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Country Reports

7. The needs of the APFIC Member Countries for more reliable capture fishery data were assessed based on the country papers presented, which discussed the present status of capture fishery statistics and the problems and constraints countries faced in collecting such statistics.


8. The expert from Australia described the organizations responsible for the collection of fishery statistics and the development of such statistics in his country. The coordination of fisheries statistics collection issues between jurisdictions is achieved through the Fisheries Statistics Working Group (FSWG). The FSWG reports to the Research Committee of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (SCFA). SCFA consists of the State and Commonwealth Directors of Fisheries, which in turn reports to the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture (MCFFA). MCFFA consists of the State and Commonwealth Ministers for fisheries.

9. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) is one of the committees that collects a range of economic statistics for fishery management purposes, through the conduct of economic surveys of the fishery industry. In Australia, industry cooperation has facilitated the generation of good quality data especially on catch-effort which are extracted from the licensing records and logbooks.

10. In cases where validation of data could not be made possible because of lack of resources, alternative data collection systems should be developed. Australia, for example, makes use of a vessel monitoring system through the INMARSAT for location tracking. The system also allows for observers to work on board foreign vessels. This strategy has led to an effective exchange of data within 24 hours after landing, thus facilitating validation of catch data. Australia is also developing a system of electronic logbooks to be implemented soon. Fishery-related data such as information on the ecosystems, socio-economics and potential ecological impacts of fisheries are collected by another office, the Australian Fishery Management Authority. In an effort to enhance the accessibility of collected data to users, Australia has made its fishery statistics available through its website in the internet for wider usage.

11. In Australia, the costs of data collection are paid by the fishing industry players. This takes out the financial burden from the agencies collecting the data. In some states, this is made possible through levies collected at the centralized fish markets where all fishery products pass. Although the levies have not led to 100% cost recovery, the intention is to achieve full cost recovery in the future.


12. The expert from China presented the current status of marine fishery statistics in China. It was noted that China had been successful in the conservation of its marine resources by controlling fishing. Closed seasons had been implemented in some fisheries with full support from the fishermen. It was expected that such closed seasons would lead to the attainment of the country’s “zero growth” target the marine fishery production in 1999.

13. The Bureau of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture which is responsible for the compilation of the national fishery statistics of China gathers data from two original sources, government and folk sources. The government source is the national fisheries information system of the Ministry of Agriculture which has developed a nationwide tabulation system of fishery statistics collected through the network of local fisheries branches. The folk sources, on the other hand, are the non-government and semi-government associations whose business information are exchanged through their members.

14. Collection of fishery data in China is done regularly from the grassroots such as the villages, aggregated at township, county and provincial levels and then finally at the central government level. Data items included production, labor force, and fishing vessel information. The production data are aggregated and processed by production area, fishing gear and by species. After the processing of data, the Ministry of Agriculture disseminates monthly for data from important fisheries provinces, semi-annual data for some provinces, or annual for data other provinces, autonomous regions, municipal cities directly under the jurisdiction of the central government.

15. The expert from China suggested that training on computer usage and statistical methodology at the township level will strengthen the statistical programs and systems in China. Such training of personnel will upgrade their capabilities in collecting more accurate, reliable and timely data.


16. The expert from Indonesia, in presenting the status of fishery data collection in his country, mentioned that the Production Survey developed in the late 70s is the same method used in data collection for its Fishery Statistical Report. For capture fisheries, data collected include number of fishery establishments, fishing boats, fishing trips, and quantity and value of catch by species. Three approaches are used to collect the data, namely, collecting reports from fishing companies, sample surveys of selected major landing centers, and sample surveys of the villages.

17. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in Indonesia is responsible for the collection of basic data while sectoral data are collected by the respective sectors. The Directorate General of Fisheries of Indonesia collects and releases fishery statistics in the. Fishery Statistical Report of Indonesia.

18. The conduct of the production survey in Indonesia has always been constrained with numerous issues leading to the delay in the completion of the survey. Among the problems of the survey are the use of outdated survey frame greatly affecting the raising factors in estimating the data at the district levels; the insufficient number of enumerators has slowed down or in some cases resulted in uncompleted surveys; and the lack of concern and little support shown by the local government during the conduct of surveys. One major problem arose when the 5% auction levy was abolished by the government. The fee was a source of revenue which associations used in maintaining and operating auction facilities. Since the abolition, auctions were no longer carried out, thus making it difficult for the data collectors to monitor and accurately report the species of fish landed.

19. The Indonesian experience in data collection procedures has shown that sample survey have been more effective than complete enumeration because of the archipelagic geography of the country. One of the advantages of using sample survey over complete enumeration is its lesser human resource requirement.

