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127. Mr Richard Grainger of the Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit of FAO introduced document APCAS/02/13, "Shortcomings in Fishery Statistics and a Proposal for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries". The document described the importance of information on the status and trends of fisheries as a basis for (a) fisheries policy development and management for sustainable use and food security; (b) monitoring the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; (c) describing the contribution and status of different components of the fisheries sector, including small-scale and subsistence fisheries; (d) supporting policy-making and management with a wider scope of fishery information, including environmental and socio-economic information; and (e) helping countries fulfill their obligations under international agreements.

128. The Commission learned of the shortcomings in fishery statistics in the Asia-Pacific region as described by several recent meetings and reviews, including the Eighteenth Session of APCAS in 2000, an FAO/Mekong River Commission meeting on inland capture fisheries, an FAO Pacific Islands' workshop in 2001 on coastal artisanal fisheries, and an Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) workshop in 1999 on marine and inland capture fisheries. Shortcomings identified at those meetings and in associated reviews included: (a) limited use of statistics for fisheries management and policy-making; (b) limited awareness of importance and role of statistics, especially for small scale fisheries; (c) lack of local ownership; (d) perceived lack of confidentiality leading to misreporting; (e) mistrust in the information; and (f) institutional weaknesses.

129. The Commission was presented with a draft "Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries" which had been developed by an FAO technical consultation in March 2002 and which would be presented to the FAO Committee on Fisheries for endorsement in February 2003. The technical consultation expressed the view that the issue of improving information on the status and trends of capture fisheries should have a high priority with regard to implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. It agreed that the draft Strategy was an appropriate instrument to address the issue because it would set forth objectives, policies, programmes, actions and decisions that defined who would do what and why. The draft Strategy could be used as a foundation for various policy instruments as it clearly established current commitments at national, regional and global levels. The draft specified actions required in the following nine areas: (a) capacity-building in developing countries; (b) data collection systems in small-scale fisheries and multi-species fisheries; (c) expanding the scope of information on status and trends of fisheries; (d) global inventory of fish stocks and fisheries; (e) structuring and capacity-building for participation in the Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS) as an implementation mechanism; (f) development of criteria and methods for ensuring information quality and security; (g) development of partnership arrangements; (h) the role of working parties to assess the status and trends of fisheries; and (i) sustaining data collection for information on the status and trend of fisheries.

130. The Commission discussed estimation of global fishery production, forecasting and decision-support mechanisMs It recognized the need for the application of uniform standards and definitions in the Asia-Pacific and other regions as stipulated in the draft Strategy.

131. The Commission noted that many member countries indicated their intention to either undertake a fisheries census separately from the agriculture census or to include questions on fisheries or aquaculture in the agriculture census.

132. In order to build the partnership for the implementation of FIGIS and to develop standards for data exchange, the Commission stressed that the involvement of all key regional fishery organizations (e.g. SEAFDEC, SPC, IATTC, CCAMLR) and other relevant agencies (e.g. CEC/Eurostat) was essential. Public advocacy was also suggested to ensure the success of the system.

133. In conclusion, the Commission considered that the draft Strategy provided a useful framework for the development of standards and capacity building for the improvement of fishery statistics in the Asia-Pacific region and expressed general support for its adoption and implementation and requested FAO to ensure that the FIGIS be an integral part of the proposed FAOSTAT2.

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