Fisheries provide a vital source of food and nutrition, employment, trade, economic well-being and recreation, with One-billion people in the world depending upon seafood for their primary source of protein. In fact, as the largest traded food commodity in the world, seafood provides sustenance to billions of people worldwide. However, due to the increasing global population and the rise in demand for fisheries products, this sector is facing a wide range of challenges, including inter alia: overfishing; marine pollution; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and over-exploitation.
Given the importance of this sector, proper management of fisheries resources is urgently needed to ensure the sustainable growth of fisheries sector in the Indian Ocean Rim. Protection and conservation of marine environment is also of equal importance, to minimize potential ecological and social impacts. Additionally, improvements in postharvest processing, storage and preservation are essential to reduce fish losses and to meet the growing demand.
The importance of this sector was also highlighted at the First IORA Leaders’ Summit, held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 5-7 March 2017, Heads of State and/or Government made several commitments under IORA priority sectors, including fisheries management. More specifically, the Leaders committed to “Promote sustainable and responsible fisheries management and development”, for example through “enhancing science-based management and conservation of marine living resources, including through supporting and strengthening the work of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), and enhancing regional and international mechanism to combat IUU fishing”, among others.
In view of initiating, developing, discussing, coordinating and monitoring fisheries management cooperation in the IORA region, Indonesia is taking the lead to establish the IORA Cluster Group on Fisheries Management (CGFM), which comprise of 10 members namely: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Oman, Tanzania, Thailand and the Fisheries Support Unit (FSU). The role of the CGFM would be to promote sustainable fishing practices through guidelines, to identify fisheries-related cooperation areas to be included in its Work Plan to be implemented by Member States and to report and provide updates on the status of fisheries management cooperation to the IORA Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) and the Council of Ministers (COM).
As a first step toward this important initiative, Indonesia, as the Lead Coordinator of the CGFM, will be hosting the First Virtual Meeting of the Cluster Group on Fisheries Management (CGFM) on 23 June 2020 with its members, namely: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Oman, Tanzania, Thailand, and the Fisheries Support Unit (FSU). This meeting will be the first platform whereby the Members of the CGFM will discuss on the wayforward for advancing sustainable development in the fisheries sector in IORA. The CGFM’s Terms of Reference and its Work Plan will also be the centre of discussion during the meeting.
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