The 36th Session of the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) has wrapped up the first of its three-day biennial session, convened in its first all-virtual format, amid ongoing uncertainties created within fishery-food supply chains caused by the global pandemic.
In opening the Commission Session, the Director-General of the Department of Fisheries of the Royal Thai Government noted that the onset of COVID-19 had placed a tremendous impact on the world’s socio-economic situation in all regions, in particular, the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
“The whole supply chain from farms or nets to plate is seriously affected,” said Mesak Pakdeekong. “Alongside food hygiene and safety concerns, there are also issues related to labour in fisheries, fisheries monitoring, and surveillance as well as in trade and marketing. The Asia-Pacific region is a global hub of fish production, but adaptation to cope with the current situation is challenging and we must focus on the use of technologies and innovations for the development and enhancement of effectiveness in aquatic animal production,” he said.
Aquaculture, innovation, inland fisheries
In opening the regional Commission Session, Jong-Jin Kim, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, noted that the Session would further guide the Commission in its function as a regionally owned body advocating and raising awareness of the fishery and aquaculture sectors, a task more important now than ever.
The main objective of the 36th Session of APFIC is to provide its Members with an opportunity to review activities within the framework of the Commission and allow discussion of inter-sessional activities. The Members will provide recommendations on aquaculture innovations, knowledge sharing and capacity development within the APFIC region, as well as assess sustainable management of marine and inland fisheries.
The Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission is committed to acting as a regional consultative forum, providing Member countries, regional organizations and fisheries professionals in the region with the opportunity to review and discuss the challenges facing the region’s fisheries sector and helping them decide on the most appropriate actions to take.
The virtual session, while not ideal, offered an opportunity for more delegates to participate in a more cost-effective manner than an in-person conference, given the vast size of the region and number of countries that are Members (17 Members, participating at this Session together with two observer countries and five regional organizations for a total of 90 registered delegates).
Asia-Pacific’s fish and aquaculture – feeding a hungry world, sustaining livelihoods of millions
The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s largest producer of fish. By weight, more than 50 percent of the world’s catch of marine and river fish and 89 percent of global aquaculture comes from the Asia-Pacific region. Eight of the top ten aquaculture producing countries in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region and inland fisheries in the region account for 68 percent of total world inland fishery production.
The fisheries and aquaculture sectors are important contributors to the food security, livelihoods and income of rural and coastal populations. About 90 percent of fishers and fish farmers in the region are small scale, highlighting the impact of the sector at the local scale. Some 93 percent of people employed in aquaculture and fisheries worldwide are located in Asia.