by H.E. Imron Cotan
Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
At the Opening Session of
“Regional Consultation for the Identification of
Technical Assistance Needs of Tsunami
Affected Coastal Fishing Communities”
Medan , 7 February 2006
Distinguished Representatives of CFC and INFOFISH,
Distinguished Participants and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to join this opening ceremony of an important Regional Consultation for the Identification of Technical Assistance Needs of Tsunami Affected Coastal Fishing Communities. At the outset, allow me, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, to welcome you all, participants of this regional consultation, to Indonesia and to Medan particularly. I should also like to extend our profound appreciation and gratitude to all parties involved in the excellent arrangement made for this consultation, particularly to CFC, INFOFISH and NAM CSSTC, who have contributed significantly to this joint endeavour.
Our regional consultation is a response to the urgent needs of the tsunami affected countries for rehabilitation assistance in the fisheries sector. As a matter of fact, the coastal community is one of the most affected by the tsunami. Damage to the fisheries industry was also very severe in all the five affected countries. In the province of Aceh and Nias Island, Indonesia, locations closest to the epicenter of the quake and hence the most affected areas, over 80% of the small scale fishing canoes and over 70% of the total fishing fleet has been destroyed. Most of the nearly 1000 marine-culture farms, mostly producing sea-bass, located in the affected area has also suffered severe damage, including the Brackish water Aquaculture Center at Ujung Batee, Aceh.
I believe that this situation is also faced by other affected countries in the region. Therefore, Indonesia took the initiative to conduct this regional consultation, fully supported by CFC, a competent international organization in providing support for the development of fishery commodity. This consultation is also a follow-up action of the special Ministerial Meeting of FAO in Rome, in March 2005. The meeting was attended by 121 Fisheries Ministers and senior officials, and adopted a Joint Declaration underlining the importance of rehabilitating and restoring the livelihoods of fishers and fish farmers, as well as providing them with protection from future natural disasters and other environmental threats.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are very much encouraged by the presence of competent experts and participants from tsunami affected countries as well as donors from different countries and institutions. This collaborative effort reflects a common interest and our shared commitment to assist the fishing communities affected by tsunami. We have to maximize the use of our resources, knowledge and skills to jointly overcome the tsunami impacts in a proper manner.
Furthermore, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in fisheries sector should not only be focused on the replacement of damaged assets, but also in capacity building of the fishermen so that they would be able to improve their capacity in their work. This element of capacity building is essential for achieving a better social economic condition of the affected fisheries communities.
Rehabilitation effort should also assess the medium-long term needs in fishery sector and pattern of trade development. In all the countries affected, damage to fisheries has directly or indirectly had a negative effect on domestic and international trade in fish and fishery products.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am confident that this regional consultation will be able to identify and discuss different problems and needs of tsunami affected fishing communities, so that we could formulate appropriate recommendations to provide necessary assistance for fisheries sector. The regional consultation should also be followed-up with concrete actions in the respective affected countries, as well as within the framework of regional co-operation. In this regard, the role of donors is crucial in providing required support and funds.
I wish you all a successful deliberations and productive sharing process during the next three days.
Finally, I declare this regional consultation is officially opened.