Ocean and Fisheries

The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth’s Oceanic divisions. APEC’s member economies, which line the Pacific Rim, account for 70 per cent of global fish-product consumption, 90 per cent of global aquaculture production, and more than 65 per cent of the world’s capture fisheries. Nine of the top ten fish producers in the world are APEC economies.

This makes APEC an important body when it comes to addressing the economic and social impacts related to the oceans and their bounty.

APEC’s Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) was formed in 2011—it is a merger of working groups that focused separately on marine resource conservation and on fisheries.

The working group is committed to

  • Facilitating trade and investment opportunities that promote the sustainable use of fisheries, aquaculture, and marine ecosystem resources;
  • Ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources as well as protection of marine ecosystems needed to support fisheries and aquaculture; and
  • Promoting a common approach to preventing illegal fishing and related trade.

During a 2014 meeting in Xiamen, China, APEC Ocean and fisheries ministers adopted four priority areas for APEC’s Ocean and Fisheries agenda:

  • 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
  • Cross fora collaboration to expand the Blue Economy—a focus on coasts and oceans as a sustainable driver of economic growth

The Xiamen Declaration committed the forum to conserve at least ten per cent of coastal and marine areas through managed marine protected areas by 2020. 

In November the same year, APEC ministers also adopted a specific annex on Ocean Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Last page update: April 2018

Current Activities

The latest Ocean and Fisheries Working Group Meeting was held on 3-4 March 2018 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where members provided each other with updates on their completed and ongoing initiatives. Respond to Papua New Guinea’s host year theme of “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future”, and specifically to advancing sustainable fisheries management to promote food security.

Projects in 2018

Assessing the Economic Value of Green Infrastructure in Coastal Ecosystems to Disaster Risk Reduction, Response and Coastal Resilience in the APEC region

This study aims to increase understanding as to the value of natural infrastructure to support policymakers in better evaluating the impact of policies regarding green infrastructure development and management with respect to disaster risk reduction and response and coastal resiliency. The first phase of this project started in 2015 with a survey of APEC economies. In 2016 the lead economy, the United States, completed the first deliverable of this project—a gap analysis report based on a literature review and the survey of APEC economies. The report was endorsed by the OFWG in February 2017.  The second phase consists of undertaking an initial assessment of the economic value of natural coastal infrastructure for disaster risk reduction, response and coastal resilience in the APEC region. This study will help address the gaps identified in the first phase and will provide information to better inform policies in APEC economies.

Developing a Best Practice Global Value Chain Framework on Fisheries Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)

The fisheries sector plays a significant role in the socioeconomic growth and development in APEC economies.The global value chain workshop on fisheries MSMES in developing APEC economies looks at analyzing the global value chain (GVC) for fisheries MSMEs in the APEC region to improve competitiveness, enhance market access, increase trade and investments flows, identify challenges and reduce barriers to trade. The project is aligned with the OFWG Strategic Plan, the PPFS Food security agenda, the Boracay Action Agenda to globalize MSMEs and the APEC Iloilo Initiative on Growing Global MSMEs. It is proposed that a best practice global value chain framework to improve competitiveness of the fisheries MSME into the global food value chain is developed. A two-day workshop will be organized in Papua New Guinea in 2018.

Capacity Building for Marine Debris Prevention and Management in the APEC Region Phase 2 – Implementation of Advanced Marine Debris Management Policies 

APEC studies show substantial environmental, economic and social costs of marine debris to APEC economies. The OFWG previously endorsed the need for a systematic capacity building program to address marine debris, and approved the Capacity Building for Marine Debris Prevention and Management in the APEC Region Project in 2016. Phase I of the program discussed the diverse fields of the marine debris issue, to the great interest of APEC members, as shown by the attendance of 15 of the 21 APEC economies. Phase II of the program proposes to take the outcomes of Phase I and establish systemic best-practices training on dealing with marine debris in the APEC region, and to develop regionally appropriate marine debris management policies.  This project aims to build capacities in the APEC region through

  • Sharing best practices of marine debris management policies and
  • Developing a first draft of marine debris management guideline/manual in the APEC region which could be used as a basis for the regional action plan of marine debris management.

The education and training activity will run in five days (including 1 day site visit) in Busan, Korea.

Exchange of Experience to Add Value to Organic Waste from Small-Scale Fisheries and Aquaculture through its Reuse and Conversion into Innovative Products, which Contribute to Enhance Food Security

Small-scale fisheries and aquaculture generate organic waste, which can be reused and converted into new products, such as food preservatives and thickening agents, food containers and products. This can potentially add value to the agriculture sector, contribute to enhancing food security and reduce marine pollution. It also can provide an economic alternative for coastal communities, micro and small enterprises, and women. This project aims to organize a workshop in Chile, which would be carried out in the second semester of 2018.

The APEC Marine Sustainable Development Report 2 will be developed on the foundation of Report 1 and reflect new trends and endeavors of APEC and its member economies in fostering marine sustainable development and in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. A core expert group composed of 11 experts recommended by five economies has been established in 2017 for report development. The 1st workshop on the APEC Marine Sustainable Development Report was convened in November 2017 in Xiamen, in which the core expert group reached consensus on the draft of outline. The outline will be reviewed by the group in 2018. The final report is supposed to be finished in 2019.

Developing an Action Plan on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in APEC 

The scourge and threat of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices is becoming global concern. IUU fishing has negative impacts on fish stocks, the marine ecosystem, distorts global fish trade, and food security. Marine Resources & Fisheries Consultants (2016) estimated the cost of IUU fishing to be between USD10 to USD 23 billion, globally. The study also found that IUU activity in the tuna fisheries is about 306, 440 tones either harvested or transshipped within the region.

It is proposed that a high-level policy dialogue be held for APEC economies to collectively discuss and explore future direction to combat, deter and prevent IUU fishing.

It is proposed that an APEC Action Plan on IUU is developed. The project will take three phases: Phase 1: a short study on the impact of IUU fishing in APEC; Phase 2: a two-day experts workshop to be organized during SOM2 in PNG; and
Phase 3: the one-day policy dialogue to consider the Action Plan developed in SOM3 2018.

Study on the Origin and Distribution of Microplastics in Typical Marine APEC Region

This study aims to investigate the source and distribution of microplastics in within the APEC region. Research will be conducted on the spatial scale—i.e., to investigate where the microplastics come from and where they go—and on the biological scale—to investigate how microplastics transfer and travel through the food chain. The implementation of the project will provide theoretical and practical background information for the pollution control.

Initial sampling, extracting and analyzing in water were done in 2017, as well as examinations of sediments and mussels

In the year of 2018, the work will focus on the distribution of microplastics in sediment along Chinese coast and among different marine filter-feeding animals. An investigation of microplastics would be conducted in several seas and adjacent areas. An international workshop or an exchange program is also being considered.

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Ocean and Fisheries

The OFWG and its predecessor working groups (Marine Resource Conservation and Fisheries) have seen the following Declarations issued at the Ministerial-level:


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Mr PHAM Hoang Tung

Program Director