A FORWARD LOOK
In order to provide a framework for listing and discussing fisheries statistics we have imposed various divisions and categories. The objectives have been divided into resource objectives, national objectives and local objectives; the primary users have been characterised as biologists, economists, technologists and development planners; we have distinguished between structural and operational statistics, between input and output and between short- term and long-term statistics. The emphasis throughout ham been on long-term statistics used for studying the resource and the primary phase of the industry. This chapter will attempt to show the limits of this fragmented approach and to look at some of the difficulties which are encountered in trying to overcome it.
It has been argued that statistics are needed in order to make management possible and that the benefits of good management justify the costs of collection. This does not mean that better management inevitably results from better statistics, but with good statistics the objectives can be more clearly defined, and the means of approaching the objectives can be better evaluated.
One may judge the benefits of good management from a general, long-term point of view or by reference to the specific objectives at the national or local level. The general viewpoint is that many stocks are currently over-exploited and those which are not over-exploited will tend to become so in the absence of management. The loss of potential yield and of potential revenue to the fishing industry is enormous, perhaps 10-20% of current total world yield. This loss could be avoided., and the first step would be to collect and analyse the statistics of catch and, fishing effort in order to make it clear to all those participating in the fisheries in question, that they would benefit from cooperative resource management.
The specific national or local viewpoint will depend on the objectives being pursued. A recent study (Lawson, 1974) found that the commonest stated objectives of a group of countries fishing in the Indo-Pacific were:
(a) to produce enough fish for domestic requirements
(b) to develop exports
(c) to improve the socio-economic conditions of fishermen
(d) to promote general all round expansion of fisheries
(e) to develop fish farming, aquaculture, etc.
The first four of these aims would. obviously be furthered by collecting biological data and making assessments of the stocks in order to see what increase in production could be expected from them and how they could be harvested most efficiently, but to concentrate exclusively on this biological aspect would be wrong. The economic factors, landing and transportation facilities and social factors must obviously also be considered.. One may set up a number of proximate objectives to cover these but the problem is how to assign priorities to all those aspects, particularly the fisheries statistics with which we are concerned here, and how much money to spend on each. A cost/benefit approach covering all aspects of data collection and analysis is hardly possible, but more limited forms of economic evaluation can be useful. For example Matthews (1971) has produced a model which looks at the cost and reliability of annual salmon run forecasting as a means of managing for optimum escapement of salmon and of providing canning plants with advance notification of the capacities they should plan for the following season. The author concludes that a moderately precise forecast provides benefits almost as great as a highly precise forecast, The present forecast costing $100 000 - $250 000 yearly may increase the operating margin of the canning plants by $500 000 - $2 500 000, but he points out that with free entry to the fishery there may be no net economic gain from forecasting. Instead the price of raw fish will rise as the profits of the canning industry increase; this will attract more fishing effort, which is superfluous and the increase in efficiency in canning will be offset by a decrease in catching efficiency.
The situation being modelled is a very simple, short term one, but three conclusions may perhaps be drawn:
1. In an economic evaluation of this kind the biological, economic and management aspects must be integrated.
2. The level of precision in forecasting and the cost of obtaining it must be balanced against increased benefits. Very precise forecasts may not be worth the extra cost.
3. A form of management which looks at only part of the fishing industry may be self-defeating. For a particular management measure to be effective one must try to evaluate not only the immediate impact but also the repercussions in related sectors.
The role of fisheries management at the regional, national and local level is expanding very quickly at the moment as the need to develop the fishing industry and to resolve the conflicts over the ownership and use of fish resources continues. In many parts of the world the basic statistics of catch and effort, needed to monitor the state of exploitation of the stocks, are inadequate. The present task is therefore to bring them up to an adequate level and to ensure that they keep up with the expanding needs of management. It is difficult to see how this can be achieved without a high degree of regional cooperation, particularly for resource management. Cooperation is needed because this is the only way in which common property resources can be managed. Common facilities for data compilation, processing storage would provide a focus for many kinds of fishery statistics and reduce the costs to each country. They would also help to establish standards of coverage and quality for member countries to aim at and provide a means of measuring data collecting performance.
Within countries as well, the lack of communication and exchange of information between the different establishments concerned with fisheries administration, research, statistics and running of the industry may be a serious impediment to management. These groups, too, may recognise that their interests will be served in the long term by setting up a common system of collection for the basic catch and effort statistics at least and possibly also economic data on the industry. The way in which the interests of fishermen, fish merchants and, fisheries biologists end economists may be mat by an automated processing system for commercial fishing operations and fish markets is given in C.N.R. Laboratorio di Tecnologia della Pesca 1974, dagli incontri tecnici VIII. If the value of collecting statistics on the fish resources and the fishing industry is recognised at all levels then the best means of collection can soon be found.