General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
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General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean

Commission Generale des Peches Pour la Mediterranee

Input for Compilation Document ("Zero Draft") by the

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (GFCM)

The GFCM is a Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) with 24 Members that was established in 1949 under article XIV of the FAO Constitution as an FAO council. It still operates nowadays - after three amendments of the 1949 agreement - and it is part of the UN system. The present document was prepared in response to the invitation from Second Preparatory Committee to provide inputs and contributions in writing by 01/11/2011 "for inclusion in a compilation document to serve as basis for the preparation of zero draft of the outcome document". It has been drafted in accordance with the "Co-Chair's guidance note - Inputs for Compilation Document".

Introductory remarks: The GFCM has a keen interest in participating to the preparatory work of the "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012 in light of the fact that the "UN Conference on Environment and Development" of 1992 represented a watershed event for the conservation of marine living resources. GFCM, as a Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO), has significantly broadened its functions, notably over the last twenty years in response to the 1992 conference with the aim of tackling the challenge of sustainable development. In this respect, the GFCM has been working to bring about - within the remit of its regional mandate - the rationale exploitation of marine captured fisheries as well as sustainable aquaculture. In anticipation of the renewed political commitment to sustainable development by the international community at the "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012, the GFC has set up a Task Force that aims at modernizing the organization. As a result of the Task Force, the GFCM will be better placed to address the three pillars of sustainable development.

General Content: The GFCM agrees that "a focus on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradiction and the institutional framework for sustainable development can help to accelerate progress on the sustainable development agenda", as highlighted in the report of the UN Secretary General (UN doc A/Conf.216/PC/7 of 22/12/2010). Most importantly, the GFCM agrees with the following three main messages identified therein: "improved institutions are crucial to the favourable social outcomes of green economy policies; (g) moving towards a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication is as much about structural change in the institutions governing economies at different levels as about technological change; (h) the reach of the institutional framework for sustainable development has expanded since the watershed Rio Conference, but the lack of coordination and coherence has held back the full potential; addressing this is now overdue." The GFCM would expect to see these messages adequately developed and possibly transposed into policy actions/recommendations at the "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012.

Specific Elements: The "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012 will address global cooperative action for greening key economic sectors. Ocean and sea economy is a result of multiple economic activities, including marine captured fisheries and aquaculture. The sustainable management of oceans and seas, including in relation to marine captured fisheries and aquaculture is therefore essential to achieve the goals of a green economy. These are the sectoral priorities of hte GFCM and have been addressed as follows thus far:

Marine captured fisheries: the GFCM has been focusing on their rationale exploitation via the adoption of measures addressing, inter alia and ex plurimis, fishing capacity, IUU fishing and destructive fishing practices. Recently, the GFCM has put in place a framework to review implementation of these measures in view of their enforcement, in accordance with international obligations under UNCLOS, UNFSA, FAO Compliance Agreement, FAO Code of Conduct, FAO Plans of Action and FAO Agreement of Port State Measures. Also, the GFCM has been facilitating the exchange of knowledge and information among 24 Members in oder to minimize any negative effects of the measures it adopted.

Aquaculture: the promotion of sustainable aquaculture has been a core activity of the GFCM, unlike some other RFMOs whose mandates solely pertain to marine capture fisheries. This has allowed the GFCM to take some stress off the fish stocks it manages. Through its technical specialized committees the GFCM has been considering the elaboration of various indicators (e.g. environmenta, social, etc.) to increase the sustainability of aquacutlure so that it can contribute to market shares of its developing country members.

Because from a development perspective green economy should be conceived as beneficial for both developed and developing countries, the GFCM belives that menas to ensure the implementation of the policies it elaborates, both on marine captured fisheries and aquaculture, should be as even as possible within the remit of its membership. This will require action to bridge further the North-South gap. In this respect though, the report of the abovementioned UN Secretary General has noted that organizations and institutions established by States to deal with environmental issues are the weakest among those belonging to the three pillars of sustainable development. At present, the impacts of the economic crisis are a challenge for all insitutions. With the aim of pursuing an ecosystem approach to fisheries as well as an integrated maritime policy, the GFCM has hence identified as a matter of priority cooperation with other institutions competent for fisheries and environmental matters (e.g. RFMOs and UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan). This course of action, that will contribute to the optimal utilization of existing resources as well as to avoid duplications, is in line with the spirit of the "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012.

Nonetheless, renewed political commitments to the rational exploitation of fisheries as well as to the further promotion of sustainably managed aquaculture at the "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012 would prove exceedingly valuable to teh GFCM. IN this connection, the 2012 conference should provide indications as to how strengthening environmental governance and intra-institutional coordination. This would assist the GFCM in elaborating new frameworks for cooperation with partner organizations dealing with fisheries and environmental matters. Another issue that would help the GFCM in the trasition towards a green economy would be that of establishing funding mechanism to provide technical assistance to developing countries Members. The creation of funds would support the various regional and sub-regional projects that teh GFCM runs to better address the specifities of its area of competence. The "UN Conference on Sustainable Development" of 2012 should also focus on this issue.

Abdellah Srour

GFCM Executive Secretary
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