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The optimum implementation of a sampling programme depends on the situation in the country and its sub-divisions. The sampling programme is also dependent on the objectives and the funds and personnel available for the sampling. Thus, no universal best solution exists and the following is only a collection of general advice. The list of advice is not exhaustive, although it has been attempted to include all major issues.


Never start up a full-scale sampling programme based on theoretical considerations and assumptions about the actual situation in the field, but use practical trials to test procedures. A pilot sampling programme covers a limited area and will usually last one to six months. However, the number of staff involved in a pilot programme is much bigger than in the full programme, because staff categories should participate in the field work, not only the enumerators. The programme management should test all procedures, in order to obtain the maximum background knowledge.

A pilot programme may be used in three cases:

Collect as much information as possible about the pilot area and its fisheries and from data collection programmes under similar conditions (e.g. from neighbouring countries), before going into the field. Study the relevant manuals and textbooks used for fisheries data collection in the region and other similar places. A pilot programme should ideally include the following activities.

  1. Form study groups within the programme staff.

  2. Organise training in data collection methodology and workshops on the objectives of data collection (possibly using external consultants).

  3. Organise consultations with the users of the data collection programme, primarily the central and local fisheries administration and the bodies dealing with management and development of fisheries.

  4. Establish rules for reporting from meeting (minutes) and duty travel reports (“Back to office reports”), so that the entire staff can share the accumulated experience.

  5. Try to identify a pilot area where you expect the problems to be minimal. Do not start with the most complex case first. If necessary, make two pilot studies, an “easy case” and “a complex case”, but start with the easy one.

  6. Search for literature on fisheries and fishing communities.

  7. Search for literature on the living resources in the pilot area.

  8. Check existing statistics related to fisheries data collection.

  9. Discuss the objectives of the sampling programme with the central fisheries management and administration.

  10. Discuss the objectives of the sampling programme with the local fisheries management and administration.

  11. Check the legal basis for the provision of information by the industry.

  12. Check the existing legislation, regulations and registration of fishing vessels and fishers.

  13. Check the licence system, and obligations to provide information.

  14. Discuss changes/extension of the legislation if necessary.

  15. Make a preliminary strategy for data collection.

  16. Discuss the preliminary plans with the fisheries management body and fisheries administration.

  17. Sources of data. Where to get the data?

  18. How to get the data? How to approach the data source.

  19. When to get the data.

  20. Create contacts with local authorities, associations, co-operatives etc.

  21. Make contact with selected fishers, preferably representatives of the fisher communities.

  22. Organise information meetings with local representatives.

  23. Organise information meetings with fishers.

  24. Organise any event which may improve the relationship with the fishing community (for example, participate in festivals, give donations etc.)

  25. Make pamphlets and posters in the local language for distribution.

  26. Contact other sampling programmes (if applicable) for co-ordination and possible briefing.

  27. Make a profile of the fishery in the pilot area.

  28. Test out practical procedures and modify them until they work.

  29. Note the costs of sampling, and test ways of maximising the data collected while minimising the cost.

  30. Note the time it takes to collect the different types of samples, interviews, biological samples, frame survey, costs and earnings etc.

  31. Note the need for manpower.

  32. Note the need for transport, vehicles etc.

  33. Note the need for subsistence payments to enumerators

  34. Send observers onboard the vessels during fishing trips

  35. Let all staff, from the team leader to encoder, participate in the pilot sampling.

  36. Train new enumerators on the job, and by training courses on:

  37. Make fleet stratification, - define fleets in the pilot area both for the sampling programme (raising) and for management/development purposes.

  38. Test various equipment (photocopy, camera, scales, measuring devices).

  39. Design preliminary data forms.

  40. Design the preliminary computerised database system.

  41. Enter data in the preliminary database, and check that data collected can be used to estimate the desired parameters.

  42. Collect information on the experience of enumerators and organise meetings. Use the advice from the field workers.

Whatever positive relationship has been established with the fisher community should be continued and possibly extended.


This section lists some possible items for considerations when preparing a budget of a data collection programme. It is not possible to prepare a generic budget for a data collection programme, due to the variability of local conditions.


