Team of Specialists on Sustainable Fisheries

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Background Information

World fish stocks are being depleted by overfishing, destructive fishing practices and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These activities not only threaten fish stocks, but also the coastal communities which rely on fisheries resources for economic survival and as a reliable source of protein. The importance of protecting fishery resources is recognized by the international community through Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. An essential step to attain effective and sustainable management of fishery resources is timely acquisition and exchange of information on fishing location, gear used, species and quantity caught, etc. Until now, fishing vessels have mainly used paper-based logbooks to record and exchange such information. To improve information acquisition and management, the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has developed an open and global standard which allows the electronic exchange of fishery data. The Fisheries Language for Universal eXchange (FLUX) provides a harmonized message standard which allows Fishery Management Organizations (FMOs) to automatically access electronic data from fishing vessels, such as vessel and trip identification, fishing operations (daily catch or haul-by-haul) and fishing data (catch area, species and quantity, date and time, and gear used). With this standard, FMOs around the world have, for the first time a tool which automates the collection and dissemination of fishery operational data needed for sustainable fishery management and for detecting and combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. In addition, the development of a reliable and up-to-date database on fish catch will improve the knowledge base for sciencebased fisheries management. The UN/CEFACT FLUX standard was presented at the twenty-seventh UN/CEFACT Forum in Geneva, where experts from government, regional and international organizations, regional FMOs, industry, research, and control and enforcement authorities agreed on its importance as a standardized tool to exchange fisheries information in an effective, transparent and efficient manner. At this forum, it was decided that a community should be established to promote and support the implementation of the FLUX standard. The Agricultural, Agri-Food and Fishery Programme Development Area of UN/CEFACT supported and approved this proposal and decided to create a Group of Experts from this community. The establishment of the Group of Experts, now referred to as the Team of Specialists (ToS) on Sustainable Fisheries, was approved by the Executive Committee (EXCOM) of the UNECE in June 2017. At its first formal session in January 2018, the Team of Specialists adopted the Programme of Work for 2018/2019.


The overall objective of the ToS is to contribute to integrated maritime governance by promoting, facilitating and supporting the implementation of fishery data standards on a global scale. The ToS is expected to achieve its overall objective and implement the necessary activities on the assumption that: (a) there is active participation and contribution by experts from governments, academia, civil society and the private sector during meetings of the ToS, and through other relevant networks; (b) Governments are willing to engage in policy dialogue with key stakeholders for sustainable fishery management and take measures to implement policy recommendations and standards; and (c) extra-budgetary resources for capacity-building, advisory services and field projects are adequate. To achieve this goal the ToS will: (a) Actively promote fishery data standards on policy and technical levels; (b) Share experiences on the implementation of fishery data standards; (c) Develop and share best practices on fishery data standards; (d) Advise and assist on implementation issues concerning fishery data standards and how to relate to broader sustainability standards and certification; (e) Propose changes to standards in the Agricultural, Agri-Food and Fishery PDA of UN/CEFACT.

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