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Any industry requires some government expenditure for its administration and to carry out the relevant research and information-gathering functions. There appears to be no firm guidelines as to the prior level of expenditures that should be devoted to this governmental activity, which depends on a wide variety of considerations, not all related to the question of fisheries production. Thus, the desire to maintain employment or to keep people in coastal communities, or to avoid political conflicts internally, are among some of the factors that can cause governments to make expenditures on the fisheries sector per se. Leaving aside these quite valid considerations (which derive their justification from outside the fisheries sector regarded as a productive activity), the appropriate policy to pursue if the fisheries sector is to be a net contributor to the economy, is for government expenditures in the sector not to exceed some percentage of either the present net revenue from the sector, or of the potential net revenue if all underexploited resources were to be harvested efficiently. Thus, if it is appropriate for expenditures not to exceed say, 5–20% of the annual value for a fully developed fishery (and of course a higher percentage than this in the development phase), then the expenditure on one function, data collection, should be a fraction of this figure. No attempt will be made here to generalize further on the appropriate level of expenditure on statistics collection, but for small island states, especially for island archipelagos, a relatively high proportion of the national resource income will need to be expended, given the scattered nature of fishing communities and the lack of large ports and fisheries enterprises that permit cost-effective data collection. This again argues for a cost-effective approach to statistical collection.

In the case of small shelf fisheries which are vulnerable to overfishing (e.g., conch and lobster fisheries in the Caribbean) the stocks may disappear if not properly managed. The costs of rehabilitating these resources are likely to greatly exceed revenues for a number of years to come, and in these cases data collection should be made an integral part of any management plan decided upon.

In addition to the above considerations, one compelling reason for a large government involvement in fisheries, particularly for small island states, is that fisheries usually operate on a common property resource, a resource owned by the country as a whole. Since extension of economic jurisdiction to 200 mi by most island states in the late 1970s, the territory proprietary to the nation is often increased twofold or more, and the fisheries of these areas are often their most valuable actual or potential assets. This should lead the government to become deeply involved in the planning and management of the fishery, with a requirement for reliable data at this early stage of ownership being regarded as a national priority (see Burke, 1982).

In designing and operating a statistical system in severely limited manpower/resources situations, it must be recognized that the results will only be as accurate as the effort expended by the government fishery service.

The first thing to do is to identify on the one hand, the types of data needed, and the priorities and procedures for the collection of the spectrum of characteristics required, and on the other hand, the budget and manpower available for the implementation of the system of work for data collection.

2.1 Frame Surveys

A complete census or count of the main units (ports, plant, boats, fishermen, markets and transportation routes) is essential for the proper statistical collection of information on the primary fishery sector. This includes:

  1. Existing ports and landing places and their pattern of distribution.
  2. Number of fishing units and information on their components, such as fishermen, fishing boats, fishing gear, and the clustering pattern of the fishing units (wide-spread, or clustered into fishing ports and landing places).
  3. Fishing and landing habits of the fishing units and the diurnal and seasonal pattern of activity in the fishery.
  4. Supply centres for capital goods and essential materials (e.g., gasoline, netting, etc.).
  5. Fish distribution routes, processing and marketing habits and related costs, etc.

For the collection of the information required 1 from the traditional and artisanal fisheries, the best approach to Frame Surveys is by water or road, supplemented if possible by low-cost remote sensing techniques (Aerial Frame Surveys). For a complete inventory of information from industrial fisheries, either the interview or the reporting approach can be used.

The pattern of rotation of the frame surveys i.e., how often the surveys should be conducted, is a function on temporal changes in the size, distribution and operational aspects of the target fishing population. For traditional and artisanal fisheries, it may be necessary to carry out a frame survey every one or two years.

Part-time resources are needed for carrying out Frame Surveys and Aerial Frame Surveys. Once completed however, it is possible to make continual observation to update the original frame in the course of routine activities of fishery officers.

1 See Bazigos (1974) for details of the design and operational aspects of Frame Surveys and Aerial Frame Surveys

2.2 Current Catch Assessment (CAS) and Related Surveys

CASs are surveys over successive occasions aiming at collecting current information on total catch and fishing effort exerted by the operating fisheries. For the traditional and artisanal fisheries, sampling in space and time is used for data collection. For industrial fisheries the census method is usually used.

The operational steps in the sample design of a CAS involves the selection of the sample of ports and landing places (sampling in space) and the selection of the sample days (sample period) within the established reference period (= month, quarter, etc.) for obtaining the required information from a sample of boat landings within the sample ports and landing places.

For field operations during a CAS, recorders should be trained and assigned to the survey, possibly on a temporary basis. Other items of cost include transport, fuel, mapping materials, etc. Personnel in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries must have this function spelled out in their work plans and budget on a non-discretionary basis, especially if employed temporarily.

Although the thesis of this publication is that CASs are not absolutely indispensable in following trends, they should be strongly recommended at intervals of five years or so to assess absolute magnitude of the catch and other important characteristics of the fishery.

2.3 Existing Resources Allocated for Related Functions

Records of fish imports, exports and transshipments may already be collected by custom agents, exporters and food retailers, harbour masters or other government departments. Information on names and numbers of fishermen by community may also be collected by social workers, and/or by inland revenue (if approached with discretion). Other government or municipal departments concerned with regional development that may collect various relevant statistics, such as on fish consumption may also help here. Data on sports fishing (e.g., tournament records) may be available, and provide some index of changes in abundance and size composition of important species.

Harbours masters may also provide information on the number of boats registered for fishing, or leaving port daily, or on numbers of boats transshipping fish in the port, and can help in maintaining an up-to-date boat registry.

In all these cases, explanation of the six rationales spelled out earlier on in this document, can often result in data being collected, or even special information being recorded with no extra manpower, and little or no extra cost.

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