  1. Salary, enumerators

  2. Salary, supervisors

  3. Salary, encoders

  4. Salary, support staff (e.g. programmers, secretaries, accountants, drivers)

  5. Communication (mail, telephone, fax, email)

  6. Enumerators transport (including Daily Subsistence Allowance - DSA) to landing places

  7. Supervisors transport (including DSA) to landing places

  8. Training courses/seminars for enumerators

  9. Consultants (e.g. information technologists or artists)

  10. Participation in workshops, international conferences etc. abroad

  11. Organisation of (inter)national workshops, conferences etc. in country

  12. Study tours

  13. Hospitality

  14. Consultative meetings (with industry, government, local administrations)

  15. On-the-job training - costs of trainers

  16. Costs of samples

  17. Costs of reporting

  18. Sundries

  19. Office running costs

  20. Dissemination of information (publications)


  1. Equipment for measurements

  2. Computers, printers, networks, backup, software, etc.

  3. Photocopy and fax machines, telephones

  4. Transport (cars, motor bikes, boats, etc)

  5. Office space


Training is one of the most crucial components in the preparation and successful implementation of a data collection programme and must always be given high priority.

Training during the planning and implementation phases is different from the routine training of an on-going data collection programme. Regular training is an indispensable part of a sampling programme. New staff members on each level obviously have a need for training, but all personnel at all levels needs regular training to maintain work quality.

Training courses and workshops should target a representative number of staff involved in the preparatory and operational phases of a fishery data collection programme and should thus be an on-going activity. Participants should include fishers, data collectors, supervisors, researchers, computer operators, directly responsible data producers and users, and decision makers.

On-the-job-training is good for addressing technical (practical) problems. At the same time, the trainers on the job will increase their knowledge about the local situation. The training is most often a two-way communication, and that applies in particular when the training takes place in the environment of the trainee, who often has good background knowledge of the local situation.

Training courses and workshops are a good means for addressing methodological and operational problems encountered in the implementation of data collection programmes. They provide the opportunity for bringing together staff with different responsibilities and activities, such as data collectors and supervisors, data operators, statisticians and researchers.

Enumerators and their supervisors are the backbone of a data collection system since they are in direct contact with the fishers and have first-hand experience regarding field operations. Their participation will make them feel part of the entire survey programme and that will greatly assist in the identification of problem areas related to data collection operations. Participation of data operators is also important since their observations regarding inputting and data storage operations may bring out suggestions for improving the format of source forms and their compilation by the data collectors.

The aspects of gathering all personnel at one spot as frequently as possible should not be underestimated. Enumerators located at remote landing places, who are infrequently visited by the staff of the headquarters, or who have not had the opportunity to meet their colleagues in similar situations (for exchange of experience) may gradually lose their interest in the programme. This will result in a loss of loyalty to the programme, and therefore in a lower quality and quantity of data collected.

The training courses and workshops should address all aspects of the sampling programme, since it is important that staff at all levels understand and support the overall idea behind the programme. Enumerators, for example, are often in a situation where they are questioned by fishers about the data collection programme and they should preferably agree with the programme and be able to explain and justify it.

The key questions should be explained and discussed with all types of staff, although the topics should be dealt with in a way matching the different staff groups. Key questions are:

  1. Why collect data? (objectives of data collection programme);

  2. Who are the customers? (who should we collect data for);

  3. Which data to collect? (say, from commercial fishery or from experimental fishery?);

  4. How to collect data? (What are the sources of data?);

  5. How to store and process data? (Including databases and bio-economics and fish stock assessment);

  6. How to report on fisheries? Which groups of customers should get which type of reports?;

  7. What are the costs of data collection, and where does the funding come from?

The programme should make use of existing manuals on data collection in general and fisheries data collection in particular, but general manuals (like the present one) are never sufficient to meet the special requests. It is recommended that the programme prepare its own manuals (in the national language) on its own procedures and methods.

7.3.1 Training of Data Manager and Supervisors

Training of leading staff may be executed within the data collection programme by consultants or outside the programme, for example in universities, in international organisations or by study tours, visits to other data collection programmes (collecting similar data) or fisheries data collection programmes in other countries.

Training of leaders will often be “training of trainers”. That is, the leader will convey her/his newly acquired knowledge to the staff of the programme. The leaders participating in external training activities should report on the experience gained, and, if appropriate, explain how the new knowledge can be utilised in the programme.

The selection of training or participation in meetings and conferences outside the programme should always be justified by its value for the programme. Participation in external activities is usually costly, and must always be justifiable, relative to the other costs of the sampling programme.

