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Example of Terms of Reference

A hypothetical terms of reference is reproduced below. As noted, in practice, terms of reference are specific to individual countries and need to be prepared with that country in mind.

The following terms of reference are for a study of a developing country's fisheries sector which has a significant artisanal sub-sector, small industrial fishery in coastal waters, and some inland and coastal aquaculture.

In the following terms of reference, section 1 contains a short description of the information which a sponsor might wish to see included. The following sections constitute an example of the text of a terms of reference.



The purpose of this section is to give a concise picture of the industry and the main issues which the sector study will address.

This section includes a brief description of the sector. This may consist of overview information, such as on the structure of the sector; some selected basic data, such as on fish production in each of the capture and culture sub-sectors, number and sizes of vessels, number and sizes of fish farms; geographical distribution of the sector; employment; main trends in fish consumption; exports and imports; etc.

In this section also, the purpose of the study is described and the main issues identified, as perceived by the sponsors of the study.


The overall objectives of the study are as follows:

  1. The study should provide a description of the resources available to the fisheries sector. “Resources” should be understood in the widest sense to include physical assets, people and fish.

  2. The study should include a critical evaluation of those resources. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess to what extent the current configuration of resources can be used to support the further development of the fishing industry.

  3. The study should include the formulation of possible outline strategies for the development of those resources.

  4. The study should include detailed consideration of the artisanal sub-sector, assessing its socio-economic contribution and the means by which its contribution to national economic welfare can be enhanced.


The following list of detailed tasks is a guideline for the consultants covering the main issues as perceived by the Government. It is not a definitive list of topics to be covered by the sector study. In the proposed workplan, the consultants are invited to comment on the Terms of Reference and make additional suggestions on issues which should be considered.

3.1 Institutional and Legal Aspects

  1. The study will describe the administrative and legal structure of the fishing industry.

  2. The study will include a detailed description and analysis of the work of the Fisheries Department and other fisheries authorities. It will describe the relationship between the State, especially the fisheries authorities but also other Government departments, and the industry. The study will also include recommendations on the appropriate structure of the Fisheries Department and on the relationship between the State and the industry.

  3. The study will review the system of collection and dissemination of fisheries statistics and recommend improvements.

  4. The study will examine and comment upon laws and regulations affecting the industry. To do this the consultants will need to consult other Ministries and Departments.

  5. Some issues which the study should cover are as follows:

3.2 Economic and Marketing Issues

  1. The study will show the volume and value of fish production for each of the major sub-sectors of the industry over a ten-year period. Values should be expressed in local currency and converted to international values. Volumes and values should be broken down into major species groups and product categories, when possible.

  2. The study will estimate the contribution of the fishing industry to income and employment, including part-time income and employment, from each of the main components of the industry (industrial fleet, artisanal vessels, artisanal fish processing and distribution, industrial fish processing and distribution, and inland and coastal aquaculture, respectively). The analysis will also assess the contribution of the industry to income and employment in the localities and/or sub-national regions where it is concentrated. The analysis will take into account secondary income and employment generated through linked activities, such as repairs and maintenance, ice manufacture and the manufacture of packaging materials. It will pay particular attention to the linkages within the subsector and to other fisheries subsectors, as well as linkages to other sectors.

  3. The study will include a profile of the labour force in the fish industry. This should include all relevant details, insofar as they are readily available. Data for each part of the sector should be broken down by age structure, gender, skill and formal qualifications, casual/contract/permanent conditions of employment and nationality.

  4. The supply and demand for fish will be estimated. This will include estimates of per caput fish consumption and the contribution of fish to average annual per caput protein consumption; significant regional differences should be identified; factors influencing demand will be identified. Estimates will be made of demand over the next five and ten years.

  5. The extent to which the domestic market is transparent will be considered and imperfections in the market identified;

  6. The physical conditions for the sale of fish through the main distribution channels should be reviewed.

  7. Export markets will be considered. This will include assessments of the size of markets, distribution channels, conditions of access, quality requirements, packaging, labelling and health requirements, and payment conditions in the main markets.

3.3 Artisanal Subsector

  1. The artisanal sub-sector of the industry will be described. The description will include an assessment of the economic significance of the subsector relative to the industry as a whole.

  2. The study will assess the socio-economic status of fishing industry communities. In this, it will consider, inter alia, community health, nutritional status, access to education, housing, access to potable water, and report on differences in access to social services resulting from differences in social group, such as gender or other socio-cultural category.

  3. The study will examine the socio-economic consequences for the artisanal sub-sector of current and future developments in the industry. It will assess the present and potential damage to the artisanal sub-sector and related communities from the overfishing of fish stocks harvested by the artisanal sub-sector.

  4. The study will review the physical infrastructure available to the artisanal sub-sector and make recommendations accordingly.

  5. The study will examine the availability of inputs used by the artisanal sub-sector.

  6. The study will assess the role of NGOs in the artisanal sub-sector. It will also comment upon the scope for collective action by artisanal fisherfolk in fisheries management and in any commercial activity.

  7. The study will review the fish processing and distribution activities carried out in the artisanal sub-sector, having regard particularly to methods of processing and, inter alia, the consumption of fuel and post-harvest loss of product.

3.4 Industrial Fishery and Fleet

  1. The study will develop scenarios for the future of the industrial fleet, including an assessment of both the short and long term outlook for fish stocks;

  2. The study will describe the institutional and legal constraints applying to the industrial fleet and will note any problems caused by competition for fish resources.

  3. The study will describe the current industrial fishing fleet. The description will include an assessment of the technical state of the fleet.

  4. The study will include recommendations on the future size and technical characteristics of the industrial fleet based on estimates of the economically optimum number of vessels. These calculations should be based on estimates of the costs and benefits of fishing operations.

