3.1 DATA NEEDS FOR MANAGEMENT ISSUES
3.2 MANAGEMENT-RELATED INDICATORS
3.3 REGIONAL NEEDS
Data are needed to make rational decisions, evaluate the
fisheries performance in relation to management objectives and fulfil regional
requirements. The extent to which objectives are achieved is assessed using
indicators, which are generated from data. There is no standard set of
indicators, but all must be tailored to each fishery dependent on which social,
economic or environmental concerns are important. Appropriate indicators can be
developed which measure the state of the resource, the performance of fishing
controls, economic efficiency, socio-economic performance and social continuity.
A fishery authority may also be obliged to supply information to regional and
international organisations and other states with respect to straddling or
highly migratory stocks.
"The collection of data is not an end in itself, but is essential for informed decision-making." (FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries 4: Fisheries Management: Article 2, FAO 1997a).Planners and managers need to understand the dynamics of the fish stocks, fishery operations, infrastructure, communities and individuals involved in the fisheries sector in order to set policy and manage fisheries. Data collection and analysis, for example, can provide information on how fishers are likely to respond to different policies. Constraints on production and development of new fisheries can be identified. Prices and cost changes in the fisheries can be assessed. Stocks likely to receive increased levels of exploitation may be identified before resource levels drop to a crisis point.
"States should ensure that timely, complete and reliable statistics on catch and fishing effort are collected and maintained in accordance with applicable international standards and practices and in sufficient detail to allow sound statistical analysis. Such data should be updated regularly and verified through an appropriate system...." (CCRF 7.4.4)
Answers to fisheries policy and management questions can be obtained from bio-socio-economic analyses. These are powerful tools that can be used to assess:
· the local resource management regimes already present;These analyses require certain types of data to produce indicators, which are used to guide decision-making. Although the analytical method has some influence, the types of data needed are largely decided by the indicators that the management authority requires to make its decisions.
· the options that restrict access to each fishery and the social and economic disruption to the associated fishing community which may occur;
· the different impact management measures have on each sector of the fishing community and the perceived fairness of those impacts.
Information in this context has great economic value. As investment in fisheries increases, harvesting rate and the risk of overexploitation rise. Overexploitation results in decreasing catch per fishing unit, and may result in economic loss and hardship. Data collection is necessary to increase or sustain welfare and earn revenue, because it decreases the risk of overexploitation, and leads to improvements in exploitation patterns.
Fisheries management requires consideration of a variety of issues, all of which need to be addressed using information collected from biological, economic and socio-cultural sources. A fishery is a complex system of interacting factors incorporating the state of the biological resource, social and institutional constraints, economic conditions and cultural beliefs. Integrated analysis, using a variety of data, is necessary for predictive assessments of future conditions and the outcomes of alternative management measures.
Over time, many different management issues will emerge in every fishery. Many of these issues, particularly those related to the environment, can only be identified using information derived from a data collection programme. For this reason, it is wise to develop a programme that covers a wider range of variables than that required only for current policy.
As ecosystems world-wide have become subject to increasing stress, it has become more important to develop, maintain and improve harvesting regimes which minimise negative impacts on habitats and fish communities. Specific data on fishing operations, fishers, fishing communities, and the environment are required to achieve this objective.
Fisheries in certain near-shore marine habitats and many river-driven systems, such as mangroves, coral reefs, floodplains, marshes and rivers, are especially sensitive to environmental stress. The greatest threats to these fisheries are often not over-exploitation of resources, but rather loss and degradation of the aquatic habitat and poor land-use practices that lead to sedimentation and pollution. Under these circumstances, the management of fish habitats and related environments is often a priority, so the collection of environmental and ecological data in relation to fishing patterns is essential.
For management to work, the economic and socio-cultural aspects of fisheries must always be assessed. In all fisheries it is, after all, people who utilise the resource and affect it in a variety of ways, and people whose behaviour must be influenced to implement effective management measures. Integrating data collection with the fishing community is not only cost-effective, but also a useful way for the community to influence management through indicating its own needs and concerns.
Policy makers and managers require information on compliance for two main reasons. First, to test the degree to which fishery operations comply with the limits and regulations laid down to achieve management targets. Second, to reduce the risk of conflicts through the control of competing sub-sectors, including illegal fishing activities. Relating socio-cultural and economic data on motivations and incentives to compliance data should improve understanding of critical issues for enforcement and education.
3.2.1 Status of resources
3.2.3 Fishing controls
3.2.4 Economic efficiency
3.2.5 Social performance
Effective management of fisheries requires indicators derived from time series of data. Indicators of fishery status are usually constructed from a series of data types and variables and interpreted in relation to agreed reference points corresponding to objectives adopted for production and conservation. In some cases indicators may be interpreted simply by comparisons with historical values, such as interpretations of rising or falling revenue or employment. In other cases, the interpretation requires comparing indicators with reference points derived from complex analyses or from development policy objectives. For example, simply knowing the current catch is of limited use unless some target level or limit (such as maximum sustainable yield) is available against which it can be interpreted. Targets may also require data from other sources. For example, the target might be to reduce the proportion of fishers with incomes 50% below the national average over a specified period, which requires information on average national incomes, not just fishers' earnings.
The information domains for which indicators are needed for implementing and assessing management strategies include the biological resources, production, control system, economic and social domains.
The aim of many data collection programmes is to monitor and assess the status of the stocks that are being exploited. Typically, the status of a stock is interpreted in relation to one or more reference points, which are targets or limits for the fishery. Using analytical models, these targets can be used to derive controls, such as catch quotas or effort controls, which are designed to move the stock towards the desired state.