However, participation in training courses and conferences outside the data collection programme is absolutely necessary, if the programme should keep pace with the development. This applies in particular to management and development issues (objectives of data collection) as well as information technology (databases, publications, communication etc.).

It is not recommended to have special workshops and training courses for leaders inside the programme. For example, leaders who are not computer experts should not get a special computer course for leaders. They should participate in the training course together with other staff categories. Special training courses for leaders are required in fields of expertise, which are not covered by the current staff of the programme.

7.3.2 Training of Enumerators, Encoders and Support Staff

The training of enumerators, encoders and support staff may be executed either by the managers or supervisors or more experienced enumerators/encoders. Training courses/workshops may also be attended by the managers/supervisors as participants.

In a training course, one would mainly think of one-way communication, whereas a workshop should allow for discussions and analyses of what has been done and what is being taught. The purpose of a workshop is to try out the theory, exchange experience between the participants, and eventually produce results for distribution outside the data collection programme. It is recommended to combine training courses and workshops as much as possible, so that the participants get a good understanding of the relationship between theory and practice.

It is important that the encoders have a good understanding of the enumerator's work. Actually, encoders and enumerators may partly be the same persons. Thus, both encoders and enumerators should participate at the same courses/workshops.

These courses should cover also the important issues of data collection mentioned above. The enumerator is the representative of the programme, and she/he should have the understanding of the issues, which enable a convincing justification of the programme. In general, the training should not be confined to the narrow field of the enumerators/encoders daily work. The enumerators should report on questions encountered during their service, and the handling of the specific question should be addressed to the benefit of the entire group.

Enumerator/Encoder specific training issues:

  1. The fishing sector (general information about the fisheries);

  2. The national and the local fisheries administration;

  3. Interview techniques (how to approach fishers for interview);

  4. Relationship to fishers (in addition to the situation of interview);

  5. Relationship to local administration;

  6. Planning of work;

  7. Species identification;

  8. Fleet identification;

  9. Entry of data in forms and database;

  10. Reporting to headquarters (activities, accounting, needs, problems encountered);

  11. Sampling theory (e.g. Neyman criteria);

  12. Fishing grounds identification;

  13. Vessel registration;

  14. Information technology (e.g. databases);

Workshop issues for enumerators/encoders:

  1. Definition of fleets (discussion of current fleet definitions, and possible new definitions based on recent developments);

  2. Definition of commercial groups (discussion of current definition of commercial groups, and possible new definitions based on recent developments);

  3. Production of reports for local distribution (e.g. Provincial annual fisheries statistics);

  4. Production of national reports (e.g. National annual fisheries statistics);

  5. Production of written material for distribution to fishers and other local groups (e.g. a pamphlet explaining the key issues of the data collection programme);

  6. Planning local meetings with fishers and the local administration.

Support staff, which includes computer experts, accountants, office manager and secretaries, may need specialised training, but they should also participate in part of the training for enumerators and encoders.

The above list of topics for training courses and workshops should be extended with topics specific to the local situation.


The programme should prepare material to inform the industry and the local administration about the sampling programme and hold meetings where it can be presented and discussed. A pamphlet of a maximum of 20 pages with many illustrations, aiming at the public as a whole, should be prepared. The data collection programme may get assistance from professional information experts (e.g. journalists or artists) to formulate the text and the illustrations of the pamphlet to reach a wide audience, but with special emphasis on the target group, the fishing community. The programme should design a logo to make the programme easily recognisable and visible and may prepare other material, like a presentation, tee-shirts and note books with the logo of the programme etc.

The main purposes of the meetings are:

  1. To establish good relationships with the fishers and their organisations/associations;

  2. To establish agreements on exchange of data;

  3. To get advice and information about the sector;

  4. To inform about the data collection programme (objectives and methodology).

Funds must be allocated to this type of activity, as a bad relationship with the industry may destroy an otherwise well-designed data collection programme.

7.4.1 Consultations with Fisheries Administrators

The fisheries administrators (the staff of Fisheries Departments in central and local governments) are the primary user of the data collection programme. There must be a good relationship between them and the data collection programme. Therefore, regular meetings and consultations should be arranged. Some of the administrators will also be responsible for the implementation of management regulations.

The administrators need support and training to ensure they interpret the data in the correct way and are aware of the limitations in the data collection system.

Some of the administrators will usually direct the staff managers of the data collection programme, and ideally, it is they who should take the initiative to organise meetings. If they are hesitant, the management of the data collection programme must take the initiative.

