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The research-related activities cover fishery information in support of research, fishery resources and aquaculture, fishing technology and fish utilization and marketing, as well as planning and policy. The activities are undertaken in partnership with other Units and Departments within FAO as well as with national and international centres of excellence. The Committee is invited to appraise the scope and substance of these activities and indicate, as appropriate, where, what and how improvements could be made for increased effectiveness and efficiency.


1. In October 1995 the FAO Secretariat presented and the Members unanimously adopted, an international Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, as a necessary framework for national and international efforts to ensure sustainable exploitation of aquatic living resources in harmony with the environment. FAO under the direction of the Governing Bodies is in the process of developing a strategic framework for the period 2000-2015. The framework organizes all the Department activities including research-related activities in a coherent programme for the 1998-99 biennium and for the medium term 2000-2005.

2. FAO Members and others require assistance in putting in place policies and measures designed to promote sustainability in fisheries. FAO has a comparative advantage in the promotion of broad-based programmes focused on development and management themes and concepts with research-related activities and components in support of the implementation of the relevant policies and strategies.

3. Research-related activities of the Fisheries Department during the period 1998-2001 would contribute to the following medium-term objectives for FAO Fisheries Programme 2.3 and to the objectives for research defined in paragraph 14 of document ACFR/99/5, Part I.

4. The five medium-term objectives of the Department are:

5. Only one programme entity "Standardization and validation of DNA-based molecular diagnostic techniques for the detection of aquatic animal pathogens and diseases" is expected to begin in the year 2000. In other words, most of research-related programme entities to be undertaken in the 2000-2001 biennium have been started in the present biennium or earlier.

6. The following are brief descriptions of some of the activities undertaken in the 1998-99 biennium or planned for the next biennium.



(a) Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (AFSA)

Objective: To provide Members and the international community with authoritative bibliographic information on aquatic sciences and fisheries as required for research, policy-making and management, particularly addressing the needs in developing countries.

Problem/Issue: The building blocks of technological development and management decisions are technological and scientific research information. In thousands of research projects, information is being generated which could help to solve many of the world's food problems. The transfer of information is necessary for economic development to take place and information resulting from past, present and future aquatic research needs to be shared among all nations, developed and developing alike.

The ASFA Secretariat facilitates the development of ASFA and coordinates the input of the ASFA Partners by maintaining the ASFA reference series, developing input tools, providing training, and facilitating ASFA development projects funded by the ASFA Trust Fund. A major effort is underway to promote access to ASFA in low-income food-deficit countries in Africa and input of African data into ASFA. Input is prepared by the ASFA Partners to cover as comprehensive a set of titles as possible. In return, Partners receive ASFA products according to the amount of input that they prepare. ASFA is sold as several different products through a commercial publisher which pays royalties to the ASFA Trust Fund which is used for the further development of ASFA, particularly in developing countries.

Collaboration: ASFA is co-sponsored by four United Nations organizations (FAO, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UN-DOALOS), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and is based on a network of 32 national and international cooperating ASFA Partners which monitor the world's aquatic science literature. FAO, as the systems Secretariat, coordinates the technical and administrative aspects of the system. The production aspects of the ASFA system are based on a cooperative arrangement between FAO and a commercial publisher.

Input undertaken by all Partners is reviewed annually by the ASFA Advisory Board which also reviews completeness of coverage of the monitored titles. From time to time studies are made of subject coverage (e.g. for economics, law, food technology). The performance of the system is judged by its commercial success as well as its reach in developing countries

Main accomplishments: The ASFA bibliographic database is recognized as one of the prime sources of aquatic science information in the world (e.g. by International Association for Marine Sciences Libraries and Information Centres (IAMSLIC).

Performance assessment: The ASFA database contains over 650 000 bibliographic records. Each month approximately 3 500 new references are added. At present the ASFA system uses various means to disseminate information. There are five printed ASFA abstract journals which are issued on a monthly and/or quarterly bases. There are two quarterly ASFA CD-ROM products, and an Internet accessible version. A copy of the ASFA magnetic tape is sent each month to some national ASFA Partners for use in local or international online retrieval systems. The ASFA database is also available to the public through commercial online database vendors.

Main constraints: The decentralized nature of the ASFA system requires a continuing effort with regard to standardizing input methodology, training, and quality control.

Estimated costs: Costs to FAO are approximately US$ 350 000 per year, of which about 90 percent are staff costs. Each year the ASFA system earns approximately US$ 70 000 royalties from sale and use of the ASFA products from non-participants in the system. This money is returned to the system for further development. Under a new publishing agreement, this income is expected to rise to well over US$ 100 000 per year.

The costs of participation at meetings and inputs to the system are met by the partners themselves.

Time-frame: continuous

(b) Library and Information Services in support of fisheries research

Objectives: To provide access to information in support of fisheries research by means of the collection, organization and management of fisheries research information (print, multi-media, internet).

To provide access to, and dissemination of, the published information of the FAO Fisheries Department in support of fisheries research in member countries.

To provide assistance and advice to fisheries institutions in developing countries on the organization of library resources and services.

