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 17th APEC Ocean and fisheries working group meeting
The 17th OFWG Meeting was held virtually from 17 to 18 August 2021, hosted by New Zealand. At the meeting, members presented updates on ongoing projects, and proposed new concept notes for 2021. Members shared progress made in the implementation of the 2019 APEC Roadmap on Marine Debris Management as well as the 2019 Roadmap on Combatting IUU Fishing in order to promote the protection and conservation of the marine environment and the sustainable use of fisheries, aquaculture and ocean ecosystems in the APEC region to ensure long-term economic benefits. The OFWG lead shepherd also highlighted the importance of small-scale fisheries and artisanal fisheries and proposed a new roadmap on the small-scale fisheries.
Capacity-building Workshop on implementation of Port State Measures under the APEC Roadmap on Combatting IUU Fishing (New Zealand)
With the APEC region providing approximately 52 percent of global fisheries catch—an industry which represents a global value of approximately USD 144 billion every year—the sustainability and management of fisheries resources is a top priority for APEC member economies. Considering this, the fact that 20 percent of fish captured globally is lost to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing—which is untaxed and often excessive—is a major concern, and one which warrants concerted attention in the APEC forum. The project identified best practices and innovative approaches which economies could employ to deliver port state measures (PSM) needed to combat IUU. As an implementation activity of the APEC Roadmap on IUU, a two-day workshop on implementation of PSM was held virtually on 21-22 July 2021 by New Zealand, attracting 160 attendees from 17 APEC economies and two international organizations: the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The workshop’s objectives are
- To identify barriers and opportunities being faced by APEC economies in implementing PSM.
- To examine how PSM are able to effectively combat IUU fishing in light of the economic pressures encountered as a result of the global pandemic of Covid-19.
- To develop resources and recommendations for policy settings and capacity building activities which could helpfully be built upon to enhance PSM.
Subsequently, it aimed at raising the awareness of PSM and encouraging economies that had not yet signed up to the PSM Agreement to do so.
Workshop on Promoting Innovative Models in Reducing and Managing Land-based Debris into Oceans for Sustainable Development (Viet Nam)
On 27-28 July 2021, the APEC Workshop on Promoting Innovative Models in Reducing and Managing Land-based Debris into Oceans for Sustainable Development was held virtually by the APEC Ocean and Fisheries Working Group with a view to contributing to the implementation of the APEC Viet Nam 2017 Joint Ministerial Meeting commitments and the APEC Roadmap on Marine Debris, which is aimed at encourage member economies to take voluntary and concrete steps to mitigate the impediments of marine debris to sustainable economic growth in the Asia-Pacific.
The workshop gathered about 200 participants, including representatives of related ministries, agencies, experts, scholars, enterprises from APEC member economies, representatives of APEC Ocean and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) and the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI), and representatives of international organizations such as the World Bank, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Environment Programme, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The main objective of the workshop was to contribute to APEC efforts in protecting our oceans from land-based debris through maximizing the benefits of marine technological innovations as well as advancing the sustainable growth in the region. For that, the project was designed to:
- Build the capacity of economies through sharing experiences and best practices among participants (governments, experts, businesses, global and regional organizations) in harnessing new technologies to address effectively the APEC-wide issue of marine debris
- Develop a set of recommendations to improve waste management measures (e.g., generating – using – recycling and disposing processes; clean-up programs) and prevent the entrance of land-based marine debris into oceans
- Identify cooperation areas and promote collective actions on marine conservation through setting a multistakeholder network among project participants
Developing an APEC Best Practices Framework to Address Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gear (the United States)
Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) is one of the most harmful forms of marine debris, incurring significant economic costs and negatively impacting food security by reducing harvestable fish stocks by 5-30 percent in some fisheries. The project will identify key challenges and capacity development needs associated with addressing ALDFG and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the APEC region. It also aims to build APEC Economies’ capacity to effectively address both issues by increasing regional uptake of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear (VGMFG) and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative® (GGGI)’s Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear (BPF) and engaging fishery management and industry stakeholders through a workshop in Thailand. Project outputs—an APEC-focused ALDFG best practices guide and a compendium on regional gear-marking schemes—will support the implementation of the APEC Roadmap on Combatting IUU Fishing and the APEC Roadmap on Marine Debris.
Guide on Valuing Fishery by-products: Promotion of Sustainable Artisan Activities and Women Empowerment (Chile and Indonesia)
Fishing generates by-products. Heads, skin, and viscera that represent near 30 percent of fish are mostly not used, despite its rich nutritional value. The project proposes to increase the reuse of by-products in coastal communities, creating business to improve their income and quality of life. It will benefit especially women which represent near to 50 percent of this sector and historically collect, fillet and sell the products.
A two-day workshop (including half a day for a field visit) will be held in Indonesia to learn about local experiences. Government officials, artisanal fishers, researchers and academics will participate. A friendly and simple guide containing economic, technological and social information about the projects to facilitate their replication by APEC economies will be also developed.