The SEAFDEC working group on regional fisheries policy
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SEAFDEC, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, is an autonomous intergovernmental body established as a regional treaty organization to promote sustainable fisheries in Southeast Asia. The Secretariat, based in Thailand, is its administrative arm. Four technical departments are hosted by Member Countries: the Training Department in Thailand; the Marine Fisheries Research Department in Singapore; the Aquaculture Department in the Philippines; and the Marine Fisheries Resources Development and Management Department in Malaysia. Staff hired and employed in the Departments are mostly local. As an organization, SEAFDEC’s existence is supported financially by contributions by Member Countries and by various donors involved in the implementation of regional programs, projects and activities. Its funding is partly supported by the host governments of its technical departments, in the local currency. Such unique mechanism has made SEAFDEC more stable despite the financial crisis experienced in the region and enabled its survival through the years. The Secretariat, as the administrative arm of SEAFDEC, has to coordinate and oversee the general policy and planning of the Center, generate and formulate regional fisheries policy concepts, and coordinate the development and implementation of programs seen as of first priority in the region by the respective Departments. However, as most Secretariat staff are locally hired, a legitimate concern has been that other Member Countries might not recognize the validity of policy options, in relation of proposals taking insufficient account of actual national situations. To enhance the Secretariat’s coordination and policy formulation functions, the setting up of a group composed of staff from all Member Countries was believed necessary. The SEAFDEC Working Group on Regional Fisheries Policy was established in response to this need.