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FAO's Global Fisheries Management Body Kicks Off Inaugural Meeting

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States' COFI Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management held its first meeting on January 15, 2024. The meeting emphasized on sustainable practices and biodiversity and addresses climate crisis impact.

KJ Staff
The committee aims to provide vital technical and policy guidance on fisheries management.  (Picture Courtesy: fao.org/newsroom)
The committee aims to provide vital technical and policy guidance on fisheries management. (Picture Courtesy: fao.org/newsroom)

The newly formed COFI Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management commenced its first meeting on January 15, 2024, bringing together global leaders to address critical issues in fisheries management. With a focus on sustainable practices, combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and adapting to the climate crisis, the committee aims to secure the livelihoods of over 500 million people globally who rely on fisheries. The meeting also seeks to enhance the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) methodology, ensuring accurate assessments of the state and health of marine fish stocks.

Sustainable Practices for Global Livelihoods

The committee aims to provide vital technical and policy guidance on fisheries management, emphasizing the need to adopt effective approaches for the management of fisheries resources. With a particular focus on small-scale fisheries that support nearly half of the 500 million people dependent on fisheries for their livelihoods, discussions revolve around holistic and sustainable management practices. The committee seeks to foster a comprehensive approach that considers ecological, social, economic, nutritional, and gender objectives, aligning with the FAO's Strategic Framework 2022-31.

Combatting IUU Fishing and Climate Crisis Impact

Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing remains a significant threat to global fisheries. The committee's agenda includes strategies to assess the magnitude and impact of IUU fishing, reviewing monitoring systems, and enforcing compliance with international conservation measures. Additionally, the meeting addresses the critical need to adapt to the climate crisis, sharing lessons on integrating climate resilience into national and multilateral fisheries management. This involves enhancing the adaptive capacity of fisheries operations and assets to ensure long-term sustainability.

Biodiversity Integration and FAO's Blue Transformation Roadmap

Recognizing the importance of biodiversity, the committee discusses integrating biodiversity considerations into fisheries management within the context of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. FAO Director-General QU Dongyu emphasized the Sub-Committee's role in guiding FAO's Blue Transformation roadmap, ensuring efficient management of global fisheries resources in lakes, rivers, and seas. This includes addressing biodiversity degradation impacting aquatic and coastal ecosystems and communities dependent on them, aligning with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Enhancing Fisheries Statistics and Transparency

Members of the committee are set to review methodological updates to FAO's State of Stocks Index (SoSI), a key tool for assessing the health of fish stocks. With FAO being the sole organization mandated to collect such statistics globally, proposed updates aim to enhance transparency, geographical coverage, and measurement accuracy. These improvements intend to better reflect changes in dominant species, stocks, and fisheries practices, aligning with global reporting initiatives and requirements.

COFI's Role

As a Technical Committee of FAO, COFI stands as the only global inter-governmental forum addressing major fisheries and aquaculture problems. With the creation of the Sub-Committee on Fisheries Management, COFI now has a dedicated arm focused entirely on sustainable fisheries management. The inaugural meeting sets the stage for collaborative efforts to tackle challenges, promote biodiversity, and ensure the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the crucial fisheries sector.

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