Problem/Issue: Information is an integral part of research, from the initiation of a research programme to the preservation and dissemination of its research results. FAO information sources are often among the few (if not the only ones) that many developing countries can afford.

Approach: As an integral part of the work of the Fisheries Department, the Library is able to select and disseminate relevant information and to have close links with the broad spectrum of external organizations with which the Department collaborates.



As part of the FAO Library, the Fisheries Library has access to global information resources, broader expertise and dissemination mechanisms maintained by the Library and Documentation Systems Division (GIL) and the Information Division (GII) collaborates in the dissemination and sales of Fisheries Department Publications. FAO Regional and Sub-Regional Fishery Officers, Fisheries Field Projects provide a variety of information including their publications for inclusion in the institutional memory of FAO and in various databases.

The Fishery Library collaborates also with other Library networks (e.g. IAMSLIC, Regional Cooperation in Scientific Information Exchange (RECOSCIX) - dissemination of FAO information), the EU DG VIII/FISHBASE Steering Committee - coordination of support to libraries, donor organizations (e.g. Commonwealth Secretariat, Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) - advice on fisheries library/information services in National Agricultural Research System(s) (NARS), and NGOs (e.g. International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), Coalition for Fair Fishery Agreements (CFFA), Catholic Relief Service (Care). There are also many informal arrangements.

Performance assessment: Library Committee and user feedback. Annual Library activity report details numbers of inquiries and visitors by region. No fully adequate mechanism.

Main Accomplishments: Managing to maintain most services despite diminishing resources in FAO Library. Widely respected for staff's specialist knowledge of fisheries information and active support to internal and external users.

Main constraints: Insufficient importance attached to information in fisheries research. Lack of qualified library staff in many NARS. Inadequate (cost and technology) access to information. Diminishing resources in FAO Library. Depend on external funding for assistance to national institution libraries

Estimated costs: The budget covers the cost of two General Service Staff US$ 103 000 and one Librarian US$ 95 000 as well as approximately US$ 45 000 for acquisitions.

Time-frame: continuous

(c) Development of a fisheries global information system (FIGIS)

Objective: Develop an integrated system of information on fishery resources, fisheries, fishing fleets and aquaculture, widely accessible through Internet to all FAO Members, partners and clients. Improve information flow from and to FAO through enhanced networking.

Problem/Issue: For many years the valuable compilation work undertaken by FAO resulting in the publication of global fisheries statistics, together with other information, has provided some of the basis for global assessments on the status of fisheries and their resources as well as their environment. However, new responsibilities faced by States lead to an increasing need for reliable, timely, comprehensive and integrated information from an objective source.

Approach: Improvement and integration of all data bases and information streams of the Department. Optimization of Web access and use of Web technology networking with information providers and development of client-oriented approach.

Collaboration: All FI services are collaborating in specifying their requirements and providing existing data bases or developing new ones. The FAO World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) provides FAO information system policy aspects, and allocates a part time software developer resource. Fisheries centres of excellence and regional fishery bodies are the main potential partners.

Performance assessment: Performance will be assessed first in relation to the timely delivery of the 18 planned information Fisheries and Sub-systems. Future performance will be assessed through monitoring of the Web Site activity and review by the Committee on Fisheries (COFI).

Main accomplishments: System feasibility study completed and agreed at FAO corporate level. Development team trained and operational. Main potential partners made aware of the project and interest to collaborate expressed in principle. Most of internal user requirements specified in detail. Detailed design and development of dissemination software ongoing. Operational prototype delivery expected in November 1999.

Main constraints: Development costs higher than initially planned, due to very high rates of experienced system architect and programmers.

Estimated costs: The donor contribution to the project budget is set at US$ 1 568 000 over a period of five years, and the Fisheries Department contribution will almost double that figure. Additional projects will probably need to be formulated to supplement these funds in order to enhance the currently planned information content and functionality.

Time-frame: continuous

(d) Global fishery statistics for research purposes

Objective: To provide member countries and the international community with authoritative, reliable and timely global fisheries statistics on fisheries and aquaculture and on their contribution to the world food supply.

Approach: Annual statistical inquiries are sent to Members and returns are screened for quality and compared with information available from alternative sources (e.g. publications, project documents, regional fishery bodies). Where reported statistics are lacking or are considered unreliable, and where dialogue with the country has failed to resolve the problems, FAO estimates are prepared based on the best information available. For catch statistics, regional fishery bodies are generally regarded as holding the most reliable data for their region, and procedures are being prepared to replace systematically FAO statistics with regional data where discrepancies occur. Norms, standards, definitions and classifications for fishery statistics are developed by FAO in consultation with regional fishery bodies and other relevant agencies working through the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) which also coordinates agency statistical programmes so as to minimize the reporting burden on countries.

Advice and technical assistance is provided to countries on statistics collection and processing programmes. This is undertaken through regional workshops, assistance projects and direct advice. Generic software has been developed which can be tailored to meet local needs for collecting and processing statistics.

