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1st Fisheries Management and Marine Environment Workshop

Beijing, China
June 6-7, 2018

The above 1.5 Track Workshop was co-hosted by the China Institute of International Studies (CISS) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) in Beijing, China. The aim of this workshop is to have detailed discussions among participants (government, scientific, policy analysts and think tanks) from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia on the current marine situation in the South China Sea.

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Participants of the Workshop

Invited representatives from Malaysia were Capt. Martin A. SEBASTIAN RMN (R), Senior Fellow and Centre Head, Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy, Dr Mabel Manjaji from University Malaysia Sabah, Ms Uraini bte Ujang from the Department of Fisheries and Encik Helmy bin Ahmed from the National Security Council. Capt Martin presented on the Comprehensive Approach to address Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing whilst Dr Mabel presented on the need to safeguard sharks. There was another presentation by Ms. Cheryl Rita, Centre Head, Centre for Marine Environment, which was delivered by HD staff, since Cheryl could not make it to the workshop.  Cheryl addressed marine pollution and the need for collaborative action.

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The Malaysian Team

Participants were united in their conviction that the eco-systems of the South China Sea are of paramount environmental, social, and economic importance. If unaddressed by cooperative action, there are a range of threats that could undermine the environmental productivity and economic sustainability of the South China Sea. They expressed interest in continuing to discuss the issues of joint scientific assessment and data-sharing, and eliminating plastic pollution in a 2nd Fisheries Management and Marine Environment Protection (FM-MEP) Workshop in late 2018.

A number of challenges around data-sharing were noted, particularly the political sensitivities around the ownership of data. As such, participants emphasized the need to build confidence by first exploring the possibility of sharing data around issues that are considered less sensitive. They also noted the importance of establishing standard methodology for collecting and processing data. Many participants noted the role that existing institutions currently play in facilitating datasharing in the region but highlighted the importance of informal mechanisms for building confidence around data-sharing amongst the South China Sea littoral countries.

Participants agreed that plastic pollution in the South China Sea is a priority issue that cannot be addressed unilaterally. They emphasized the need to develop a joint technical working group to develop a better understanding of plastic debris disposal in the region, and to initiate joint action, including public educational programs (ocean literacy).

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