APEC’s Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) was formed in 2011, following a decision to merge the former Marine Resource Conservation and Fisheries working groups (in operation since 1990 and 1991 respectively).

OFWG is committed to:

  • Exchange information and help foster institutional capacity building in a focused regional setting;
  • Advance discussions and the development of solutions for common resource management problems and share best practices;
  • Develop projects, which will be managed and evaluated by the Working Group according to Leaders’ and Ministers’ directives;
  • Develop a regional approach with improved coordination for the implementation of various instruments (e.g. International Plans of Action);
  • Facilitate trade and investment opportunities that promote the sustainable use of fisheries, aquaculture, and marine ecosystem resources;
  • Cooperate and partner with other APEC working groups, international organizations, and the private sector where interests intersect;
  • Ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources as well as protection of marine ecosystems needed to support fisheries and aquaculture; and
  • Promote a common approach to preventing illegal fishing and related trade.

APEC’s focus on oceans and fisheries issues is natural, given that APEC members account for over 80 percent of global aquaculture production and more than 65 percent of the world’s capture fisheries. The consumption of fishery products in the APEC region is 65 percent higher than the world average. Moreover, APEC economies represent nine of the top ten fish producers in the world. Further information is available in the report Harvesting Currency: the Importance of Fisheries and Aquaculture for APEC Economies..

 

Source: Employment figures based on data from The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In November 2014, APEC Leaders welcomed the Xiamen Declaration issued at the Fourth APEC Oceans Ministerial Meeting, and instructed Ministers and officials to fully implement it. They also acknowledged the Xiamen Declaration’s statement on the Blue Economy and welcomed the APEC Marine Sustainable Development Report. They encouraged the OFWG to work with other APEC fora to advance Blue Economy cooperation. In addition, the APEC Ministers also adopted a specific annex on Ocean Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The OFWG held two meetings in 2015 and the meeting summaries can be seen here and here.

Current Activities

New Framework for Oceans Cooperation            

APEC Oceans Ministers met in Xiamen, China on 28 August 2014 and outlined a new framework for Asia-Pacific ocean cooperation which was endorsed in the Xiamen Declaration. Recognizing the increasing fragility of the marine coastal environment and depletion of fishing stocks, the Ministers’ statement detailed measures to establish a more integrated and sustainable ocean partnership in the region.

The Xiamen Declaration focused on cooperation across four main areas: coastal and marine ecosystem conservation and disaster resilience; the role of the ocean on food security and food-related trade; marine science, technology and innovation, and blue economy. APEC Ocean Ministers committed to conserve at least ten per cent of coastal and marine areas through managed marine protected areas by 2020. 

The Xiamen declaration is available here, documents from the meeting here, and photos here. The news release can also be found here.

The 3rd Blue Economy Forum

The 3rd Blue Economy Forum was held prior to the APEC Oceans-related Ministerial Meeting in Xiamen. The OFWG views blue economy as an approach to advance sustainable management and conservation of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems and sustainable development, in order to foster economic growth.

The Blue Economy Forum involved key stakeholders such as the private and public sector as well as local communities on how to advance the blue economy in the region. The policy dialogue focused on deepening the understanding of the policies and needs of the private sector in order to promote sustainable ocean practices. Leveraging marine science and technology, such as marine spatial planning to balance both conservation and harvesting of ocean resources, was also a priority.

Marine Sustainable Development Report

The first APEC report on marine sustainable development was published in September 2014 and provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of marine sustainable development in the APEC region as well as a review of the progress made so far, and highlights challenges. With the Asia-Pacific accounting for approximately 45 per cent of the world's coral reefs, suggestions for promoting marine sustainable development in the region include scaling up best practices of ecosystem-based management, maintaining and improving ocean health, integrating fisheries and marine resources into food security, and enhancing disaster risk reduction and resilience, among others.

Projects in 2015

Three projects were approved in 2014 (see below) while one project has recently been approved in principle in 2015.

Preparedness, Response and Assessment of Oil Spill (PRAOS) in the APEC Region, Phase I

In order to reduce the impact of oil spill incidents in the APEC Region, this project will: 1) share experience in marine oil pollution incidents among the APEC members and conduct on-site education and training program for related stakeholders especially for developing economies that lack infrastructure and expertise; 2) share information about the resources that are available to assist economies with the environmental impact assessment in oil pollution; 3) provide technical assistance to develop an operation manual for economies lacking effective oil spill prevention programs and response procedures; and 4) and develop APEC regional collaborative measures against oil pollution incidents.

Workshop on the Climate Change Impact on the Oceans and Fisheries Resources: Ensuring Adaptation, Food Security and Sustainability, and Mitigation on Fisheries including Aquaculture

This project will: 1) share experiences and knowledge accumulated through scientific research as well as success stories of innovative measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change on ocean and fisheries related activities especially for ocean-dependent communities’ activities and products for their livelihoods, and establish a coordinated framework for this sharing; and 2) strengthen policy coherence and development of comprehensive preparedness on ocean and fisheries related activities in the approach to climate change adaptations, especially in vulnerable small-scale and artisanal communities. See the publication from the Workshop here.

Assessing the Economic Value of Green Infrastructure in Coastal Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction and Response, and Coastal Resilience

Coastal zones have been providing a multitude of services to APEC economies. Nevertheless, assessing the economic values of these coastal services is difficult because of its intangible outputs. The world’s coastal ecosystems is estimated to contribute around US$25 trillion to the global economy each year. Therefore, distilling information on the economic benefits of coastal ecosystems at the regional, national, and local levels would be salient for local policy and management decisions related to disaster risk reduction and response, and coastal resilience. In this study, APEC will be assessing the economic value that green infrastructure in coastal ecosystems can provide for disaster risk reduction and response, and coastal resilience in the APEC region.

Achievements

The OFWG and its predecessor working groups (Marine Resource Conservation and Fisheries) have seen the following Declarations issued at the Ministerial-level:

-       Seoul Oceans Declaration of 2002

-       Bali Plan of Action of 2005

-       Paracas Declaration and Action Agenda of 2010

-       Xiamen Declaration of 2014

-       APEC Ocean Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region of 2014

 

Completed Projects

Publications 

- APEC Workshop on the Climate Change Impact on Oceans and Fisheries Resources

- Marine Ecosystem Assessment and Management in the Asia-Pacific Region Phase III –Pilot APEC Large Marine Ecosystems

- APEC Marine Sustainable Development Report

- Report for Workshop on Satellite Data Application for Sustainable Fishery Support in APEC 

For more information on previous years’ publications, click here.

Contacts

Asis G. Perez ()
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Department of Agriculture
PCA Building Elliptical Road Diliman Quezon City, the Philippines
Email: perezasis@yahoo.com; dobfarco@yahoo.com
Carmecita Tocino (Mrs)
Lead Shepherd's Office
Email: menchiedtocino@yahoo.com
Kartika HANDARUNINGRUM (Ms)
Email: kh@apec.org