Collaboration: Collaboration takes place with FAO Statistics Division (ESS) on the development of national statistical systems (e.g. through World Bank funded projects under the Focus Programme. Collaboration with ESS and WAICENT in maintaining corporate databases including food balance sheets.

Collaboration with partner organizations is mainly undertaken through the CWP which has as its members: Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), FAO Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), International Whaling Commission (IWC), North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Eurostat. Collaboration is also maintained with the UN Statistics Division, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (I-ATTC) and the emerging Southeast Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO).

Collaboration is planned with the Commodities and Trade Division (ESC) of FAO as well as the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on better incorporating fish in world food models for supply and demand projections.

Performance assessment: Some indicators of usage of statistics are the number of Fishery Statistics Yearbooks distributed (approx. 5 000 copies), the number of requests made to FIDI concerning statistics (approx. 800 in 1998 requiring over 500 hours to answer), the number of visits to the "Databases and Statistics" page of the FAO Fisheries Web Site (approx. 12 000 in 1998; this is the most visited page on the Fisheries site).

Indicators of quality and reliability of statistics are much more problematical. Measures of the level of classification desegregation (e.g. level of species detail for catch data or processed product detail for fishery commodities) have generally shown improving trends (with some notable exceptions such as inland water catch data).

Accuracy is usually difficult to measure. Overall consistency among statistics on fishery production (capture and aquaculture), disposition to food and non-food use, and commodity production and trade are checked each year through the construction of national food balance sheets which are used to calculate apparent consumption statistics and measure the contribution of fish to national protein supply. The food balance sheets often identify errors in the data. Other analyses reveal inconsistencies and suspect data.

Main accomplishments and significance:. Statistics are published regularly on capture fishery production, aquaculture production, fishery commodity production and trade, fish consumption, fishing fleets and numbers of fishers. Almost all global analyses and reviews concerning fisheries made in FAO and outside ICLARM, World Resources Institute (WRI) and UN use and cite FAO statistics. They form the primary data set for FAO's world reviews of inland fishery resources, marine fishery resources, and aquaculture as well as the report on the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA).

Main constraints: The reliability of the statistics is variable but difficult to improve upon due to an absence of alternative sources when official ones are deficient. Insufficient resources for national statistics gathering programmes is a common constraint at the national level. Despite FAO Members ranking statistics as top priority work for FAO in a recent survey, national statistics programmes are often not accorded the necessary priority.

Estimated costs: Approximately $ 1 300 000 per year, of which about 85 percent are staff costs.

Time-frame: continuous


(a) Aquaculture networks for the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

Objective: To coordinate information, research and development aspects for promotion of aquaculture in the Mediterranean.

Approach used: Development of a regional collaborative information system with Secretariat in Tunisia. Development of a Web platform.

Cooperation: Coordination with International Centre for Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and the various laboratories and institutions in the region. Co-financing of activities with FAO Regular Programme resources, CIHEAM and recipient institution. Private sector participation is encouraged. Each of the partners is a specialized institution e.g. SELAM (social, economic and legal aspects), TECAM (technical and biological aspects) and EAM (for environment and aquaculture). Government of Tunisia Ministry of Agriculture as host of the Secretariat of SIPAM (information systems for aquaculture). In FAO, the Fishery Industries Division (FII) for aspects related to economics and marketing and quality control, Development Planning Service (FIPP) for aspects related to planning, Marine Resources Service (FIRM) for database development expertise.

Performance assessment: Through the GFCM Committee on Aquaculture, and through the Coordinating Committee of networks, which meet at CIHEAM on average every two years.

Main outputs: An information system for promotion of aquaculture in the Mediterranean (SIPAM) involving 13 countries, and a progressive improvement of the software used by the countries. In TECAM, SELAM and EAM, proceedings of the seminars and main workshops issued in the CIHEAM series "Cahiers Mediterranéens". Courses for technicians on laboratory practices for fish diseases, hatchery management, and offshore cages. Improved contacts between researchers and the private sector to exchange information on new species, economic aspects of aquaculture production, marketing, genetics, nutrition, planning, etc. Attendance at the seminars and workshops has been high.

Main constraints: Limitation in funding for the number of topics to be addressed. The delay in determining the autonomous budget of GFCM and the progressive shortage of funds in CIHEAM due to the renegotiations of the EC project (DG 1) which has allowed the funding of the networks up to 1997.

Budget: Varies depending on the years. In the last two years, the budget can be estimated at around US $ 170 000 from all sources involved.

Time-frame: Continuous

(b) Promotion of radio telemetry for assessment of inland fishery resources

Objective: Improve information exchange on radio telemetry as a management tool for developing countries.

Problem/Issue: Sustainable fisheries management needs reliable information on fish stocks distribution and movements and radio telemetry has widely and successfully been applied in Europe and North America for assessment of inland fisheries resources.

Approach: Workshops on the potential use and usefulness of radio telemetry in developing countries on the basis of existing experience. Review papers would be prepared. It is planned to hold training courses as part of the technology transfer. If the planned approach proves useful, radio telemetry components could be incorporated into field projects.

