The three-day 5th Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Ocean and Fisheries Working Group (APEC-OFWG) began yesterday on the island paradise of Boracay in the province of Aklan.

The group composed of 21 member-economies in the Asia-Pacific region convenes for the second time since their meeting in January this year.

Philippine government’s Agriculture Undersecretary for Fisheries Atty. Asis G. Perez serves as the Lead Shepherd of the meeting. He is spearheading the meeting as they take on updates and progress reports on ocean-related issues in their economies.

“The Philippine government is at the height of its commitment to international cause as far as protecting marine life and fisheries is concerned. We are in one with the economies in safeguarding its interests,” Perez said.

Among the matters on the agenda are sustainable development and protection of marine environment, free and open trade and investment and, high level policy dialogue on blue economy and food security.

Perez said he is confident that the meeting will be successful with each member-economy bringing concrete plans and projects on the table.

“On our previous meeting in Clark, Pampanga, we suggested the development of the OFWG 2015 Annual Work Plan in which US, China, Japan and, Peru volunteered to assist, he said, “This is the take off of our meeting here—to discuss its implementation and recommend strategies to the economies’ leaders,” he added. 

The OFWG work plan include projects and activities working around the issues of food security and blue economy, which will be undertaken individually and collaboratively by the member-economies.

Meanwhile, the Senior Officials’ Meeting of the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) will follow the OFWG meeting on May 13 to 15. With the theme “Building Inclusive Growth in the Agricultural and Fisheries Sectors to Ensure Food Security,” discussions are expected to center on plans and recommendations that will substantially promote inclusive growth in these sectors.

Aside from the delegates, Perez said, selected fisheries stakeholders from the Philippines will also be present in the PPFS meeting.