Brussels, 1 July 2012/ ACP: The Third meeting of the ACP Ministers responsible for fisheries was held in Nadi (Fiji) on18 June 2012, addressing the theme of Partnerships for sustainable development of the fisheries sector in ACP countries.

The meeting provided an opportunity for ACP Ministers for fisheriesto invigorate the ACP Ministerial Fisheries Mechanism by adopting a 5 year Strategic Plan of Action.

The meeting also adopted a set of Resolutions addressing key issues for ACP States in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

At the opening of the Ministerial meeting, ACP Secretary-General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas highlighted the important role of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors for ACP countries. “ACP countries have tremendous potential in the area of fisheries as their coastal ecosystems are among the richest in fishery resources. However, these countries do not have sufficient technical and financial means to exploit these resources so that they can effectively contribute to their development,” he said.

The Strategic Plan of Action sets in place following five strategic Priority areas for future action:

  • Effective Management for Sustainable Fisheries
  • Promoting Optimal Returns from Fisheries Trade
  • Supporting Food Security in ACP Countries
  • Developing Aquaculture
  • Maintaining the Environment

The Plan also sets the scene for developing new partnerships for development, exchange of expertise, and trade.

ACP Assistant Secretary General responsible for Sustainable Economic Development and Trade, Mr Achille Bassilekin IIIprovided some context for the meeting: “The ACP Ministerial Fisheries Mechanism was established at the first meeting of ACP Fisheries Ministers in 2009, and Ministers met for the second time in 2010. With this third meeting we have seen the process mature, especially with the adoption of a five year Strategic Plan of Action for the sectors.”

The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by a meeting of senior fisheries officials, who discussed a range of topical issues in detail, including; the importance of regional collaboration in fisheries management; continuing threats to fisheries, in particular, Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, and piracy; the potential for aquaculture development and adding value to fisheries products, as well as the contribution of fisheries to food security in ACP States.

Officials also focussed on the need for ACP states to develop their own capacity to manage and utilise their own fisheries resources.

The success of the meeting was supported by the excellent arrangements and facilities provided by the host government.