At the kind invitation of the Government of Myanmar through its Department of Fisheries as the host, the Fifty-fifth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council (55CM) was convened on 9 and 11 May 2023 through the online platform.
In attendance at the Meeting were the Council Directors and delegates from the SEAFDEC Member Countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam, SEAFDEC Secretary-General, SEAFDEC Deputy Secretary-General, as well as officials from the SEAFDEC Secretariat and Departments. The Opening Session of the 55CM was held on 9 May 2023 and presided over by the Director-General of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia and SEAFDEC Council Director for Malaysia, Dato’ Adnan bin Hussain. The 55CM unanimously elected the Council Director for Myanmar, Wai Lin Maung, as the Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the Year 2023–2024.
While taking note of the progress and achievements of the SEAFDEC programs and projects in 2022, the Council approved the proposed programs of activities to be undertaken in 2023 ensuring effective implementation corresponding to the priorities and needs of the countries in the region.
On the regional initiatives in 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 the data of which was updated regularly by the respective ASEAN Member States (AMSs); promoting the electronic ASEAN Catch Documentation Scheme (eACDS), and enhancing regional cooperation for the implementation of Port State Measures. Discussions were made on the possibility of expanding the RFVR Database to cover vessels smaller than 24 meters in length which are the majority in the region, noting that the provision of the data is up to the respective countries.
Moreover, the Council also noted the intergovernmental collaboration to combat IUU fishing in Southeast Asia focusing on information-sharing platforms developed under the ASEAN Network for Combating IUU Fishing (AN-IUU), RFVR Database, and Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating IUU Fishing in the Region (RPOA-IUU). The proposal was made on making the data of the RFVR Database accessible by the AN-IUU in order that the AMSs could fully utilize the two platforms to support combating IUU fishing in the region, noting that this is subject to further discussion under the relevant ASEAN-related fora.
On the global initiatives in combating IUU fishing, the Council took note of the progress of the implementation of the Port States Measure Agreement by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the updated information on the FAO Global Information Exchange System (GIES) and FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment which were recently endorsed during the 35th Session of FAO Committee on Fisheries. In this connection, SEAFDEC was urged to provide technical support to the Member Countries, especially on the utilization of GIES for inspection activities and the implementation of FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment.
The Council congratulated SEAFDEC for its achievements in coming up with the results of the genetic population and life history study for Kawakawa (Euthynnus affinis) in the region. The Council encouraged SEAFDEC to consider progressing from the activities on assessing the status of stock and identifying the genetic characteristics of the species to activities on developing a Harvest Strategy/Management Procedure as a way forward to the sustainable management of neritic tunas in the region.
The Council discussed several international fisheries-related issues including the results of voting on the proposals of commercially-exploited aquatic species to amend the CITES Appendices during the 19th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES-CoP19) which was convened on 14–25 November 2022 in Panama City, Panama.
Furthermore, the Council also recognized the issues related to marine debris, microplastics, and abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear in Southeast Asia. In this connection, SEAFDEC was urged to follow up on the relevant discussion at other fora such as those of the International Maritime Organization, and to provide technical support and capacity-building activities to the AMSs on the implementation of FAO Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gears.
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 approved by the majority the draft Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation of the RES&POA-2030 (2021 Baseline Information) and supported its submission to the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Fisheries and higher authorities through the ASEAN Mechanism.
On the utilization of the M.V. SEAFDEC 2 which was granted by the Government of Japan to SEAFDEC in 2004, Brunei Darussalam confirmed their request for utilizing the vessel to conduct fishery resources surveys in their waters in 2023; while Thailand postponed the utilization of the vessel to 2024 and the Philippines until further notice.
The Council acknowledged that SEAFDEC has become a member of the International Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (IMCS) Network in early 2023. Such membership could provide several benefits to SEAFDEC and Member Countries in combating IUU fishing and promoting sustainable fisheries management.
The Council appreciated the cooperation and collaboration between SEAFDEC and other regional/international agencies/organizations, particularly the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO/RAP), in undertaking activities toward sustainable development of fisheries in the Southeast Asian region through the project “Sustainable Management of Fisheries, Marine Living Resources and Their Habitats in the Bay of Bengal Region for the Benefit of Coastal States and Communities” that would commence in 2023.
At the closing session, the Council expressed appreciation to the Government of Myanmar for the excellent hosting of the 55CM. The Council then announced that the Fifty-sixth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council in 2024 would be hosted by the Government of the Philippines.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Nyunt Win, SEAFDEC National Coordinator for Myanmar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms. Nualanong Tongdee, Information Program Coordinator, SEAFDEC Secretariat (email@example.com)