Cooperation: FAO Fisheries Department; Research Institute for Development (IRD) (ex-ORSTOM); possibly some Universities (e.g. Liege, Belgium; Waterloo, Canada); Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).

Performance assessment: Data quality will be assessed by an expert panel to be set up. Meetings and publications. Degree of incorporation of telemetry in field projects and national activities.

Main outputs: Internet Website; publications; review documents widely circulated; use of radio telemetry in field projects.

Main constraints: Funds are limited and outside funding has to be sought. Costs might be high for staff time, translation into languages other than English, and equipment for the field projects. Initially, the national capacity in integrating radio telemetry in field projects might be very limited.

Budget: Approx. US$ 70 000 not including FAO staff time.

Time-frame: 1999 - 2001

(c) Rapid appraisal methodologies:Rrra and Pra applied to aquaculture

Objective: Adapt and simplify appraisal methodologies such as Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), used in other agriculture activities to aquaculture cases.

Problem/Issue: Appraisal methodologies are of extreme importance in aquaculture due to site-location and target-group identification problems strongly related to social, cultural and economic variables.

Approach: A paper on the subject was published in English (FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 358) which is about to be published in Spanish.

Case studies of RRA, PRA application in aquaculture are being collected to be synthesized and presented in an FAO/ICLARM Workshop (ICLARM Headquarters in Manila, November 1999).

Cooperations: Institutions that will contribute with case studies: ICLARM, University of Stirling (UK) and FAO. Within FAO Headquarters, there is an active informal group working on this subject linking all the Services with some related activity.

Performance assessment: We are in the phase of receiving case studies, controlling their quality and beginning the integration in order to produce the synthesis, which will be the main input for the Workshop. Once published, a feedback mechanism will be set up in order to evaluate the usefulness of the Manual.

Main outputs: A technical paper (manual) on the use of RRA, PRA in aquaculture will contribute as a tool to solve numerous important problems for the formulation and implementation of aquaculture projects (particularly, small-scale rural aquaculture).

Main constraints: Lack of information on past projects, differences in the types of projects, lack of experience of appraisal teams.

Budget: US$ 14 000 to hold the Workshop (FAO Regular Programme); US$ 5 000 for an author's contract to prepare the synthesis; US$ 25 000 for the publication of final paper in English and Spanish.

Time-frame: October 1999: synthesis of case studies ready; 1-3 November 1999: Workshop; March/April 2000: publication of paper.

(d) Fishery enhancement

Objective: To identify appropriate technologies to enhance fisheries production in developing areas. Assessing risk associated with enhancement.

Problem/Issue: Enhancement is often not effective, or cost-effective and could endanger biodiversity or socio-economic situation in an area.

Approach: Consultations, synthesis and review documents on enhancement and how to assess risk.

Cooperation: University of California; Imperial College, Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID), Iran (Islamic Republic of), Japan, Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, in progress of starting collaboration).

Performance assessment: Meetings and publications, implementation of field projects and increased fisheries and improved communities

Main outputs: Review documents widely circulated, appropriate techniques adopted by field projects

Main constraints: Coordinating large regions such as the Caspian Sea, improper risk assessment methods, numerous stakeholders with competing priorities for use of aquatic ecosystems.

Budget: Approx. US$ 50 000 not including FAO staff time.

Time-frame: Ongoing.

(e) Standardization and validation of DNA-based molecular diagnostic techniques for the detection of aquatic animal pathogens and disease


Approach: Conducted an ad hoc Expert Consultation in February 1999, which brought together about 25 experts currently working on the development of DNA-based rapid diagnostic techniques for the detection of aquatic animal pathogens, along with representatives from concerned international donor agencies.


Performance Assessment: Proceedings are being finalized. Recommendations will be incorporated into the research programmes of the organizations and agencies involved in the consultation. Report will be distributed among interested agencies. By conducting expert consultations and review workshops, the uptake of the recommendations can be monitored.

Main outputs: The further development and use of DNA-based diagnostic techniques hold promise of international efforts to control the introduction of exotic diseases into new geographic areas. Reliable and rapid techniques are needed by national and regional diagnostics laboratories to screen imported fish and shellfish for important pathogens. OIE/FAO/NACA have developed and maintain a list of pathogens of concern to member countries in Asia, with listed diseases being classified as either "notifiable" or "other significant diseases". When considering a disease as a potential candidate for addition to the list, an important criterion for "notifiable" status is the availability of a standardized, validated, accurate and reliable diagnostic technique to identify infected animals. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop and standardize/validate rapid diagnostic techniques for major aquatic animal diseases and pathogens. This consultation generated recommendations for such developments, which are now being incorporated into individual research agendas of various institutions and agencies.

Main constraints: FAO has limited funds for research. All bench research has to be done at standardized laboratories. Collaborated research is encouraged.

Budget: Not known at present

Time-frame: 2000/2002


(a) Reduction of the environmental impacts from tropical shrimp trawl fisheries

Objective: The objective of this activity, which involves research as well as technology transfer, is to assist developing countries to meet their obligations relating to the sustainable use of marine living resources and responsible fisheries in general, and specifically to take action aiming to remove the technical, human and economical barriers to the use of appropriate by-catch minimization technologies, and measures to reduce habitat degradation and destruction from shrimp trawl fisheries in tropical regions.

