In early April another major step was taken as the Steering Committee for an ASEAN FIP Protocol met for the first time in Bangkok, Thailand. Fourteen representatives of major businesses and non-governmental organizations from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines provided suggestions and comments to develop initial ideas for environmental and social benchmarks and provided direction on how to develop the first draft of the Protocol. Steering committee membership is currently open but interested new members must apply for membership. The idea behind an ASEAN FIP Protocol is to provide an easy entry point for ASEAN fisheries to engage in credible sustainability programs, and to help bridge the gap between what is expected in terms of sustainability in the West and the realities that fisheries face in the East.
The first draft of the protocol is now under development and is expected to be available for use in Public meetings by mid-May. The public meeting in Thailand on the project to develop the FIP protocol for the ASEAN region is tentatively scheduled for May 24th in Bangkok. Additional meetings are being planned for Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines in May and June. The steering committee will then meet in July to consider all feedback collected with the aim of releasing the draft for a 60 day public comment period over the summer.