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Initially, it was decided that the Directory would include only those institutions working principally in the area of fisheries or aquaculture. It became clear at a fairly early stage that the resources of information on fisheries and aquaculture were spread much more widely, not only in terms of the resources held but also the relevant information produced and published. For example, in some countries the only significant information resources are held by the universities and in others the fisheries community depends upon them for providing access to the scientific and technical literature as well as for the expertise of their staff. Many regional fishery bodies and projects may not have libraries or information collections as such, but they produce significant fisheries and aquaculture information. Organizations have therefore been identified for inclusion if they fulfil any of the following criteria:

The following types of organizations are included: Ministries, Universities and Training Colleges, National Research Organizations, Regional Fishery Bodies, Fisheries and Aquaculture Projects, Non Governmental, Intergovernmental and International Organzations. A few Organizations based outside of Africa have been included and, although this section could be expanded enormously, the coverage is representative and is not intended to be global. Organizations based in Africa have been arranged alphabetically by country, including regional bodies and networks. A list of these is provided in section 8. The countries are arranged alphabetically according to their English names. An index of the French names of countries is provided in section 9.

The kinds of information included range from the collections of libraries and information centres; research information and data produced by national institutions as grey literature; periodicals; bibliographic databases and data collections, Internet resources; ichthyology collections and professional associations.

The data elements included in each record are intended to emphasise the resources and services of most relevance for co-operation between institutions, to enable improved access to and dissemination of information. The data on subjects covered was provided by the institutions themselves in most cases. The field for freshwater or marine environment was added, as was the broad subject category based on the Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) classification. Further details of these subject categories is provided in section 7.

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