The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the lead United Nations agency for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development.
FAO activities comprise four main areas:
- Putting information within reach. FAO serves as a knowledge network. They use the expertise of staff - agronomists, foresters, fisheries and livestock specialists, nutritionists, social scientists, economists, statisticians and other professionals - to collect, analyse and disseminate data that aid development.
- Sharing policy expertise. FAO lends its years of experience to member countries in devising agricultural policy, supporting planning, drafting effective legislation and creating national strategies to achieve rural development and hunger alleviation goals.
- Providing a meeting place for nations. As a neutral forum, FAO provides the setting where rich and poor nations can come together to build common understanding.
- Bringing knowledge to the field. FAO mobilizes and manages millions of dollars provided by industrialized countries, development banks and other sources to make sure the projects achieve their goals.
An intergovernmental organization, FAO has 183 member countries plus one member organization, the European Community. FAO plays an important role in the Regional Seas Programme. FAO is an observer in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the MAP and the Antarctic region.
The Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is one of the regional fisheries bodies that interacts with the FAO directly on issues such as IUU (illegal, unregulated and unreported) fishing and incident mortally of seabirds during longline fishing. FAO collaborates with the MAP in the framework of the SAP-BIO project on the interaction of fisheries and marine ecosystems.
FAO also cooperates in the Mediterranean region on issues in relation to responsible fishing through the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM); agricultural issues through the Blue Plan Regional Activity Centre; and soil erosion issues through the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre.
With regional offices in Africa, Asia, the Near East, and Latin America and the Caribbean, FAO also works with UNEP in several Regional Seas including the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and South-East Pacific.
FAO, in 2001 produced with UNEP a report on Ecosystem-Based Management of Fisheries.