Standing committees on fishery statistics (i.e. stock assessment, statistic standardisation groups) can play a key role in the co-ordination of data collection programmes, particularly in those cases where different agencies or institutions are involved in various applications sectors and components of an overall survey system. Their terms of reference may include:

  1. Set-up priorities and provide advice related to statistical development activities;

  2. Provide a forum for consultations and co-ordination regarding progress evaluation, performance and diagnostics;

  3. Use feedback information from National Workshops for the preparation of reports with findings, conclusions and recommendations;

  4. Advise on correction of data collection programme if and when needed;

  5. Recommend on utilisation of staff and other resources for data collection.

Statistical Committees should meet on a regular basis and their composition and level of authority should allow submission of their recommendations to higher government authorities for consideration and action.

Working groups should be established to:

7.4.2 Consultations with Fisheries Managers and the Fishing Industry

“Fisheries managers” are the decision makers, starting with the Minister of Fisheries (or the minister under which fisheries belongs) and all others involved in the decision-making process. Some of these persons are the superiors of the administrators. It may be natural to invite the decision makers together with the industrial sector they are responsible for, but they may also be invited together with their civil servants.

These meetings are the data collection meetings on the highest level, and the meetings may well have data collection as one item amongst others on the agenda. The task of the data programme will be to get on the agenda, and to use suitable opportunities to make the programme visible. The primary message to get through is that information is the prerequisite for rational management and development, but that information costs money, as explained in various international agreements, such as the “Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing”. Whenever appropriate, the data collection programme should use such occasions to point at its problems (usually funding) and to convince the decision makers about the value of data.

7.4.3 Exchange of Experiences with Other Countries or International Organisations

Irrespective of differences in type and size of fishing industries, fishery data collection programmes are generally based on certain basic and commonly accepted methodological and operational concepts. It may thus be of interest for a country to benefit from the experience and knowledge of other countries that have already made good progress in the implementation of fishery data collection programmes.

Exchange of such expertise can be facilitated by:

  1. Regional workshops and expert consultations;

  2. Study tours;

  3. Exchange of information, including manuals, forms etc.;

Where regional co-ordinated data collection has been implemented international meeting of data managers may deal with:

  1. Regional workshops on processing of combined data (including fish stock assessment and bio-economic analyses);

  2. Standardisation of data format, for exchange of data;

  3. Establishment of regional databases;

  4. Co-ordination of data collection from shared resources;

  5. Co-ordination of data collection from vessels not landing in the home country;

  6. Exchange of data from shared resources.

As was the case with the training abroad, international activities are costly and should always be well justified.


Documentation to be used as input for the sampling programme and database has the following main purposes:

  1. To keep all staff up-to-date with the present status of the programme;

  2. To keep other interested parties up-to-date with the present status of the programme;

  3. To standardise the performance of all staff;

  4. To educate and instruct new staff;

  5. To ensure that development of the programme does not violate its integrity;

  6. To report to government on activities and output;

  7. To justify possible further investment in the programme;

  8. To compare the programme with similar programmes (e.g. in other countries).

The programme's documentation comprises:

  1. General information about the data collection programme, including objectives and general methodology;

  2. Technical manuals for data collection, storage and processing of data;

  3. Technical descriptions of data collection programme and database;

  4. Budgets, accounting, investments, personnel and office reports;

  5. Administrative reports;

The set of documentation should be regularly updated and modified. Whenever requested even at short notice, the sampling programme should be able to supply documentation for all elements of the programme. This is not only of value for the “customers” of the data collection programme, but also for data collected. By preparing these documents, the programme management will naturally evaluate the programme at the same time.

A pamphlet, explaining the main issues of the sampling programme, should be available in national language as well as English language. The “Yearbook of Fisheries Statistics” should also contain a brief description of the data collection programme and the contents of the database.

Documentation of the sampling programme should comprise:

  1. Manuals for enumerators (Manual for interview of fishers, species identification, etc.);

  2. Technical description of data collection programme;

  3. Complete documentation of sampling programme;

  4. Description of quantities and qualities of data collected (administrative report);

  5. General background information about the fisheries sector (Fisheries sector profiles, National fisheries legislation, National policy for the fisheries sector, National fisheries legislation);

Documentation of the database should comprise:

  1. Manual for encoders;

  2. Manual for database users;

  3. Complete documentation for database developers.


The initial problem with the timing is not the sequence of events, but that all activities should be started at the same time, once the pilot programme is over.

