Opening Remarks By H.E. Imron Cotan Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs At The Opening Session of â??Regional Consultation for the Identification of Technical Assistance Needs of Tsunami Affected Coastal Fishing Communitiesâ??

 3/7/2006

Distinguished Representatives of CFC and INFOFISH,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed an honor for me to be able to attend this important Regional Consultation for the Identification of Technical Assistance Needs of Tsunami Affected Coastal Fishing Communities. And, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, I wish to warmly welcome you to Medan – a place I always call home.

I should also like to extend my profound appreciation and gratitude to CFC, INFOFISH and NAM CSSTC, and in fact to many others, for the excellent manner in which they have prepared this joint endeavor.

Our regional consultation is a response to the urgent needs of the tsunami affected countries for rehabilitation assistance in the fisheries sector. There is no doubt in our mind that the coastal community is one of the most devastated by the tragedy.

Damage seemed to be beyond repairs.

In Aceh and Nias Island alone, over 80% of the small-scale fishing canoes and over 70% of the total fishing fleet had been destroyed. Most of the nearly 1000 marine-culture farms, mostly producing sea-bass, located in the affected areas had also sustained tremendous loss, including the Brackish Aquaculture Center at Ujung Batee, Aceh.

This distressing reality is also faced by other tsunami-hit countries. Indonesia has therefore taken the initiative to organize this regional consultation in full support of 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 held in Rome, in March 2005.

The meeting was attended by 121 ministers and senior officials, and adopted a joint declaration underlining the importance of rehabilitating and restoring the livelihood of fishermen and fish farmers, as well as providing them with protection from future natural disasters and other environmental threats.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are 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 our common determination and shared commitment to assist the affected fishing communities. There is indeed an urgent need for us to use all available resources, knowledge and skills to mitigate the tsunami’s impacts in a manner that is most helpful to the fishermen and their livelihood.

We need to be reminded, however, that these rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts should not only focus on repairing the damaged fishing infrastructures and equipments, but also on capacity building of the affected people to enable them to run sustainable fishing expeditions in the future without compromising the environment.

Rehabilitation should also be based on a study of the fishery sector’s medium and long-term needs and of its trade pattern development, for damage to fisheries has definitely become a factor in hampering domestic and international trade in fish and fish-related 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 and, in turn, formulate appropriate response and assistance to our fishermen to enable them to re-flourish and rebuild their shattered lives.
 
It is to be hoped that the consultation should also be followed-up with immediate and concrete actions in those tragedy-hit countries within the ambit of regional co-operation, for which the role of donors is absolutely essential.

To conclude let me wish you every success in your indeed noble endeavor and, at the same time, declare this regional consultation open officially.

Thank you.

Medan, 7 February 2006