Problem/Issue: There is an international awareness about the ecological impacts from trawling, particularly with regard to catch of non-target organisms, which are often discarded at sea, and a growing concern that trawling might be harmful to the bottom habitat. Tropical shrimp trawl fisheries generate more by-catch than any other type of fishery; in the order of 5.8 million t, which is almost six times the catch of shrimp landed. Although several devices have been developed and proved to be efficient in the reduction of by-catches, like turtles and non-targeted fish, such devices are not widely used and most of the systems are still imperfect to solve problems where juvenile fish is the major by-catch to be avoided.

Approach: The approach will involve the identification of new methodologies, their adaptation to tropical conditions and the identification and reduction of impacts.

The project was jointly developed by FAO and UNEP/GEF with the objective of assisting developing tropical countries in the implementation of shrimp trawl technologies and practices with reduced environmental impact.

The project is anticipated to have two phases, of which the first is the project development and preparatory phase with a duration of 15 months.

The second phase will have a duration of several years and will focus on the removal of barriers preventing the use of appropriate by-catch reduction technologies and the introduction of measures to reduce habitat degradation and destruction.


Inside FAO

- Collaboration with the Fishery Resources Division, Fishery Policy and Planning Division, Legal Office, Sustainable Development Department. For the execution of the project multi-disciplinary expertise is required, therefore a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was established. Members of the TAC are representatives from all concerned Services.
Outside FAO
- Cooperation with Global Environmental Facilities and governmental and non-governmental authorities of the participating countries.
Performance Assessment:
- Backstopping by the FAO project team

- National coordinators progress reports

- Regular feedback from cooperating services

Main accomplishments: The major impact of such a project should be to reduce discards from shrimp fisheries, in particular reduced catches of juveniles which can contribute to increased resource base of important food fish species. Another important outcome should be that shrimp fisheries in tropical areas will improve their environmental image so that shrimp fishing can continue as an important economical sound fishery in developing countries, which might have major export earnings from shrimp products.

Main constraints: Coordination effort because of different rules and procedures in the two UN organizations (UNEP/GEF and FAO)

Estimated costs: For the preparatory phase (15 months during 1999/2000)

- US$ 330 000 from GEF

- US$ 60 000 from FAO (excluding FAO staff cost)

Time-frame: 1999-2000

(b) Study/monitoring of economic viability and techno-economic efficiency of marine capture fisheries

Objective: To identify the factors which contribute to and/or negatively affect economic viability, techno-economic efficiency and sustainability of marine fisheries. To provide guidance to fishermen and their associations, fisheries administrations, NGOs, financial institutions, investors and others, on how to enhance the economic performance and sustainability of fishing operations and on the scope and need for diversification and reduction of fishing effort and on related use, reduction and withdrawal of economic and financial incentives and subsidies.

Problem/Issue: Marine fisheries play an important economic, nutritional and social role, both in developing and developed countries. They generate employment, income and foreign exchange earnings, contribute to food security and to meeting nutritional needs. In recent years, because of over-exploitation of fishery resources, degradation of the coastal environment, other uses of coastal areas and other factors, it has become more and more difficult for the fisheries sector to fulfil this role, as the economic and financial viability of fishing operations and their sustainability is threatened, and with it the livelihoods and food security of those who depend on fishing.

Approach: In cooperation with national fisheries research institutions and fisheries administrations, empirical information is collected on:

- operational/technological characteristics of major fishing fleets operating at the national level;

- on the techno-economic and financial performance and operational characteristics of sample fishing units;

- on financial services and economic incentives/subsidies available to the fisheries sector and on special fiscal policies and measures;

- levels of exploitation of fisheries resources;

- national plans for fleet restructuring and adjustment.

The information is then analysed and the findings are discussed in inter-regional workshops, which are attended by representatives of the fishing industry, NGOs, fisheries researchers, fisheries administrators, investors and representatives of financial institutions. Recommendations are then prepared as to how to enhance the economic performance and sustainability of fishing operations and on the scope and need for diversification and reduction of fishing effort and on related use, reduction and withdrawal of economic and financial incentives and subsidies.

Inside FAO:

- Regional and Sub-regional Fisheries Officers, Fishery Resources Division, Fishery Policy and Planning Division.
Outside FAO:
- National fisheries research institutions and fisheries administrations in about 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Asia and with the European Community.
Performance assessment: Through peer and other technical reviews of draft research protocols and publications and through regular feed-back from cooperating institutions and organizations

Main accomplishments: First inter-regional study has been completed and an inter-regional workshop has been held. Findings of study and workshop proceedings and recommendations have been reported in FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 377.

The findings of the studies suggest that - in spite of fully and sometimes over-exploited fisheries resources - marine capture fisheries, in most cases, are still an economically and financially viable undertaking which generates sufficient revenue to cover the cost of depreciation as well as the opportunity cost of capital to generate funds for reinvestment in addition to employment, income and foreign exchange earnings.

