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FAO endorses First-ever Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture at COFI34

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34th Session of the FAO Committee on FisheriesDuring the 34th Session of UN’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Committee on Fisheries (COFI 34) which took place virtually from February 1-5, 2021, members of the session supported the first-ever Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries & Aquaculture.

  • The declaration calls for Strong action to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and emphasized on the importance of recovering from impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • COFI 34 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (adopted in 1995) which is a key instrument guiding the drive towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture around the world.
  • It outlines a global vision for Fisheries and Aquaculture and highlights the sector’s contributions in fighting poverty, hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
  • The declaration will be key to implementing the 2030 Agenda and making agri-food systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable. 

i.IUU Fishing:

During the COFI34, members agreed for greater monitoring and transparency in fishing operations and emphasized the need to combat IUU fishing. 

  • The members were urged to become signatory to FAO Agreement on Port State Measure (PSMA) for combating IUU fishing.
  • During the event, Russia became a signatory to the PSMA joining already existing 68 FAO members.
  • FAO stated that it would strengthen its USD 20 Million Global Capacity Development Programme for helping countries in increasing their capacity to implement the PSMA and other international instruments.

FAO’s Report on Impact of COVID-19 on Fishing Sector:

The report ‘The impact of COVID-19 on fisheries and aquaculture food systems Possible Responses’ released by FAO in November, 2020 was discussed during COFI 34 session.

  •   Global fisheries and Aquaculture have been hit hard by COVID-19.
  • The fishing sector may face disruptions in 2021 due to lockdowns which may affect the supply and demand.
  • The pandemic has affected fisheries and aquaculture sector by changing consumer demands, market access and logistical problems related to transportation and border restrictions.
  • Due to pandemic, the global aquaculture production is expected to fall by around 1.3% which is the first fall in several years.
  • Due to COVID-19, consumer preferences have also changed, the demand for fresh fish has decreased, consumer demand for packaged and frozen products has increased as people are stocking up non-perishable foods.

International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2022:

  • The members of the session also noted that data collection needs to be improved in the fisheries sector for supporting evidence-based decision making, for support of small-scale fisheries. 
  • The role of small-scale fishers & Women will be celebrated during the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2022 by FAO.  

2020 SOFIA Report 

The 2020 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report was also discussed during the meeting, it states that total fish production will increase to 204 million tonnes in 2030, which is an increase of 15% from 2018.

  • It also stated that Aquaculture is the fastest expanding food production sector during the last decades and is expected to grow at an average of 5.3% per year since 2000.

COFI session (COFI35):

  • The next COFI session (COFI35) is set to be held from September 5-9 in 2022.

COFI:

  • The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) is a subsidiary body of the FAO Council established by FAO Conference in 1965.
  • It is the only intergovernmental forum where members of FAO discuss and review issues related to fisheries and aquaculture.
  • The two main functions of COFI are:

–To review the programmes of work of FAO in the field of fisheries and aquaculture, and their implementation;

–To conduct periodic general reviews of fishery and aquaculture problems of an international character and appraise such problems and their possible solutions with a view to concerted action.

Recent Related News:

i.June 6, 2020, UN annually observes June 5 as the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated(IUU) fishing to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries to stop the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

ii.July 2, 2020, In accordance with the report “Annual Marine Fish Landings in India for 2019” by CMFRI, India’s marine fish production increased marginally by 2.1% to 3.56 million tonnes (mt) in 2019 as compared to 3.49 mt in 2018.

About Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
Director General– Qu Dongyu
Headquarters– Rome, Italy