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Chapter 1

Introduction and background

The Fisheries Technical Paper summarises the findings of 15 country level studies on the economic and financial performance of marine capture fisheries conducted in 1999 and 2000. The studies form part of the monitoring of the economic viability of marine capture fisheries by the Fisheries Department of FAO, which is carried out in close co-operation with fisheries research institutions and national fisheries administrations in selected countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The paper also summarises the proceedings of an inter-regional workshop held from 2 - 6 April 2001 at the Bankers Institute of Rural Development in Lucknow, India, where the findings of the studies were presented and discussed. The programme of the workshop, a list of participants and a summary of the workshop proceedings can be found in ANNEX II, III and IV, respectively.

The country level studies presented and analysed in this paper update and validate earlier surveys carried out between 1995 and 1997 in 13 selected countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In 1995, these countries accounted for 49% of the marine capture fisheries production in their respective regions and for 41% of the global marine production. A comparative analysis of the findings of the studies and of the proceedings and recommendations of an inter-regional workshop where the findings were discussed were published as FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 377.1 The findings of this first round of studies were also featured in the FAO Report on the Status of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 20002 as well as in INFOFISH International3 and INTERCOAST.4

The general conclusion of the previous studies was that, in most cases, marine capture fisheries is an economically and financially viable undertaking, which generates sufficient funds for reinvestment in addition to generating income, employment and foreign exchange earnings. It was also found that the generally positive economic performance of marine capture fisheries was being achieved in an environment where fisheries resources were fully exploited and overexploited and the question was raised how long this could last.

It was concluded that there is an urgent need to strengthen and put in place efficient measures to limit fishing effort and rehabilitate coastal areas and aquatic resources. For future monitoring of the economic performance of marine capture fisheries, the impact of fisheries management measures on the economic performance of fishery industries and related changes of fishing fleets and their operations including the use of responsible and selective fishing practices were identified as priority area. Other important areas for future monitoring were identified as the impact of subsidies, economic incentives and fiscal policies and measures on the profitability and sustainability of fishing operations5 and role of fish utilisation and marketing in the economic performance of fishing enterprises.

Following above recommendations, the monitoring of the economic performance of marine capture fisheries was continued and additional fisheries and countries were included i.e. Norway, an important Nordic fishing nation, the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and Thailand.6 Information collected between 1995 and 1997 on Spain, France, Germany, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, India, Senegal, Argentina and Peru has been updated so that altogether 15 countries were covered by the study. Of the countries, which had participated in the first round of studies three were not included in the recent studies i.e. Ghana, Malaysia and Taiwan, Province of China. The recent studies followed the same methodology as the ones described in FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 377.

The findings of the recently conducted studies and their comparative analysis were presented and discussed in a workshop, which was hosted by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) of India and organised by the Fishery Industries Division of FAO in co-operation with the Asia and Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA). The workshop was held from 2 - 6 April 2001 at the Bankers Institute of Rural Development in Lucknow.

The workshop had five major outcomes:

1 Economic viability of marine capture fisheries. Findings of a global study and an interregional workshop. FAO.Fisheries Technical Paper. FAO Rome 1999.

2 The state of world fisheries and aquaculture. FAO Rome 2000,pp 91-98.

3 U.Tietze/J.Prado: Economic and financial efficiency of tuna fisheries, in: INFOFISH International 1/2001, pp 65-68.

4 U. Tietze: Economic viability of marine capture fisheries, in: INTERCOAST, International Newsletter of Coastal Management, Coastal Resources Center, Universitry of Rhode Island, USA, 2000.

5 See also: Report of the expert consultation on economic incentives and responsible fisheries. FAO 2001.

6 While Thailand was represented in the previous inter-regional workshop, it was not included in the first round of country level studies.

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