APEC’s Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) was formed in 2011, following a decision to merge the Marine Resource Conservation and the Fisheries working groups (in operation since 1990 and 1991, respectively).
The OFWG’s mission is to support APEC’s mission to foster sustainable economic growth, development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The OFWG works to facilitate free and open trade in the region and promotes the sustainable use of fisheries, aquaculture, and marine ecosystem resources and related goods and services. The OFWG will promote cooperation among its members, governments, academia, private industry, and regional and international organizations to advance this process.
The OFWG is committed to
- Take continued action to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, build capacity to address the negative impacts of IUU fishing on APEC Economies, sustainable fisheries, food security, and continue enacting measures to combat IUU through further implementation of the Roadmap on Combatting IUU fishing
- Encourage the development of tools to assess and address the physical and economic impacts of marine litter, marine debris, and ghost fishing gear on APEC economies, fisheries, and the marine environment through the progress made in the implementation plan for the Roadmap on Marine Debris
- Take action to implement initiatives that contribute to the resilience and sustainability of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in APEC Economies, including support for COVID-19 recovery, fisheries and aquaculture supply chains, the livelihood of communities, and food security
- Make the aquaculture and fisheries sectors more resilient to climate change and mitigate their contribution to climate change through advancement of conservation and sustainable management regimes
- Promote continued activities within APEC which are consistent with the common view of the blue economy as agreed at the 3rd OFWG Meeting in 2014
- Enhance cooperation with relevant public and private stakeholders, including through participation in OFWG initiatives and communication of OFWG materials
- Recognize the importance of the role played by women in fisheries and aquaculture
- Recognize the common challenges faced by the agriculture sector, particularly relative to food security
The 19th APEC Ocean and fisheries working group meeting
The 19th OFWG meeting was held virtually on 17-18 August 2022, hosted by Thailand. Under the leadership of the newly selected Lead Shepherd, 21 OFWG members actively engaged in the discussion of updating the implementation plans of the 2019 APEC Roadmap on Marine Debris Management and the 2019 Roadmap on Combatting IUU Fishing. The two roadmap sub-working groups, led by the US and Chile, respectively, will submit revised implementation plans prior to the 20th OFWG meeting in 2023. The OFWG also discussed the Small-scale Fisheries and Aquaculture (SSFA) roadmap, which was adopted in February 2022 and which shared members’ recent activities in the areas of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture. In addition, outcomes of 16 projects and initial ideas for four potential projects were shared with members.
Workshop on Nanoplastics in Marine Debris (United States)
The December 2021 APEC Workshop on Nanoplastics in Marine Debris was a technical and programmatic workshop on micro- and nanoplastics implications and mitigation research. The workshop was held as a virtual meeting due to COVID-related travel restrictions. The objectives of the workshop were to:
- Share best practices for identifying, characterizing, assessing risk from, and reducing or remediating nanoscale plastic waste
- Leverage scientific resources and contribute to the development of alternate technologies, products, capabilities, and facilities; build capacity across APEC economies by sharing existing knowledge in this emerging field
- Initiate a draft framework for addressing short- and long-term issues associated with micro- and nanoplastics in the environment
The event helped to build understanding across the APEC region of the scope of the problem of micro- and nanoplastics in marine debris, and measures that are being taken now and which could be taken in the future to address the problem. It included sessions on best practices and research methods for the collection and characterization of micro- and nanoplastics from the environment; environmental and human exposure, potential effects, and mixtures toxicology; terminology, nomenclature, and harmonized methods; strategies for mitigation, remediation, and recycling; current and proposed regulations; and specific approaches for nanoplastics.
There were 230 participants from 19 APEC member economies, including policymakers; program managers from research, funding, and regulatory agencies; industry representatives; and scientists. Participants learned from each other’s experiences and shared information and ideas on ongoing and planned projects, which will inform future efforts and international collaboration. The workshop helped to spark the creation of a community of researchers and policymakers across the APEC region dedicated to addressing this problem. It is hoped that this community will continue to grow, with possible follow-on events and collaborations. The project supported the implementation of the APEC Roadmap on Marine Debris, which significantly benefitted working groups addressing this issue across APEC.
The final workshop report is posted on the APEC and workshop websites. In addition, a capacity building video on some of the isolation and characterization methodologies for microplastics from marine debris was produced in association with the workshop and is available on both the OFWG and workshop websites.
Webinar on Capacity Building on Marine Debris Management and Monitoring from Source as River is the Major Transport Pathway (Malaysia)
Marine debris is a global pollution concern faced by many local communities in member economies. As rivers are major pathways for the transportation of marine litter from land to the marine environment, this project will be focusing on capacity building on marine debris management and monitoring from the source, with the river as the major transport pathway. Capacity building through the empowerment of communities, particularly government officers, is an important component in reducing, managing and monitoring marine debris to promote sustainable development.
The main aim of this project is to develop the capacity building on marine debris management and monitoring from the source, with the river as the major transport pathway, among member economies.
A four-day webinar and a focus group discussion will be conducted in October 2022 with selected government officers from member economies, with the aim of assisting knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices by key experts in highly relevant topics in marine debris management and monitoring.