On 15-16 September 2015, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and SEAFDEC jointly convened the “Oceans and Fisheries Partnership Inception Workshop” in Bangkok, Thailand. Officiated by the U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN H.E. Nina Hachigian, Mission Director of USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia represented by Mr. Alfred Nakatsuma, Deputy Director-General of the DOF Thailand Dr. Waraporn Prompoj, and Secretary-General of SEAFDEC Dr. Chumnarn Pongsri, the Workshop was attended by delegates from the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries, namely: Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Representatives from SEAFDEC Secretariat, TD and MFRDMD; officers from the USAID; and members of the TetraTech which has been contracted to implement the project, as well as representatives from other regional/international partners, namely: CTI-CFF, FAO, Anova Seafood, GFTC, ANCORS, UN-ACT, Swedish Embassy, WWF-CTI, WWF, and Smithsonian Institute also attended the Workshop which discussed and concretized the activities to be implemented under the project.
At the outset, the strong desire of the U.S. Government to undertake measures against IUU fishing and seafood fraud was expressed by H.E. Nina Hachigian. Such strong will has led to the establishment of a cooperation between USAID and SEAFDEC towards the development of the “Oceans and Fisheries Partnership” which has the overall goal of “increasing the ability of regional fishery organizations to conserve marine biodiversity and combat IUU fishing in the Asia Pacific region”, to ensure sustainable fisheries and sustainability of the oceans for food security.
The core activity of the “Oceans and Fisheries Partnership” would focus on the development of the “Catch Documentation and Traceability (CDT) System”, and demonstration of CDT system in selected site(s). At a later stage, the coverage could be expanded to other areas that are important for biodiversity conservation in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, aspects on gender, labor and social issues would also be integrated along with the project implementation. Taking into account the recommendations made at this Inception Workshop, it is expected that the project document with more detailed activity plan would be consolidated and submitted for consideration by the SEAFDEC Member Countries at the forthcoming SEAFDEC Program Committee Meeting. It is also anticipated that through the implementation of the project activities, countries in Southeast Asia would be better prepared to comply with the requirements for traceability of fish and fishery products that could emerge in the future.