South Korea's Vice-Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Jae Hak Son, and FAO Assistant Director-General Maria Helena Semedo signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work together to build the capacity of developing countries to address key issues related to fisheries and aquaculture and promote compliance with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Adopted by FAO's member countries in 1995, the Code contains a series of policy principles, technical guidelines and best practices for conducting fishing and aquaculture in a responsible and sustainable way.
The new FAO-South Korea initiative will cover a broad spectrum of policy, governance and management issues in fisheries and aquaculture. Education and training programmes will be a major component.
All activities will mainly be financed by South Korea via a new trust fund established at FAO.
"Fishing and fish farming make major contributions to food supply, nutrition, and incomes for millions of people," said Semedo.
"This new programme will help safeguard these contributions for future generations, by providing governments and those working in fishing and aquaculture with guidance and support in adopting more sustainable practices. We are extremely grateful for South Korea's support for this effort, both in terms of funding and in bringing its own expertise and know-how to bear," she added.
"This MOU forms part of Korean efforts to foster capacity building in developing countries," added Mr Jae Hak Son.
"By providing key education and training, we will help create much needed expertise in international fisheries policy development."
A key food sector
The livelihoods of 660 to 820 million people depend directly or indirectly on fisheries and aquaculture, and fish is the primary source of protein of 17 per cent of the world's population - that figure rises to nearly 25 per cent in low-income food-deficit countries and to more than 50 per cent in some Least Developed countries in Africa and Asia..
For small Island Developing States (SIDS), where opportunities for land-based livelihoods and economic development are limited, fisheries and aquaculture are especially important.
Fish is also an essential food item for island communities, where its contribution to total animal protein consumption ranges from an average of 16 to more than 50 per cent.