With a view to safeguarding the economic performance of the fishing industry and with it the employment and income generated, it is pertinent that countries put in place, in close co-operation with fishers and fishing industry associations, efficient measures to limit fishing effort, preserve and rehabilitate coastal areas and aquatic resources and make special efforts to protect small-scale fisheries sectors. The findings and recommendations thus suggest that in the medium- and long-term, conservation of coastal environment and fisheries resources is an essential pre-condition for the economic viability of marine capture fisheries.

Main constraints: The main constraints are the limited amount of funds and time available for studies. With very few exceptions, countries and fishing industries are very interested in the study and are willing to cooperate and to provide the requested information.

Estimated costs: The annual budget for the study, not including the cost of FAO Headquarters and Regional Office staff, is about US$ 30 000.

Time-frame: 1998-2001

(c) Demographic change in coastal fishing communities and its implications for sustainable use of fisheries resources

Objective: To assess the effects, if any, of changes in coastal fishing communities on sustainable utilization of fisheries resources.

Problem/Issue: Population growth in coastal fishing communities is believed to be an important factor contributing to over-exploitation of fishery resources and to deterioration of the coastal environment. Statistics show that the number of fishers has considerably increased over the past two decades because of population growth and in-migration.

Recently, it has been observed in many countries that the general trend with regard to population growth is changing and that fertility and population growth rates of the general population are declining. However, not much is understood of the demographic trends in fishing communities, and even less of the interaction with and impact on the state of the coastal environment and fishery resources.

Approach: The project strategy is to support a small group of national experts in the incorporation of population concerns into ongoing or new fisheries research and educational programmes and to ultimately link both to practical field level fisheries development and management. To implement this approach, six research and training institutions representing four sub-regions in Asia and Africa were identified during the preparatory phase of the project and are coordinating the research, curriculum development and training activities at the national level. Their work is technically and administratively backstopped and coordinated by FAO Headquarters staff.

Inside FAO:

- FAO Population Programme Service (SDWP)
Outside FAO:
- Netherlands International Demographic Institute

- UNFPA Regional Support Teams

- University of the Philippines in the Visayas, College of Fisheries

- University Pertanian Malaysia, Department of Natural Resource Economics

- Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, India

- Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development

- University of Dar-es-Salaam, Department of Sociology

- Direction Statistique, Senegal

Performance Assessment: Through regular reporting of progress made by national project teams and through regional and national workshops.

Main accomplishments: The research produced the following results/outputs:

The findings of the micro-level studies suggest that a majority of coastal artisanal fisherfolk is well aware of the deterioration of the coastal environment and decline in fisheries resources. Fisherfolk are also aware that the rapid increase in their own numbers over the past two decades, because of population growth in traditional fishing communities and because of in-migration, has contributed to the present situation. Fisherfolk, in most countries, feel that there are no policies or measures yet in place to improve the situation or to ensure their meaningful participation in the sustainable management and conservation of fisheries resources and the coastal environment. The findings further suggest that a process of demographic transition has started in some countries, which is characterized by declining fertility and population growth and which is associated with economic diversification, improved social security and well-being and higher levels of education.

There is an urgent need to introduce support measures for artisanal fishing communities including programmes in support of occupational diversification including training and investment/credit support; reproductive health and family welfare; empowerment and participation in local Government and natural resources management and environmental rehabilitation and conservation and other support measures. These support measures could facilitate the adjustment of artisanal fishing communities to current changes and ensure their full participation in these processes as well as in fisheries and coastal area management.

Main constraints: No significant constraints have been encountered as countries, research/academic institutions and fisheries administrations are very interested in the project and cooperate well in the research as well as in the training activities.

Estimated costs: The budget of the project, 70 percent of which accounts for the research activities, is US$ 325 000 over a period of six years. This does not include the cost of FAO Headquarters coordination and backstopping.

Time-frame: 1998 - 2004

(d) Analysis of global fleet trends

Objectives: Contribute to the development of knowledge about the state and trends of fleets. To assist States prevent overfishing and excess fishing capacity and implement management measures to ensure that fishing effort is commensurate with the productive capacity of the fishery resources.

Problem/Issue: The data series from the fishing fleets of the world continues to show increasing yields from marine resources. Growing concern is being expressed by coastal States and NGOs about overfishing, overcapacity of the fishing fleets and non-sustainable fishing methods.

In 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted and provided a new framework for the management of marine resources. This new legal regime of oceans gave coastal States rights and responsibilities for the management and use of fishery resources within their EEZs.

In the last decade, world fisheries have become a dynamically developing sector of the food industry and coastal States have striven to take advantage of their new opportunities by investing in fishing fleets and processing facilities. Clear signs of overexploitation of important fish stocks, modifications of ecosystems, economic losses, and international conflicts have shown that new approaches to fisheries management were needed.

Approach: The analysis was carried out on a database derived from the Lloyds Maritime Information Service, which lists information about all classes of vessels of 100t and over.

In cases where the records are incomplete the data has been supplemented by the FAO fishing fleet database.


