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The International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity (IPOA-Capacity) was adopted by the FAO Committee on Fisheries in February 1999. It calls upon FAO to "support States in the implementation of their national plans for the management of fishing capacity" (para 46).

At the time the IPOA-Capacity was developed is was recognized that management of fishing capacity is a complicated matter, and that fishery managers assigned this task would be facing a large number of issues, several of them new to many managers. Therefore, it was considered essential to develop a text that would examine the main issues in the management of fishing capacity and their possible solutions.

Initially it was intended that the text would take the form of 'guidelines'. However, it soon became apparent that there is not enough experience available to produce authoritative and detailed guidelines. So it was decided that the text should provide a background to the need for managing fishing capacity and an introduction to the issues that arise in doing so. It would, to the extent possible, include advice and recomments and would be addressed primarily to decision-markers within public fishery administrations. But, it was thought that it should also be of use to various groups concerned with fisheries management, including non-governmental organisations, and various fishing industry organisations.

'Management of Fishing Capacity; a review of policy and technical issues" has been written jointly by Dr Steve Cunningham of "Institut du développement durable et des ressources aquatiques" (IDDRA), Montpellier, France and Dr Dominique Gréboval, Senior Fishery Planning Officer (FAO).

The authors have taken into account the deliberations and recommendations of the FAO Technical Working Group on the Management of Fishing Capacity that met in La Jolla, USA, in April 1998 and subsequent work that led to the adoption of the IPOA-Capacity. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of experts who attended this meeting and that of Dan Holland (USA) and Jon Sutinen (USA) who prepared an early draft of guidelines for the management of fishing capacity as an input to the Technical Working Group.

An attempt has been made in this text to use concepts and terms in the same sense that they are used in Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and in the IPOA-Capacity. In case of doubt, however, the reader should know that this technical paper does not intend to reinterpret either of those two instruments.

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