“Partnership between the public and private sector provides a new opportunity for doing development better – by recognising the strength and competencies of each sector and finding new ways of harnessing the common good,” said Mrs Elvi Wijayanti, on behalf of Mr Anang Noegroho, Chairman of the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Fisheries.

Recognising that partnership and collaboration between the public and private sector can create effective and efficient solutions, government and private sector representatives in ASEAN have participated in dialogues and discussions since 2010 through the support of the ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility and the ASEAN-U.S. Maximizing Agricultural Revenue through Knowledge, Enterprise Development, and Trade (MARKET) Project. In preparation for the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community, and to address issues threatening the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in ASEAN, the public and private sector has decided to further the level of engagement, from dialogues to partnership and collaboration in the implementation of activities.

At the ASEAN Public-Private Dialogue on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture held in Bangkok, Thailand, in December 2012, participants from the public and private sectors agreed and supported the formation of the ASEAN Public-Private Informal Taskforce for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture that will serve as a platform for ASEAN’s public and private sector stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture industry to work collaboratively on tackling issues that threaten the sustainability of the industry. To kick-start the formation of the informal taskforce, key representatives from ASEAN’s government, private sector, and smallholder fishers and farmers gathered in March 2013, at Bali, Indonesia, to discuss and finalise the details of the structure and operational details of the Informal Taskforce, and to prioritise key activities that can be implemented jointly and coordinated through the taskforce.

The Informal Taskforce prioritised several areas for further exploration in the capture fisheries sub-sector, including the design of common ASEAN fisheries improvement program protocols for key fisheries, combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the development of marine aquaculture. For the aquaculture sector, the Taskforce identified disease management, harmonisation of standards, improvement of seed quality and availability, addressing the cost of feed through better feeding practices and applied research on alternative protein sources as priority activities. A representative of ASEAN’s small fishers and farmers expressed that issues prioritised by the Taskforce were very much in line with the interests of the private sector, including small holders, and the collaborative implementation of these activities “would have positive impacts on business opportunities and in ensuring the success of production in the future”.

The next step for the Informal Taskforce is to determine its members, and to design detailed activity plans. Any stakeholders in the ASEAN Member States’ fisheries and aquaculture industry who are interested in participating in the Informal Taskforce can contact Ms Pouchamarn Wongsanga at pouchamarn.w@asean.org.