• ‘Blue economy’ plan backed

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    The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will further undertake measures to help ensure food, nutrition and the development of the blue economy across the region, where some 25 percent of the world’s hungry people live.

    APEC economic leaders who met in Metro Manila this week decided on the move, noting the measures are essential in building resilient communities and promoting socio-economic development in the region.

    “We therefore instruct ministers to implement the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy Plan of Action in the areas of resilient oceans and coastal resources, fish loss reduction and agri-business development,” they said in a declaration after the meeting.

    The declaration outlines initiatives aligned with the 2015 APEC theme ‘Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.’

    According to APEC, the blue economy “refers to a developmental approach anchored on sustainable development and utilization of marine resources and ecosystems in the region.”

    “The Plan of Action will operationalize and help realize intent and goals of all numerous APEC declarations on food security and the blue economy including the 2014 Xiamen Declaration and 2013 Bali Declaration,” Philippine agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala said.

    APEC’s three-pronged Plan of Action cites the need for advancing sustainable management and the conservation of oceans and coastal resources to ensure a resilient food supply in the Asia-Pacific region.

    “To sustain and improve productivity of our oceans, we need to enhance biodiversity of coastal and marine ecosystems,” Philippine environment chief Ramon Paje said.

    The Plan of Action also speaks of reducing loss of quality and quantity of fish and fish products to improve food safety, add product value and ensure food security.

    “Food is a basic need – as one community, we ought to put our strength and ideas together to ensure there’ll always be safe and nutritious food on plates of our citizens,” Alcala noted.

    Promoting agri-business, market development as well as open and fair trade to integrate small-scale fishers and fish farmers into global food chains is the Plan of Action’s third thrust.

    “APEC economies have great dependence on fisheries and aquatic resources,” Alcala continued. “Consumption of fishery products in the APEC region is 65 percent higher than the world average. Moreover, APEC economies represent nine of the of 10 fish producers int he world.”

    Alcala and Paje were among Philippine officials who spearheaded in Iloilo province last month the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy.

    At the dialogue’s end, policymakers as well as food security and fishery leaders from APEC member-economies adopted the Plan of Action.

    “I wish we can bring the Plan of Action into tangible outputs and strongly encourage member-economies to implement the strategy to lay the foundation of healthy and resilient marine resources,” Paje said.

    Alcala urged APEC member-economies to join forces in ensuring availability of safe and nutritious food in the Asia-Pacific region.

    “It’s time to take the necessary action of mutual interest and benefit to APEC member-economies,” he said.

    APEC groups Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese, Taipei, Thailand, USA, Viet Nam and the Philippines.

    Commencing as an informal dialogue group in 1989, APEC evolved to become the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment across the Asia-Pacific region.

    PNA

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