Dodwell's blog on SOM2 in Boracay - Post 2

May 14, 2015

The bruising battle to get into Boracay is now well behind me, and the dusty, bohemian warmth of the island has softened everyone’s edges – in spite of the best efforts of the key hotel – the Crown Regency – to scupper the party. The first big working group out of the blocks – the Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) – took the brunt of this, with floundering internet distracting everyone’s attention.
One gets the sense that the OFWG’s time has come. Three years ago, when I first poked my nose into a meeting, it seemed a ramshackle affair, unfocused, and unnoticed. But since 2013 when Indonesia first introduced the “Blue Economy” to us ignoramuses, the activities of the group have been transformed. China last year kept its agenda well in focus, well driven by the Oceanographic institute in Xiamen. But we have now moved into a five year “golden era” were every APEC host has oceans and fisheries as a high priority – from the Philippines this year, to Peru next year, Vietnam in 2017, PNG in 2018 and Chile in 2019.
The OFWG Action Agenda drafted painstakingly over this week, is to provide the framework for its activity. At present, main focus is on clamping down on illegal and unregulated fishing. The tricky issue of subsidies to fishing communities still sits pregnantly untackled, but predictably – given the Philippine priority given to inclusiveness – the challenges facing coastal fishing communities is receiving keen attention.
Perhaps most important, links with the Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) have been cemented by making the same person chairman of both. This has made discussions more strategic. OFWG and PPFS are sitting back to back, so it is easier for officials to attend both. I expect interesting and important initiatives to emerge from OFWG over the rest of the decade.


[ Back ]