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9. The Committee was presented with and reviewed the outcomes of the Working Parties that had been instructed by the First Session, including:

A) Status and Trends Reporting in Fisheries

10. The ACFR considered the summary presentation of the results of the Working Party on Status and Trends of Fisheries (WP/STF), which had completed its first period of work with the preparation of a report on 3 December 1999. That report (Appendix E) provided detailed deliberations of a large number of issues that had been presented through several working papers and information documents which would be published at a later date as a single report.

11. The Committee noted that the WP/STF had identified key institutional and management issues that affect global reporting by FAO; ocean-area or species-group reporting by regional fishery bodies; and national reporting by countries and institutions. These issues included: data needs and availability; the conduct of fishery analysis (in particular on resource matters) by Working Groups; and the scope for and future of structured partnership arrangements to improve participation and inclusion in the preparation of reports, including through relevant non-governmental organizations. In particular, the report addressed the objectivity and transparency demands being increasingly placed on status and trends reports at all levels, and concluded that appropriate quality assurance procedures should always be applied, where practicable, including processes of peer review, certification and authentication of data, analytical methods and results. The Working Party also noted that advances in all these issues should be applied at all levels and that attention should be paid to enhancing developing country capacity to meet these demands equally.

12. The Committee further noted that the WP/STF had also considered work begun at FAO to develop improved systems for fishery reporting through the Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS) and the development of international standards and templates for a wide variety of fishery data. The report noted the work begun through the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) to include Living Marine Resources (LMR) and that FAO and the WP/STF have made progress to ensure integration with that programme.

13. The Committee considered the Working Party report to be a good response to its direction for work in this area but that future work should include the following:

14. The Committee welcomed the suggestion of the WP/STF to develop an International Plan of Action on Status and Trends Reporting (IPOA/STF) to be presented to the next ACFR Session and, if endorsed, to COFI - the Plan of Action which would include (in summary):

15. The Committee endorsed the report and recommendations of the WP/STF (Appendix E), and agreed to: (a) elaborate its own specific recommendations (see paragraph. 77) in support of the IPOA/STF; (b) recommend further support to the Fisheries Department for the development of FIGIS, and (c) suggest ways for the continuation and expansion of the role of the Working Party.

16. The Committee noted that the membership of the Working Party was weighted toward experts in fishery resources and large-scale capture fisheries. It recommended that members of ACFR be used to supplement the expertise of the Working Party in those areas that were under-represented, such as in inland fisheries and the social and economic dimension of fisheries.

B) Fish Trade and Food Security

17. The Committee noted the structure, conduct, participation and success of the FAO e-mail Conference on Fish Trade and Food Security undertaken to address the issue of globalization and its implications for fish trade and food security (Appendix F). More than 150 participants registered from a broad disciplinary and geographic background. It agreed that the detailed results, representing responses from 20 participants to the key issue papers from three authors, contained a large amount of useful information and opinion on food security, eco-labelling, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and other issues. In contrast to these, it noted the lack of responses on the issue of trade barriers (tariff and non-tariff) which possibly reflected the lack of fishery industry participation.

18. The Committee noted that although research-related activities were indicated in the report, the summarized outcome fell short of a research agenda in this regard, as this was an initial attempt to use this method.

19. The Committee recommended that future use of this method should:

20. The Committee agreed that the Working Group should continue its work and to this end provided a general research agenda given in Appendix J.

21. Noting the usefulness of the method in inclusion of a wide variety of participants, the Committee concluded that further investigation should be undertaken by FAO in its application to this and other research issues and that future conferences of this kind should seek even wider participation, particularly involving less-developed country respondents. The Committee recommended further consideration of how the Community Directory Server project of SIFAR might be used in this regard.

C) Participatory Research Methods

22. The Committee noted the structure, conduct, participation and success of the work undertaken to address the issue of new research methods, in particular through participatory research (Appendix G).

23. The Committee noted the value of this work and welcomed the report and emphasized the need to take into account the investigation of fisheries rights as part of the process of participatory research, particularly in small-scale fisheries. It also stressed the need for increased fishery industry involvement.

24. The Committee emphasized the need to refine the theoretical approach through the review and conduct of case studies and further specific investigations such as the evolution of changes of people's involvement in the collection of basic data, particularly in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture.

25. The Committee agreed that the role of participatory research in fisheries is important but recognized that there were limitations to its use and that there were particular differences which should be made between research undertaken for development and for other purposes, such as regulation of fisheries. It further noted that it should not be used as a substitute for other methods including formal scientific methods but a supplement to the range of research techniques that should be taken into account, particularly in relation to small-scale fisheries, including inland fisheries and aquaculture.

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