the programme of support to national preparation of holding the 2000 round of the World
Census of Agriculture, the FAO Statistics Division and the Fishery Department's
Information, Data and Statistics Unit (FIDI), in collaboration with the National
Statistical Office of Thailand (NSO) held a 5-day training workshop at which
representatives of 14 Asian countries participated. This workshop concluded a series of
meetings held in recent years in Asia, where the aquaculture sector is of growing
importance, to foster the knowledge of the sector and improve its monitoring. In
particular the fifteenth session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural
Statistics (APCAS) held in 1994 recommended the inclusion of aquaculture in the
agricultural census programme (WCA 2000 programme).
The objective of the workshop was to discuss different technological and methodological
aspects of undertaking an agricultural census and their application for collecting
structural data (e.g. size and type of culture facilities, employment, infrastructure etc)
on aquaculture, not only -as it was the case in past rounds of the WCA- by means of very
few questions concerning the structure of mixed agri-aqua farms, but through the promotion
of a comprehensive inquiry of the structural characteristics of households or economic
units practising exclusively fish farming.
A participatory approach was adopted for the workshop. Country reports presented by the
participants were interspersed by lectures/ discussions by FAO staff and resource persons
on agricultural census taking. Topics included methodological aspects of frame surveys;
merits of complete enumeration and sample coverage; quality control and sampling and
non-sampling errors; census items in general and aquaculture in particular -including
demographic characteristics and employment; tabulation, analysis and dissemination of
census results. Items considered essential (e.g. area, types and ownership of culture
facilities, seed or ongrowing production activities) for aquaculture were discussed in
greater detail. Part of the discussions was on the use of new technologies for conducting
census and collecting routinely data and on the importance of planning from early stages
the computerized processing of the collected data and their analysis.
A special session was devoted to the NSO, Thailand, on their
approaches and experiences of conducting their fishery census.
The workshop sessions took the form of short lectures followed by active participation by
all the participants on pertinent issues and constraints relating to including the
collection of aquaculture structural statistics within the WCA 2000 programme, other
possible mechanisms (e.g. population census, fishery census, livestock census) for
collecting structural data and on aquaculture statistics in general.
The purpose of collecting structural and production aquaculture data was stressed and the
increasing need for such data in monitoring access to and competition for natural
resources, such as land and water, as well as efficiency of land use was emphasised.
Although the primary objective of the workshop was to focus on the agricultural census,
some participants (e.g. Bangladesh, The Democratic Republic of Korea and Nepal) indicated
by way of their country papers and comments that aquaculture monitoring as a whole was in
its infancy. Others (e.g. Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea)
reported that the census was inextricably linked with detailed aquaculture sample surveys
and annual production surveys. The participants indicated that in many countries all
approaches for aquaculture monitoring face fundamental but common problems. Monitoring was
often hampered by lack of or an outdated aquaculture frame or listing which made the
verification of collected data difficult. Some participants mentioned that inland
aquaculture is poorly or not properly recorded due to lack of a frame, while the large
numbers of scattered and remote locations of aquaculture units in rural areas was
difficult and costly to record. Majority of the participants identified the definition of
aquaculture and its separation from fisheries a major problem and considered the FAO
tabular guidelines on classification of fisheries activities into aquaculture, enhanced
and traditional capture fisheries of practical value in this regard. In addition,
discussions also revealed that poor intra- as well as international harmonisation of
aquaculture terms (e.g. definition of aquaculture) and variables (e.g. pond area, size of
facilities, etc) have hampered the collection of quality data at the grass roots level.
Some participants stated