Inside FAO:

- Collaboration with Fishery Resources Division, Fishery Policy and Planning Division, Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit.
Outside FAO:
- Cooperation with Lloyds Maritime Information Service, Fleet Statistic Unit of the European Commission
Performance Assessment: Through technical review of drafted documents and regular feedback from cooperating services.

Main accomplishments: The study shows the long-term trends in the global and national fishing fleets and indicated the factors, which are expected to influence investment and profitability of the fishing fleets in the future. Findings of the study are a useful tool for the development of strategies to bring fishing capacity in balance with available resources.

Main constraints:

- Comparison of the data from Lloyds with other sources such as FAO fleet statistics and national registers creates some difficulties because of the differences in the time of reporting.

- Poor vessel classification in Lloyds database.

- Change of tonnage measurement from Gross Registered Tonnage to Gross Tonnage.

Estimated costs: The budget for the study, not including the costs of FAO Headquarters staff is US$ 5 500.

Time-frame: 1998-2001


(a) Market Research in fish and fishery products

Objective: Improve market information available to members on fish and fishery products for international trade.

Problem/Issue: Producers and traders are often not fully informed of market conditions and opportunities, particularly in developing countries where market information and market analysis is limited.

Approach: Building on resources in the GLOBEFISH Technical Information Centre as well as information-gathering through European Price Report correspondents and industry contacts. By undertaking case studies, market surveys and reviews. Publications of case studies and reviews in the GLOBEFISH Research Programme. The initiative for each report has come from a GLOBEFISH member country or organization.

Collaboration: Most reports are written by GLOBEFISH staff. GLOBEFISH sister organizations in the Network contribute to several reports and in some instances have responsibility for coordination.

Output: Twenty studies have been published mainly in English since 1997. It is envisaged to translate some of the reports in French and Spanish. GLOBEFISH Research Programme, Reports series will in future be accessible also through the Internet.

Main constraints: As this research to a very large extent is carried out in-house and financed from GLOBEFISH funds, the work is dependent upon continuation of present staff levels.

Time-frame: continuous


(a) Elaboration of a plan of action for the management of fishing capacity and related guidelines

Objective: To seek global consensus on the desirability of and elaborate a plan of action for the management of fishing capacity.

Problem/Issue: The issue of managing fishing capacity relates to growing concerns about the spreading phenomena of excessive fishing inputs and overcapitalization in world fisheries. Excess fishing capacity stems essentially from the widespread tendency of overinvestment and overfishing under open-access fisheries or largely unregulated fisheries. Past policies of unchecked subsidization and fleet mobility have contributed largely to the globalization of the phenomenon.

Approach: The approach used was to address the issue sequentially, first at the technical and then at the policy level. A Technical Working Group met in April 1988 to review documentation prepared on this issue and to advise on related technical and policy matters. Elements of a Draft Plan of Action were prepared by FAO on this basis. Technical Consultations were undertaken in July and October 1998 leading to the elaboration of an International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity. Technical Guidelines are also being prepared on this basis.

Collaboration: FIPP has been the lead Service for this activity, with inputs from other Services and with ample cooperation from specialized institutions from many FAO Members.

Performance assessment: The process has been monitored through extensive consultation with FAO Members, especially through the two technical consultations organized in 1998 and through COFI.

These technical consultations were supported with extra-budgetary resources provided especially from the United States, Japan, the European Union and Norway.

Main outputs: The International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity was adopted by COFI in February 1999. It was further discussed by the FAO Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in March 1999.

Technical documentation was also published to provide guidance on addressing the issue (Report of Technical Working Group; FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No 386). Technical Guidelines on the management of fishing capacity to be published in the CCRF series are been finalized.

Main constraints: The implementation of the International Plan of Action will require significant inputs from FAO. It is expected that Regular Programme resources will be largely insufficient to carry out the expected activities. Extra-budgetary resources will be required, such as envisaged at one point in the context of the Forum for Sustainable Fisheries Initiative.

Budget: The overall budget of this activity is estimated at about US$ 150 000.

Time-frame: 1998-2000.

(b) Development of guidelines on the measurement of fishing capacity

Objective: Provide FAO Members and the international community guidelines for measuring fishing capacity.

Problem/Issue: The management of fishing capacity relates to the control of fishing inputs as well as related capital, labour and technology. Whatever the methods used to control fishing capacity, measurement requirements are essential. These range from the monitoring of fishing inputs, to the assessment of capacity utilization and of any eventual excess of short-term and long-term capacity in relation to target levels of resource exploitation.

Approach: The approach used is to organize a technical consultation on this issue, with technical contributions from FAO Members and to prepare technical guidelines on this basis. The Technical Consultation on the Measurement of Fishing Capacity will be held in November/December 1999 in Mexico. A call for papers was issued to receive technical contributions.

Collaboration: FIPP is the lead Service for this activity, with inputs from other Services and with ample cooperation from specialized institutions from many FAO Members.

Performance assessment: The process will be monitored in the context of the monitoring requirements of the implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity, using Regular Programme and extra-budgetary resources provided especially from Japan and the United States.

