85. The Ad hoc Working Group of Experts (WG) adopted the following recommendations on the applicability of the Guidelines in relation to the improvement of the collection of capture fishery data in the region.
(1) The WG reviewed the Guidelines for the Routine Collection of Capture Fishery Data and commended the structured approach and framework which it provides for improved data collection through the evaluation of data needs and the implementation of cost-effective collection programmes. It recognized that this could contribute effectively to implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The WG recommended that the document be distributed widely to members of APFIC, MRC, SEAFDEC and SPC and other regional fishery organizations in the Asia-Pacific region and that FAO produce a flyer promoting the Guidelines and explaining their purpose and importance to policy makers. It was further recommended that, for the next version of the Guidelines, consideration be given to including a policy makers summary and refining the title.
(2) Given the increasing demand for reliable capture fishery data in response to concerns about the contribution of fisheries to food security, resource sustainability, impacts of fisheries on the ecosystem, and the need for caution when data are poor, the WG recommended that APFIC actively promote awareness at the highest national levels of the necessity to continuously review data needs and to provide adequate means to collect reliable data.
(3) The WG recommended that APFIC and other regional and sub-regional fishery organizations in the Asia-Pacific region actively promote implementation of the Guidelines in countries of the region through the conduct of workshops or training programmes at the regional or national level.
(4) The WG recommended that ongoing inter-agency communication and coordination and cross-sectoral briefing within countries be promoted to ensure that the multifaceted approach of the Guidelines is promoted through making the best use of all data collection, dissemination and analysis schemes for fisheries-related data. This could be accomplished through a national coordinating mechanism involving statisticians, scientists, fishery experts, fishery managers and policy makers.
(5) The WG recommended that countries apply the procedures in the Guidelines for particular fisheries and report this as case studies to APFIC. These case studies could be reviewed in a regional workshop on the implementation of the Guidelines.
(6) Considering the high cost of collecting capture fishery data and the prevalence of reductions in funding allocated by countries to statistical programmes, the WG recommended that countries ensure that adequate means are provided to collect reliable data through sustainable and cost effective programmes, irrespective of whether funds are provided from national sources or from partial or complete cost recovery, bearing in mind that failing to collect data can have a higher cost.
(7) The WG recommended that all programmes concerned with capture fishery data collection should contain mechanisms for timely validation of data, for specifying explicit data quality criteria and for assigning accountability for all steps of the process.
(8) The WG reiterated the advice of the former APFIC Joint Working Party on Fishery Statistics (Bangkok, Thailand, 19-23 August 1997) that there is an urgent need to improve species details in statistics collected for capture fisheries, particularly for the commercially important species. The WG further recommended that sub-sampling be employed to describe the main components of mixed-species landings, at least to the level of family or genus. To facilitate this, regional and sub-regional fishery organizations and countries are encouraged to prepare local species identification guides for enumerators so that at least the main species can be identified, and the remainder described as some taxonomic groupings.
(9) The WG recognized the valuable role that sample surveys can play in the collection of fishery statistics, particularly when funding is a constraint. In order to ensure that any sampling scheme remains appropriate, the WG recommended that the sampling design be continually monitored for its statistical validity and that list frame updating be undertaken when necessary.
(10) The WG recommended that FAO make available standard international classifications and codes in a form readily accessible to countries and that APFIC undertake a review of the classifications and codes to advise on any necessary modifications in order to meet regional needs.
(11) In order to ensure international comparability and consistency in fishery statistics and to facilitate efficient international exchange of fishery data, it is highly desirable that common terminologies, concepts, definitions, classifications and codes be harmonized in the region. The WG recommended that countries in the region adopt as far as possible standard international classifications and codes and that these be utilized in any international data exchange arrangements.
(12) The WG took note of the responsibilities of flag states in monitoring fishing activity and catches of its vessels as stated in the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Compliance Agreement, and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. It also took note of the refined formulation for assigning nationality to catch data which was agreed by the Eighteenth Session of the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (Luxembourg, 6-9 July 1999). The WG recommended that countries address these responsibilities by ensuring that reliable fishery data are collected from all national vessels irrespective of where the vessels are fishing and that, where necessary, such data are provided to regional fishery bodies or arrangements.
(13) The WG recommended that APFIC convene a workshop on alternative approaches to non-routine data collection for small-scale marine and inland fisheries, including socio-economic and environmental aspects.
(14) Recognizing the importance that feedback information derived from scrutiny and analysis of data can play in improving data quality, the WG recommended that national authorities disseminate fishery data as widely as possible in easily accessible form and encourage their analysis through collaborative work among statisticians and fishery experts in academic or other research institutions. This might be encouraged by giving recognition to fishery statisticians in statistical publications, research papers and other publications.