  5. The study will include recommendations on the steps required to modernise the fleet and to equip it for efficient commercial operations. The study will include estimates of the cost of such modernisation as may be required.

  6. Institutional arrangements for the management of the near-water fisheries will be described. The study should include recommendations for any changes, if necessary.

  7. The consultants will assess the availability of suppliers of inputs to the industrial fishery, such as shipbuilding, repairs and maintenance, supplies of ice, boxes, etc.

3.5 Industrial Fish Processing and Distribution

  1. The current status of fish processing facilities will be described. The description should include an assessment of freezing and cold storage capacity, energy consumption and potential and actual throughput.

  2. The study will consider the hygiene and quality control standards in the industry and make any appropriate recommendations regarding their improvement.

  3. The study will include recommendations for modernisation and new investment in the industrial fish processing industry. The recommendations will be based on an assessment of the costs and benefits of such modernisation.

  4. The study will consider the scope for the diversification of the fish processing industry for the processing and distribution of other foods.

  5. The study will assess the scope for further privatisation of the fishing processing industry.

3.6 Aquaculture

  1. The current status of inland and coastal aquaculture will be described. The description should include an assessment of the area of ponds, areas of marine and brackish water used for aquaculture, productivity, drop-out rate of fish farmers, and output.

  2. The study will examine the scope for the further development of the inland part of the aquaculture industry. Consideration should be given to ways in which the area of ponds can be increased on agricultural farms by generating net benefits to farmers. In this part of the study, the consultants should take into account, inter alia, the present institutional structure, the provision of extension services to fish farmers, the availability of seed, and any need for research and the ways in which such research can be most usefully used. The recommendations will be based on an assessment of the costs and benefits of such development including, inter alia, a consideration of the marketing of fish, and should take account of all relevant environmental factors. The recommendations should also take account of quarantine requirements and other precautionary practices.

  3. The consultants will consider the potential for the development of marine and brackishwater aquaculture.

  4. The study should comment upon the consequences of aquaculture development on income distribution and other socio-economic variables.

3.7 Fishing Ports and Harbours and Other Infrastructure and Marketable Inputs

  1. The study will review the capacity and suitability to the fishing industry of fishing ports and harbours, taking into account any other commercial developments at these ports and harbours.

  2. The study will assess the commercial activities related to fishing currently taking place at the country's fishing ports and harbours. Activities considered will include repairs and maintenance, and shipbuilding.

  3. The study will make recommendations for the improvement of port and harbour facilities for the industrial fleet and artisanal vessels.

3.8 Fish Transport and Trading

  1. The study should include an assessment of the current arrangement for transporting fish inside and outside the country.

  2. The fish trade will be examined with a view to suggesting improvements in the approaches adopted.

3.9 Research Requirements

  1. The sector study should describe the human resources and existing research facilities related to the fish industry. Relationships between the fisheries authorities and the fisheries research institutions, and between the industry and the research should be reviewed. The research programme of the Department should be assessed. The means employed by the research institutions to communicate the results of research to interested parties should be reviewed. Recommendations on these issues and research strategy generally should be included in the report.

  2. As part of the sector study, the consultants should identify possible research partners for fisheries research institutions.

3.10 Training and Education

  1. The study should include an assessment of the current training and educational facilities for the fish industry, and within fisheries authorities and other institutions. Both internal and external resources should be taken into account.

  2. The sector study should include recommendations for training.

3.11 Coastal Area Management

  1. The study will review: (i) the management of coastal areas from the perspective of the fisheries sector including, inter alia, the extent to which the fisheries authorities, representatives of the fisheries sector and the fishing communities are consulted in decision-making process and involved in other activities related to coastal area management; and (ii) the institutional arrangements and their efficacy in protecting the rights of coastal fishing communities and their customary practices to the extent which is compatible with sustainable development.

  2. The study will assess the extent to which Government agencies and other institutions effectively monitor the coastal areas and the marine environment, having particular regard to the effects of environmental changes on the fisheries sector.

  3. The study will examine the degree to which the fisheries authorities are able to assess the impact of activities outside the fisheries sector on the sector and the environmental impact of activities within the sector.

  4. The study will assess the present and potential role of the fisheries authorities in mitigating or eliminating adverse environmental impacts on fisheries and the externalities generated by fisheries, including aquaculture, and make recommendations accordingly.

  5. The study will examine the extent to which the Government has facilitated the adoption of fisheries practices that avoid conflict between fisheries resources users and other users of the coastal area, and by which it has promoted the establishment of procedures and mechanisms at the appropriate levels to deal with conflicts which arise within the fisheries sector and between fisheries resources users and other users of the coastal area.

  6. The study will examine the extent to which Governmental agencies are cooperating with neighbouring States to facilitate the sustainable use of coastal resources and the conservation of the environment.


The study will be conducted under the supervision of the Director of Fisheries. The Director will ensure that the consultants have free access to all information required for the study.

The consultants are requested to nominate a team for the study.

The consultants' team will work with local specialists to be assigned by the Fisheries Department in their areas of expertise.


Up to nine man/months have been allocated for the completion of the study which will be completed within six months. The consultants will prepare a detailed workplan for the study and nominate an expert as project manager.


The consultants will provide the services set out in these Terms of Reference. They will assume full responsibility for meeting the Terms of Reference.

The consultants will be responsible for all costs related to their implementation of the project including fees, per diem, local specialists, international and domestic transport, preparation of reports, etc.

The consultants will present a draft report in English upon completion of the field work. Five copies of the report will be presented in the language of the country and five copies in English within two months of completion of the field work.


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