Main outputs: Technical Guidelines on the measurement of fishing capacity will be finalized in 2000. Documents prepared for the technical consultation will also be published to provide guidance on addressing the issue.

Main constraints: This activity was organized under severe time constraints, following specific instructions from COFI. The time and resources required to address this issue may prove insufficient. Additional applied research may be required during the next biennium.

Budget: The overall budget of this activity is estimated at about US$ 85 000.

Time-frame: 1999-2000

(c) Study on the economic and social implications of the transition to responsible marine capture fisheries and on related investment needs

Objectives: The principal study objectives include the following:

Problem/Issue: The capture fisheries sectors of many developing countries need to undergo significant changes to achieve the objectives of sustainable use of fishery resources, conservation of habitats, economic efficiency and social acceptability. In many countries, there exist significant over-capacities of industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal fishing fleets, even though the precise extent of such over-capacities is difficult to measure.

Governments are generally aware of the management issues faced by marine capture fisheries and have taken various policy measures to reduce over-capacities, regulate access to fisheries and create alternative employment opportunities. These policies have had some degree of success in a few countries where national economic growth has been sufficiently strong to attract capital and labour which otherwise would have entered the fisheries sector or continued to stay in it.

In other countries, the socio-political context did not allow restrictions on the further inflow of capital and labour into the fisheries sector with the consequence of worsening over-capitalization and overfishing. Many governments face the dilemma of, on the one hand, needing to reduce present levels of capital and labour inputs in the capture fisheries sector and, on the other hand, wishing not to cause more hardship for fishing communities which already rank among the lowest income groups in their countries. A possible desirable strategy to re-allocate access to fisheries resources from the semi-industrial and industrial segments of the fishing fleet to small-scale and artisanal fishermen whose transfer into other types of occupation would often face insurmountable difficulties, at least in the short and medium term, naturally faces opposition from the former fleet segments. Moreover, owners of industrial vessels are often better organized and have more influence with political decision-makers.

This socio-political fisheries dilemma faced by many governments, especially in Asia, is likely to be only resolvable in an orderly and peaceful manner if adequate economic compensation could be provided to those who are required to give up their acquired rights to exploit fisheries resources, however ill-defined these rights may be at present. Concomitantly with a reduction of fleet capacity, exclusive rights of resource access would need to become clearly defined and enforced for those who remain in the sector.

The process of transition to responsible fisheries will require substantial financial resources to allow for various adjustment measures including the removal of excess fishing capacity, time-bound income support to displaced crews and employees, economic incentives for the creation of alternative employment and income opportunities and for facilitating occupational mobility, and adjustments of public fisheries management administrations. Many governments of developing countries will experience difficulties in finding political support for the allocation of adequate budgetary resources to finance such transition.

Approach: For the present first phase, two case studies have been identified as follows:

The case studies encompass field surveys, bio-economic modelling and cost estimates of strengthening fisheries management, at central and local levels, including monitoring, control and surveillance. The data and analyses are expected to allow estimates of transition costs (i.e. costs of compensated withdrawal of excess capital and labour and costs of strengthened fisheries management) and transition benefits (i.e. reduced harvesting costs and higher catches and revenues). These estimates together with alternative assumptions about the timing when costs and benefits arise, will allow the calculation of net present value estimates of investments into transition measures. These will form the basis of eventual policy recommendations directed towards multilateral and bilateral development agencies including development banks.

Collaboration: The studies are implemented by the Thai Department of Fisheries and the Shanghai Fisheries University with financial and technical assistance provided by FAO and external collaborating research institutes. Regarding the latter, contact has been established with the Centre of Fisheries Economics and Management, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Management, Bergen, Norway, which may collaborate with its own funding in the Chinese case study. Contact has also been established with ICLARM and the FAO/Norway FishCode Project and a preliminary agreement reached to jointly collaborate with the Thai Department of Fisheries in the holding of a workshop on bio-economic modelling of the demersal fisheries of the Gulf of Thailand.

Performance assessment: Letters of Agreement (LOA) concluded with Shanghai Fisheries University and the Thai Department of Fisheries require periodic progress reporting. Performance is also monitored through regular visits of the partner institutions by FAO staff.

Main accomplishments: The study proposal was very well received by high-level fisheries administrators in both China and Thailand. It was also commented upon favourably by a number of fisheries economists contacted for possible collaboration.

Main constraints: The single biggest constraint is the availability of reliable data and/or their collection. Another constraint is bio-economic expertise.

Estimated costs: The direct support to SFU and Thai DOF under the LOA is US $ 17 500. FAO staff cost including travel has been in the order of US$ 15 000. Additional cost of approx. US $ 50 000 are estimated for the holding of the bio-economic modelling workshop and for further technical support. Of this amount, about US $ 10 000 will be from FAO Headquarters Regular Programme.

Time-frame: 1999-2001


12. The Committee is invited to appraise the research-related work undertaken in the 1998-99 biennium and to be continued or initiated in the biennium 2000-2001. The Committee may wish to indicate where, what and how improvements could be made for increased effectiveness and efficiency.

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