The fourth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting (AOMM4) ended in China’s Xiamen on August 28, 2014. All participating ministers jointly issued the “Xiamen Declaration” after the meeting, stressing that all economies should establish a new international marine partnership through Asia Pacific regional cooperation. Totally 19 APEC members sent delegations to attend the meeting, including Australia, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Taiwan delegation was led by Chen Bao-ji, Minister of the Council of Agriculture (COA), and composed of scholars and experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Environmental Protection Administration and Fisheries Agency.
The COA noted that Minister Chen was invited to deliver a speech about the role of the ocean on global food security. He firstly emphasized that one of the basic services provided by the ocean for mankind is aquatic products. According to the statistics of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the production of global fisheries grows steadily. Over the past 50 years, the annual supply of edible fish grows by 3.2%, over the world’s population growth rate of 1.6%. Between 2007 and 2012, however, capture fishery sector was stuck between 89.1 million tons and 93.7 million tons without further increase. FAO data show the current state of the world’s marine fishery resources that 90% of them have been overdeveloped and fully developed. Therefore, the use of marine fishery resources has been facing bottlenecks. It is noteworthy that during the same period, the supply of farmed aquatic products increased from 49.9 million tons to 66.6 million tons, which shows a steady growth trend. FAO and the World Bank forecast that the supply of farmed aquatic products will surpass that of captured aquatic products in 2030, which shows the importance of fish farming industry (Aquaculture) development.
Minister Chen further explained that the use of marine fishery resources has been faced with bottlenecks. Marine and coastal resources can be preserved and sustained by improving the management of fishing capacity, strengthening the fight against illegal fishing, protecting the marine environment, decreasing marine pollutions and reducing pre-harvest food losses. In addition, to increase the fish species suitable for artificial farming can reduce the pressure of using wildlife resources, particularly those wild fish species in the face of depletion, such as tuna, eel, shrimp and grouper. Hence, the development of fish farming industry (Aquaculture) plays a significant role in the conservation of wild fishery resources. Therefore, Minister Chen believed that the future development of fish farming industry (Aquaculture) should focus on science, technology and innovation, which make possible completely artificial farming. The goal is to increase the number of farmed fish, develop multi-layer mixed farming technology, prevent diseases and strengthen traceability of seafood security.
Finally, Minister Chen said that the role of the ocean becomes increasingly important on global food security. In terms of sustainable development and assurance of food security, both capture fishery and fish farming industries should strengthen international cooperation in fishery management, innovation of farming technology, protection of the marine environment, and flow of aquatic products through free trade integration.
The COA added that the “Xiamen Declaration” jointly announced in the ministerial meeting, mainly has four issues, including “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,” under the theme “Towards New Partnership through Ocean Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region.” The Declaration includes the following key points:
1. In view of the fact that coastal and marine ecosystems provide foundations for sustainable economic growth, the Declaration suggests to integrate partnerships in the Asia Pacific region to address the cumulative impacts on the marine environment. For instance, intend to scale up ecosystem-based management approaches and programs, both domestically and regionally, by implementing conservation and management measures and tools including Marine Protected Areas Networking, Marine Spatial Planning, integrated water resources management, land-sea integration and Integrated Coastal Management, to restore ocean and coastal health while optimizing sustainable coastal and ocean use.
2. Sustainable resources of marine food can not only support food security but also promote regional economic integration, strengthen human security, and boost sustainable and suitable management of the environment. The Declaration calls all APEC members to take the necessary measures, including through regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements, as appropriate, to maintain or restore all fish stocks. Moreover, all should strengthen partnerships on a bilateral and multilateral basis to prevent, stop and combat illegal, unreported and Illegal,Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
3. The Declaration encourages APEC members to take steps to facilitate the conduct of joint marine scientific research, to advance science, technology and innovation through sharing of data and information, scientific knowledge, technology dissemination, and capacity building projects, based upon mutually agreed terms and conditions.
4. Recognizing the potential linkages between Blue Economy, sustainable development and economic growth, particularly the close linkage to ocean and coastal conservation efforts, innovative development, and economic reform and growth, the Declaration encourages APEC members to promote mutual contacts and exchanges through policy dialogue and public-private partnerships.
In addition, the meeting adopted our proposal to add the “Strengthening Public-Private Partnership to Reduce Food Losses in the Supply Chain,” a long-term research executed by the COA under the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), into the Declaration, and particularly emphasized cooperation in terms of livestock and aquatic products in 2015.
The COA stated that Taiwan has always been actively participating in various APEC meetings and related activities, enhancing international collaborations of fisheries and marine resources conservation. During the period of ministerial meeting, Taiwan delegation interacted well with other countries and had bilateral meetings with ministers and senior officials from different countries, such as the United States, Japan and the host country China. We fully expressed our stands, concerns and devotions to the international community, and received positive responses from major countries. In terms of our international fisheries cooperation and participation in APEC and other international organizations, this time we did move a great step forward.