Increasing overexploitation of resources may often be detected by a combination of falling catch per unit effort, falling total landings, decreasing mean weight of fish or changes in the fish population age structure or species composition. By maintaining a time series of catch per unit effort and total landings by fleets (e.g. gear or boat category), by commercial species group, fishing area and fishing season, overfishing should be detectable. Without these data, there is often significant disagreement between interested parties because assessments have to be based on subjective judgement and anecdotal information.
Sophisticated methods, such as cohort analysis, based on more detailed biological data may also be used. Data for these methods usually comprise size, age, sex and maturity of fish sampled from the catch. These data, routinely collected over a long period, together with other scientific information on fish growth and mortality, can produce accurate estimates of the current state of the stock. Results from such stock assessments should form the scientific foundation for advice on conservation measures.
In addition to concerns over individual stocks, the overall status of exploited ecosystems is becoming an important issue in management. Monitoring species, age and size composition, mean lengths of species caught, habitat, by-catches (in particular discards) allows management to assess the wider impacts of fishing on the ecosystem.
Yield is an important indicator of fisheries performance, often judged in relation to potential yield. Potential yield is a forecast of the sustainable landings that good management should be able to achieve. Estimates of potential yield can be obtained from a variety of methods, some of which require very little data. Methods requiring few data are often highly uncertain in predicting standing stocks and potential yields. Simplified models may be used at the start of exploitation of a new resource when few data are available, but as exploitation progresses, and investment in the fishery increases, more sophisticated and data demanding models should be applied.
There are many methods available for the management of fisheries, including the use of closed seasons, closed areas, limitations of catches or fishing effort, property rights, taxation, catch quotas or mesh size regulation. Usually a management regime is some mixture of these. Evaluation of the effect of these management measures is only possible if specific data are available. For instance, to measure the effect of changes in net mesh size requires fish size and species composition data from before and after a new regulation is imposed. Without monitoring, substantial resources can be wasted enforcing controls that have little benefit for the stock and great cost to those fishing. Monitoring of socio-cultural and economic trends in the fisheries on a regular basis is therefore also critical to determining whether fisheries policies are achieving their objectives.
Enforcement may be assisted by using data collected as an audit trail, from harvesting through processing to export or consumption. Compliance itself should also be monitored to assess the effectiveness of management. An indicator of compliance could be, for instance, the number of recorded infringements against some control variable (such as the area covered by surveillance flights or number of vessels observed, etc.).
The economic objectives of fisheries management include improving the economic benefits to participants in the fishery, the appropriate allocation of resources between competing uses (i.e. fishing and other sectors of the economy) and the generation of economic benefits to the broader community. These three objectives are complementary. Ensuring an appropriate allocation of resources between competing groups within and outside the fisheries sector will result in an improvement in the economic situation of fishers and the generation of economic benefits to the local community. How well the fishery is doing in this regard can be monitored using an micro-economic performance indicator, which describes the economic performance of those involved in fishing. The indicator can be used to determine how well existing management plans are achieving the desired economic goal and to identify which segments of the sector require the greatest attention. In addition, macro-economic indicators are important in determining how the sector is performing relative to other sectors of the economy, and provides useful guidance to government policy and planning.
The main objective of individual vessel4 owners is to organise their fishing in the most economically efficient manner therefore ensuring the greatest level of returns. However, measures designed to create an overall economically efficient fishery may conflict with broader objectives of the fishing community. Many fishing fleets are dominated by a large number of small boats. In many cases, however, an economically efficient fleet is characterised by a much smaller number of boats. This may adversely affect community stability, particularly in areas where few alternative employment opportunities exist. Linking biological, socio-cultural and economic data collected on a routine basis will allow these concerns to be evaluated.
4 "Vessel" is used in this document to refer to all fishing crafts.An important aspect of social performance is the sustainability of the fishing communities. There are two aspects related to continuity of fishing among successive generations. One is continued access to the lifestyle for future generations. Will a particular management measure make it more difficult for young people to enter the fishery than would otherwise have been the case? The other may be the concern with maintaining certain critical features of the fishing lifestyle, which may form the core that differentiates it from other lifestyles. To address these issues, there is a need for socio-cultural and economic data, which are in turn related to the biological status of the resources.
"States should compile fishery-related and other supporting scientific data relating to fish stocks covered by sub-regional and regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements in an internationally agreed format and provide them in a timely manner...." (CCRF 7.4.6.).
"Where a subregional or regional fisheries management organization or arrangement has the competence to establish conservation and management measures for particular straddling fish stocks or highly migratory fish stocks, States fishing for the stocks on the high seas and relevant coastal States shall give effect to their duty to co-operate by becoming members of such organization or participants in such arrangement, or by agreeing to apply the conservation and management measures established by such organization or arrangement." (FSA 8.3).
Many fish resources, whether marine or freshwater, are highly migratory or straddle boundaries of national jurisdiction and/or the high seas. Their management requires regional co-ordination and data sharing. Fisheries management of internationally-shared stocks implies international obligations (e.g. to regional fishery organisations) for collecting and exchanging fishery data, as specified in the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
In order to accomplish the mandate of fish stock management on freshwater and marine straddling stocks and on the high seas, regional agencies may establish their own criteria on collection of statistics. These may be special variables to be collected in specific levels of detail or by specific strata (see Chapter 5). In most cases, data collected at national level can be used as the source for such data compilation, and simple extraction and aggregation of national data at an international level will be sufficient. However, in some cases the resolution requested internationally is finer than that normally used at the national level. Should that be the case, regional agencies must make every effort to ensure that their data requirements are well understood. In return, those in charge of collecting statistics at the national level should be well aware of the obligation to provide these data in the form required by regional agencies.