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Among the major tasks of the FAO is the promotion of improved approaches and techniques for the collection of data on agricultural statistics, including fisheries and forestry. The need for reliable and comprehensive statistics has never been more acutely felt than at present, when most countries are engaged in large-scale planning. Large-scale statistical programmes, however, require a great deal of effort and funds for their development and implementation and these are major constraints for many countries with limited human and financial resources. The merit of the sampling approaches lies in providing a cost-effective and efficient method for the collection of data, thus accelerating the development of statistics urgently needed by planners.

The present study summarizes the author's experience and development work over the last fifteen years, most of which took place in Africa. During my service in Rome as Director of the Policy and Planning Division of the FAO Fisheries Department, I had the opportunity to discuss with him issues concerning fishery statistics and computerized databases relevant to the programme of work of my Division. I also recall that during that period Constantine Stamatopoulos initiated the development of several fishery statistical approaches in support of FAO's Field Programme, with specific focus on the African region. In recent years, as Regional Representative for Africa, I have become more aware of the urgent need for improving fishery statistics in Africa and have followed with great interest FAO activities and programmes relating to fishery statistical development in the region.

In January 1999 the author was transferred to the FAO Regional Office in Accra, Ghana, to enable him operate more closely to several important FAO programmes and activities related to fishery statistical development in the region. One of his major tasks has been training of national counterparts in sampling techniques and preparation of practical guidelines and technical papers for undertaking cost-effective fishery surveys. This study provides the methodological background for such functions.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I recommend this work to statistical developers, with the conviction that it will further assist them in the difficult task of survey design and implementation.

B. F. Dada
Assistant Director-General/
Regional Representative for Africa
Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations

Accra, May 1999

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