countries agreed to share their respective minimum requirements information on fishing vessels 24 meters in length and over for compilation in the SEAFDEC database system, SEAFDEC was also requested by the countries to provide capacity building for staff of concerned national agencies to enable them to efficiently provide information into the database, as well as continued support particularly in the conversion the current units used in measuring fishing vessels into the commonly-agreed unit of measurement.
The Council endorsed the proposal for the development of Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Utilization of Neritic Tunas in the Southeast Asia which includes the development of the Regional Plan of Action on Sustainable Neritic Tuna Fisheries Management. Considering the inadequate data and information to support the development of the said Regional Plan of Action, SEAFDEC was requested to circulate the draft Regional Plan of Action including substantive background information to the Member Countries for their support on such development. SEAFDEC was also requested to develop appropriate technology and fishing gears for the capture of neritic tuna species in a sustainable manner.
The Council also supported the proposal for SEAFDEC to serve as Coordination Unit for the new training program on Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM), considering that this could be the first step for the countries in the region to move towards EAFM. In this connection, SEAFDEC was requested to provide assistance to the Member Countries to enhance their capacities on the application of EAFM in the future.
The Council took note of the progress of the establishment of the “Inland Fishery Resources Development and Management Department (IFRDMD)”, especially the construction of new buildings on land areas donated by the Government of Indonesia, as well as in securing research facilities for this new Department. Aside from providing infrastructures and support to the operations and staff of the new Department, Indonesia is also sourcing financial support from potential donors for the implementation of programs and projects of IFRDMD. The Council considered and approved in principle the Plan of Operation and Program of Work of IFRDMD to enable the Department to start operations in the soonest time possible.
At the closing of the 46th Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council, the Council extended its appreciation to the Government and the people of the Republic of Singapore for the excellent hosting of the Meeting and the warm hospitality accorded to the Council throughout the event. The Council then announced that the 47th Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council in 2015 would be hosted by Thailand.