20. Since not all enumerators in Indonesia have fishery background, they are provided with guide books on species and gear. The guide books are frequently revised to take into consideration the numerous fish species and their different local names.


21. Due to illness, the expert from Malaysia was unable to attend the meeting. However, his country report was presented to the meeting.

22. Malaysia collects catch and effort data to determine the status of the country’s fishery industry as well as for improved fishery management. With these objectives, its data collection programmes have been well planned and have been given priority and importance by its government in terms of human and technical support making the country’s data collection system effective and sustainable.

23. The National Database Management System in Malaysia takes care of the collection of catch and effort data. Government uses the indicators produced by the system to monitor fishery development in the country. Based on such data, it can be seen that the level of marine capture fisheries production is sustainable, even with the production from the coastal waters maintained at a maximum level.


24. The expert from the Philippines and Chairman of the Ad hoc Working Group presented the general procedures for the generation of fishery statistics in his country which included the conduct of surveys of the commercial and municipal fisheries as well as surveys of inland municipal households. The surveys on commercial and municipal fisheries are conducted every other day at sample landing centers during peak hours of unloading, while the surveys of inland municipal households are conducted semi-annually.

25. In the surveys conducted, the frame used is based on the 1992 list of landing centers. The list of landing centers for the top 20 producing provinces was last updated in 1995.

26. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) is responsible for the conduct of fishery surveys and in the generation of fishery data which it publishes in the Fishery Statistics Report of the Philippines. On the other hand, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) collects data for stock assessment, cost and return and the like from its socio-economic investigations.

27. The decentralization of data processing has been effective in generating the country’s capture fishery data in terms of quality and timeliness. Accessibility of data to the users, however, is an area that needs to be improved.

28. A number of constraints have been identified in data collection in the Philippines. These included the need to lower-disaggregated data especially at the provincial level; the presence of a gap of knowledge in production losses which could not be accounted for; and the lack of funds allocated to data collecting agencies such as BAS.

29. It was suggested that the quality of statistics can be improved by enhancing the capacity of the BAS to collect, process and disseminate statistical data. This can be achieved by streamlining its organizational structure, pursuing an aggressive human resource development programme through training, installing an information technology (IT)-based data handling system and providing adequate funding to support its operations.

Sri Lanka

30. The expert from Sri Lanka, in presenting the status of the fishery data collection of his country, explained that the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of marine fishery statistics is the responsibility of the Statistical Unit of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development. The data generated are used in the national planning, policy formulation, and project monitoring by his government as well as local and international organizations needing such data.

31. Sri Lanka adopts three types of systems for marine fishery data collection, namely, total enumeration for coastal fisheries, sample survey methodology for coastal fishing, and the use of logbooks for offshore and deep sea fisheries. The data on fish catch by major species is monitored by ocular inspection under normal situations. Producer and retail prices by main species and fishing craft are collected as ancillary information.

32. For the coastal fishery sampling programme, the primary sampling units are boats which are stratified as either large pelagic fishery, small pelagic fishery, demersal fishery, or crustacean fishery. On the other hand, about 200 logbooks have been distributed to boat owners for the estimation of offshore and deep sea fishery production. It was however noted that the use of different classification of sampling units could lead to the difficulty in harmonizing the data collected from Sri Lanka with those from the other countries in the region.

33. Among the major problems in data collection in Sri Lanka are the shortage of data collectors and the absence of a sampling frame for collecting data on fishing gear which are mostly of the traditional type.


34. The expert from Thailand emphasized that his country has paid much attention on the establishment and improvement of fishery data collection system. The Department of Fisheries (DOF) collects fishery data in general through sampling surveys. The Fish Marketing Organization (FMO) collects data on fish landings and prices of fish landed at FMO landing centers. In addition, specific research programmes also generate specific fishery data. The National Statistics Office (NSO) collects fishery data through census and follows this up with sampling census of marine fishery every five years after the decennial census is conducted.

35. Although current fishery data may be adequate for national needs, the data collection system of Thailand is constrained with the unreliability of data brought about by the inability of data collectors to perform their assigned tasks. In the case of inland capture fisheries, data are not always reliable due to the lack of list frame on total number of fishing boats, fishing gear by type and by fishermen.

36. Other problems in fishery data collection in Thailand include the delay in the dissemination of fishery statistics reports resulting from lack of manpower and slow promotion of data collection officers, as well as the absence of an appropriate data interpretation system. It is expected that the reorganization of the statistics and information offices within the DOF would help solve most of the problems encountered in data collection.

United States of America

37. The expert from the United States of America (USA) described the data collection systems in the Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, and West Coast of the USA. He informed that each state in these areas has its own system of collecting data. It was explained that data collected in logbooks are verified against the data reported by observers on board the fishing as part of the vessel monitoring system (VMS) which is used to collect research data as well as data on certain fisheries.


