U.S. Signs Sustainable Fisheries Accord with Southeast Asian Nations

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) today agreed to work together to design and implement activities to enhance food security and biodiversity conservation in Asia and the Pacific.

The memorandum of understanding signed by SEAFDEC Secretary General Chumnarn Pongsri and USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia Director Michael Yates, reflects SEAFDEC’s and USAID’s intention to collaborate in the design, implementation and evaluation of USAID-funded sustainable fisheries activities. In addition, USAID and SEAFDEC plan to engage with other U.S. Government agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Interior, to identify technical experts to assist in the facilitation of the envisioned activities.

“The United States and the countries of Southeast Asia share a common vision of our oceans as global treasures, a source of food and energy, and a foundation for our way of life,” U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney said at the signing ceremony, which coincided with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s June 16-17 “Our Ocean” Conference in Washington, DC. “Our oceans provide jobs and attract tourism. They provide a habitat for countless species. They are vital to our nations’ transportation, economy, and trade, linking us with countries across the globe.”

SEAFDEC comprises Japan and the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. In partnership with USAID, the intergovernmental body will also conduct periodic joint planning exercises and look for ways to leverage resources for effective regional programming and implementation.

“Collaboration with USAID would build upon the existing cooperation between SEAFDEC and the ASEAN Member States by generating technical grounds to support development of science and market-based policy and encourage fishing practices and related activities that would be undertaken in a responsible and sustainable manner, including traceability of fishery products,” said Secretary General Pongsri.

They also intend to convene an ad hoc consultative committee to advance a unified regional, sustainable and responsible fisheries agenda with participation from relevant regional organizations such as ASEAN, the Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security and the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the Region.

According to SEAFDEC, in 2011, Asia’s fishery production accounted for about 70 percent of total global production. Meanwhile, the contribution of the 10 Southeast Asian countries to the world’s total fishery production in 2011 was about 18.8 percent, an increase of 6.7 percent over 2010.