This is the third issue of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. It follows the pattern set by the previous issues, published in 1996 and 1998. The purpose continues to be to provide policy-makers, civil society and those who derive their livelihood from the sector a comprehensive, objective and global view of capture fisheries and aquaculture, including associated policy issues.
The concerns of consumers and fishers, which are central to the state of world fisheries and aquaculture, are reflected in a number of topics examined in The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2000. A discussion of current issues is complemented by summary reports on national and international activities undertaken to address them. Some issues are well known and figure prominently in the international debate - the issue of fish quality and safety, for instance, and that of genetically modified organisms and fisheries. Also discussed are two important issues that are much less known and understood: the first is fishers' safety; the second is the culture of fishing communities. It is not commonly known that fishing at sea is probably the most dangerous occupation in the world. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2000 reports on this issue in the hope that a more widespread realization of this aspect of fisheries will lead to effective measures to improve fishers' safety. Recent developments in fisheries governance seem to lead to a larger role for fishers in fisheries management. However, for fishers to become effective partners in management, a better understanding of their communities' culture is essential. Highlights from a recently completed FAO study of this subject are included in this publication on the premise that reaching a better understanding of such cultures is a key to fisheries management and food security in most artisanal and small-scale fisheries.
Sustainable exploitation continues to be a desirable goal for all fisheries and aquaculture operations. This year, we report on some aspects of the progress made by the international fisheries community towards achieving this goal. Summary information is provided on the state of fisheries management, and several factors to be considered in efforts to improve management are discussed, for example: i) property rights - seen as a means for defining and specifying the entitlements, privileges and responsibilities created by different types of fisheries management regimes; ii) the role of indicators of sustainable development and their integration with the precautionary approach, as the use of such indicators is set to become a practice leading towards an ecosystems framework for management; iii) a plausible approach for dealing with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and iv) ecolabelling, the basic principles of which are described, together with the somewhat controversial standing of this practice and its potential contribution to fisheries management.
As in the past, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2000 begins by reviewing recent developments in the status of resources, production from capture fisheries and aquaculture, utilization and trade. Recent advances in fishing technology are also covered. This information is complemented by a report - in Part 3 - on the economic viability of selected commercial fishing fleets. A general outlook is provided in Part 4, which examines recent trends and their possible impact on the nature and character of the fishing industry, as well as on the level and distribution of future fish consumption.
It is my hope that The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2000 will generate awareness of the increasing global interaction inherent in the sector. In turn, this greater awareness should stimulate global, regional and national efforts to improve responsible practices and promote sustainability in fisheries and aquaculture.