38. In the presentation of the status of capture fishery data of Vietnam, the expert from Vietnam mentioned that the fishery statistics published by his country could not compare with the statistics of countries in the South China Sea area as far as comprehensiveness and reliability are concerned. Every province has its own collection system, but the data obtained are insufficient. The system of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) for fisheries has been adopted in Vietnam but this too has not attained the desired level of performance.

39. Among the many constraints encountered in the data collection in Vietnam are the negative attitude of some fishery managers towards improving the collection system; the conduct of census only when needed by planners; the unreliability of data provided in logbooks; and the conduct of sampling surveys solely for the purpose of economic planning and not for stock assessment.

40. In an effort to establish, in the shortest time possible, a system for fishery data collection reflecting the real status of fisheries in the country, Vietnam sought the assistance of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) in the implementation of the project on the Assessment of the Living Marine Resources in Vietnam (ALMRV) for a nationwide fishery data collection system.

41. The ALMRV deals with surveys and other activities concerned with living marine resources. These include the distribution, migration, biology, propagation, stock assessment, catch potential, and conservation of the marine resources. ALMRV also collects information on gear, effort and the fishing grounds. Its main sources of data are the skippers and middlemen, as well as provincial fishery departments which control the fishing vessel registries. The project initially focuses on the key fishery provinces of Vietnam but intends to cover the whole country in the next five years.

42. After a thorough assessment of the national data collection systems in Vietnam, it was the consensus that the weakness of statistics in the region are most greatly manifested in the areas of collection, packaging and interpretation of the data.

43. Specifically, the collection of statistics in the region is still weak at the bottom because of the lack of adequately trained enumerators. Statistics is also weak at the top because of the absence of a proper interpretation of the fishery data attributed to the inadequacy of expertise in data interpretation and the lack of appreciation for the need to interpret data. To some extent this could be also due to the inappropriate means of data presentation. Lastly, statistics are generally weak because it existing laws and regulations do not have the clout to enforce statistical requirements and standards.

Sub-regional and Regional Organizations

44. The data collection systems adopted by sub-regional and regional organizations represented at the meeting were also discussed. The discussion focused on how these systems could help in the improvement of the data collection systems in countries in the region.

Mekong River Commission (MRC)

45. The expert from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) presented in brief the thrusts of MRC and impressed upon the Experts the significance of inland capture fishery resources of the Mekong River basin. An appropriate data collection system is being developed with the aim of improving the management of the resources in this most productive aquatic ecosystem in the region. However, it is recognized that an over-all resource assessment of the Mekong River basin may be difficult to undertake at present because of the difficulty of obtaining reliable data for the inland capture fisheries in the basin.

Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC)

46. The expert from the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) presented in brief the organizational structure, functions, and thrusts of SEAFDEC, including its role in promoting the improvement of fishery statistical collection and reporting in the region. This effort was carried out by SEAFDEC through a series of workshops on fishery statistics aimed at unifying the statistical standards of collection, compilation and processing of fishery data. One of the major outputs of the earlier workshops was the Fishery Statistical Bulletin of the South China Sea Area published annually by SEAFDEC since 1978. In addition, the SEAFDEC Department in Malaysia also collects statistics on tuna fisheries in Southeast Asia.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)

47. The expert from the Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) explained that SPC primarily provides advice to their member countries on three areas, namely, tuna fisheries statistics, tuna biology/ecology and stock assessment and modelling. For tuna fisheries statistics, SPC has developed databases for its member countries, and provides information to the tuna research and assessment sections. At this stage, SPC has concentrated on the collection of regional fishery statistics for the tuna fishery. However, a major project to be undertaken by the Coastal Fisheries Programme (CFP) of the SPC, will endeavour to improve the collection of fishery statistics for the coastal resources, both at regional and national level.


48. FAO for its part has promoted the implementation of various instruments concerning the collection and exchange of fisheries data. These instruments include the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Compliance Agreement, and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Although these instruments do not dictate nor obligate countries on how to collect data, there is a general duty for countries to collect data on their fishing vessels’ operations and to share these with agencies or countries concerned with respect to shared stocks. Because of that obligation for countries to share available data, there is the need for such data to be exchanged in internationally-agreed manner, using standard formats and codes.

49. Thus, the role of FAO is to assist and facilitate the development of statistical systems guided by these instruments, in order that data collected are acceptable at the international level thus maintaining the compatibility and comparability of such data. The Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) has agreed that a formulation for assigning responsibility for reporting data is needed. This would eliminate misreporting or double counting of data in confusing cases such as joint-fishing ventures or access agreements through the formulation of the definition of the nationality of catch data. The responsibility for reporting fishing activities and catch data lies firmly with the flag states.

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