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While the present paper was written with the special concern of sample-based fishery surveys, it is envisaged that several of its methodological and utility aspects could well be applicable to other types of agricultural surveys, particularly in those cases where large-scale data collection programmes are operating under financial and personnel constraints. Some of the difficulties in determining the appropriate operational scale of data gathering systems are reviewed in this document. Emphasis is placed on "safety in sampling" and a geometrical approach is presented by means of which a priori indicators regarding sampling efficiency are formulated in advance and without the need for preliminary sampling operations. The development of the theory presented in this publication was initiated while the author was working in the Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit at FAO Headquarters in charge of systems development and support to member countries in statistical development. It was finalized while he was working at the FAO Regional Office for Africa on implementation of improved fishery statistics collection through sample surveys in many African countries.


Directors of Fisheries
Regional Fishery Bodies
Regional Fisheries Officers
FAO Fisheries Department

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