Posted on 15 May 2014
Evaluation of options for a consultative forum of the LRFFT in the Coral Triangle region and adjacent areas. A report prepared for WWF by Antony D. Lewis.
The development and expansion of the live reef food fish trade (LRFFT) during the 1980s and 1990s have been well documented as have most aspects of the trade which is economically significant for three of the CT 6 countries, worth in excess of $800 million (WWF, 2009). The regional trade is believed to have peaked in volume terms, in 1997 at around 50,000 tonnes, but since then is believed to have declined to around 30,000 tonnes annually (Sadovy et al). Recorded imports into Hong Kong are estimated at 15-20,000 tonnes annually, and until recently, with as much as 60% of this being re-exported to southern mainland China from where it is distributed to major cities throughout China. There is a high likelihood of demand exceeding supply and this possibility of scarcity may drive a new wave of expansion.
There have been numerous efforts, principally led by non-government agencies, to coordinate the gathering and sharing of LRFFT information, and the promotion of collaboration through regional consultative forums and coordinated whole-of-supply chain interventions. Several decades of intervention in the LRFFT have not assured sustainability nor contained threats to LRFTT.
The CTI Regional Plan of Action in 2009 listed, as a regional action, “establishing a CTI Forum on management of, and international trade in, coral-reef based organisms”. This regional action has shifted more specifically to the live reef food fish trade (LRFFT).
In summary the study recommends as follows:
- that the RFMO model is not an appropriate model for the consultative regional forum at this time for a variety of reasons relating to time, commitment and resources required to develop and enter into force the necessary legal Convention as its foundation, the complexity of the LRFFT itself and the number of functional issues to be resolved before an RFMO could be considered. Reassurance would also need to be provided concerning the extent of high level commitment and political will necessary to support the RFMO model going forward;
- that the momentum generated to convene an inaugural forum in the “regional advisory body with Secretariat” format needs to be maintained, with SEAFDEC proceeding to be proactive in “drafting the roadmap, developing the terms of reference (ToR), and identifying the organizational requirements of the Forum”, assuming that an MoU between CTI-CFF Secretariat and SEAFDEC will be approved and appropriate instruments of cooperation signed at the 10th SOM held in May 2014;
- that the national fora envisioned as key components of the consultative forum process should be scoped and developed as soon as possible, preferably initiated in the first half of 2014, and possibly involving Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia in the first instance. These fora may have local groupings as required; and
- that the first regional forum be convened before the end of 2014, following all necessary approvals for partnership agreements, TOR, structure and functions, with national fora also having been convened and providing initial input to the first regional forum.