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Fisheries Refugia Guidelines


South China Sea Project Guidelines on Fisheries Refugia The UNEP/GEF Regional Guidelines on the Use of Fisheries Refugia for Capture Fisheries Management in Southeast Asia were published as part of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Regional Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries in Southeast Asia. These guidelines are aimed at provided countries bordering the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand with clear policy support for the development of sustainable fisheries in Southeast Asia. Click the image to the right to access the guidelines.

Background to the Development of the Regional Fisheries Refugia Guidelines

There are very few binding and non-binding international instruments addressing fisheries issues in Southeast Asia perhaps the most significant of which is the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, to which most Southeast Asian countries are signatory and which provides guidance regarding the minimization of bycatch, the use of environmentally friendly fishing gear, and the creation of institutional arrangements for fisheries management.

International concern for overexploitation of fisheries resources and environmental problems caused by fishing practices, resulted in the 1992 Declaration of Cancun calling upon the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to develop an International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing. At the same time, FAO had identified a need for a guiding mechanism for use in closing the gap between government resolutions at the international level and effective implementation at the national level. In response, the Conference of the FAO adopted the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). The CCRF is global in scope, consistent with relevant fisheries related instruments, applicable to all fisheries (including aquaculture) and voluntary in nature, being a non-binding international instrument. It provides principles and standards applicable to the conservation, management and development of all fisheries. These include:

  • The conservation of aquatic ecosystems,
  • Sustainable utilisation,
  • The prevention of overfishing and excess fishing capacity,
  • The use of the best scientific knowledge,
  • The application of the precautionary approach,
  • The use of selective and environmentally friendly fishing gear and practices,
  • The maintenance of biodiversity and aquatic ecosystems,
  • The protection of critical habitats in marine ecosystems,
  • The strengthening of flag state control of fishing vessels, and
  • Cooperation at sub-regional, regional and global levels

Since adoption of the CCRF, the FAO has prepared a series of technical guidelines providing direction for the implementation of the code at the regional and national levels. These guidelines cover specific areas of the substantive articles of the Code, including fisheries management, fishing operations, the precautionary approach, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, sustainability indicators, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The CCRF also prescribes for the establishment of voluntary international plans of action (IPOAs) to deal with specific fisheries issues.

ASEAN-SEAFDEC Regional Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries in Southeast Asia

Effective implementation of the CCRF in Southeast Asian fisheries may enable the development of sustainable fisheries, although requires that sufficient consideration be given to the unique fisheries and issues that exist within the region. This is especially the case for the multi-species coastal and small-scale fisheries that are of central importance to the livelihoods and food security of most coastal communities, and for which well designed management interventions have the greatest capacity to influence the quality of life of coastal populations in the region.

In this connection, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), in collaboration with the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has been promoting the regionalisation of the CCRF. A valuable outcome of this process is a 4-set package of Regional Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries in Southeast Asia (RGRFSA), which is comprised of four publications: (1) Responsible Fishing Operations; (2) Responsible Aquaculture; (3) Responsible Fisheries Management; and (4) Responsible Post-harvest Practices and Trade. The objectives of the RGRFSA are to:

  • Clarify the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF),
  • Identify and prioritise the required actions,
  • Identify the issues that require special consideration in the regional context,
  • Facilitate the formulation of regional policies to enable the implementation of the CCRF in the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and to
  • Facilitate the formulation and implementation by the ASEAN Member Countries of national codes of practice for responsible fisheries management.

This package was expanded by SEAFDEC in 2006 to provide regional guidelines on co-management using group user rights, fishery statistics, indicators, and fisheries refugia.

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