It is of special importance that the sampling programme development and database development are synchronised, as the database can be used as a tool to test and improve the data collection programme. The meetings at various levels should not await the completion of the first version of the database as that may lock the design in an undesirable position. The designers should right from the beginning benefit from the responses of users and industry. The good relationship with the industry should await the completion of the first programme design.

Figure 7.6.1

Figure 7.6.1 The iterative process of setting up a fisheries data collection programme (Compare with Figure 1.2.1). For further details, see text.

Often there is the need for a regular modification of the stratification to match the development in fisheries and resources.

Training courses and workshops as well as in-job training should be started up from the beginning, perhaps as one of the very first activities.

Production of manuals should start as soon as possible as a means for communication within the programme staff. The programme should not wait until it feels sure that it can produce the final version of the manuals. The programme should rather accept that the manuals are not permanent and will be revised regularly.

Once a programme has started, it will need to be regularly revised. Thus, the process of setting up a data collection programme calls for an iterative approach, as illustrated by Figure 7.6.1.

Figure 7.6.1 shows a double iterative process, where the inner iteration (A) is an internal exercise of the data collection programme (including the administrators in the “Directorate of Fisheries”), whereas the outer iteration (B) involves the interaction with the users (the decision-makers, the managers of fisheries in the government etc.). The interaction with the users are here called as “user meetings”, although this interaction may take other forms as well.

Although modifications of programme are needed more or less every year, the modifications should be made so that the compatibility with earlier years is maintained. If there are no major changes in the fisheries sector or the resources, the annual modifications should become gradually smaller.

The steps a,b,…,s in the iterative process in Figure 7.6.1 varies from case to case. Below follows an example of details for these boxes:

  1. Define objectives of data collection. What type of general background information is required, which type of resource evaluation / bio-economic analyses is required?

  2. Identify data. For example, what should be the content of the “Year book of Fisheries Statistics”? What is the input needed resource evaluation / bio-economic analyses?

  3. Identify data sources. Who can supply information, where? Identify all parts collecting information or are keeping files about the fisheries sector.

  4. Make first trial design of pilot data collection programme (if first iteration). See Section 7.1.

  5. Execute pilot data collection (if first iteration). See Section 7.1.

  6. Design data collection programme and design database. Construct a stratification on fleets, landing places, species and season. Select data collection stations, decide on frequency of sampling, allocate tasks to enumerators, design data forms for interview and for data entry, and make the budget.

  7. Execute training courses for enumerators, encoders and support staff. Create a “team-attitude” - make all staff feel they are important for the programme.

  8. Collect data. Design interviews and fill in forms, execute frame survey or vessel registration, execute on-the-job training, make contacts to fishers, distribute material of the sampling programme, pamphlet, tee-shirts, etc.

  9. Create database. Select commercial software and create an application for fisheries database in collaboration with enumerators and encoders. Create a database to meet the requirement specified in a, b and c.

  10. Enter data in database. Enter data into the computer and carry out preliminary validation, train enumerators and check their performance.

  11. Execute pre-processing of data and validate data. Estimate the first raisings of data, and validate the raised data. Compare samples to identify extreme values and do other validation exercises (see Section 6.7)

  12. Evaluate data collection programme and database. Prepare detailed administrative reports, compare plans with actual achievements. Compare actual costs with budget. Identify the problems and their solutions. Invite consultants for independent evaluation. Compare to other data collection programmes, for example, programmes in other countries.

  13. Arrange user meetings with administrators. Administrators are here the senior staff in the fisheries directorate (central and provincial) who are associated with the data collection programme in the sense that they are the official publisher of the fisheries statistics and they are the supervisors of the data collection programme.

  14. Feedback to f)

  15. Process data. Complete processing, possibly with resource evaluation or bio-economic assessment.

  16. Prepare reports. Administrative reports, catch/effort reports, resource evaluation report, bio-economic analysis, etc.

  17. Evaluate reports. Do the reports contain the expected data? Do reports provide the analyses and advice expected? Is the current sampling frequency adequate? Are additional data required?

  18. Consult with managers, politicians and representatives from industry and fishers associations. Are the primary users satisfied with the reports? Are there additional requests from the users. Do the managers actually apply the reports as a part of the basis for their management decisions?

  19. Feedback to a)

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