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40. The Secretariat presented document COFI:AQ/I/2002/5 discussing the importance of improving aquaculture data, statistics and data collection standards for aquaculture development, management and their reporting. Moreover the document provided an overview of FAO’s work on aquaculture information and data. The Sub-Committee appreciated the quality of the document and thanked the Secretariat.

41. The relevance of the issues presented in this document was evident from several earlier interventions on data and statistics made by delegates on preceding agenda items. The Sub-Committee recognized the importance of good quality statistics and urged Members to collaborate more closely with FAO in the collection and analyses of aquaculture related information, data and statistics. It emphasized that this was needed in order to describe the status of the sector and monitor emerging trends for policy making and management purposes.

42. The Sub-Committee acknowledged the different aquaculture data needs of its Members. It was suggested that as a minimum, the following data should be collected and reported:

43. The Sub-Committee considered that the quality of the FAO statistics on fisheries and aquaculture has improved in recent years. It however expressed concern about the accuracy and reliability of the data received. The Norwegian delegate suggested that FAO assess the quality of the data it receives and disseminates and report on how data reliability, where necessary, could be improved for submission to the next Session of the Sub-Committee.

44. The Sub-Committee recognized the continuing efforts of FAO in formulating and reaching consensus on an internationally acceptable working definition of aquaculture. It pointed out that this was essential in order to differentiate clearly between production from aquaculture and that from capture fisheries. In this regard, the Sub-Committee highlighted the need for clear definitions on aquaculture-based fisheries and emerging technologies (e.g. there was a need for greater harmonization on production systems such as tuna fattening). In particular concern was expressed by several delegations regarding the current reporting status on tuna fattening, which increased uncertainty in statistical information to manage resources. It was stressed that improvement of reporting in this regard is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of resource conservation measures taken by regional fishery organizations.

45. Many delegates noted the need for assistance from FAO in developing unified standards and guidelines for data collection. It was noted that duplication of effort in data collection should be avoided since in many member countries, the number and availability of fisheries staff for statistical work is often limited. Particular mention was made of the need for incorporation of aquaculture into relevant existing national data collection systems (e.g. agricultural census, consumption and labour surveys). Some delegates stated that there is a need for identifying the most appropriate methodologies for data collection for each production system in view of the great variety and diversity in aquaculture.

46. The Sub-Committee stressed that training and education in data collection, analysis, storage, management and dissemination were fundamental in securing the availability of good quality data. Some delegates requested FAO to continue to assist them in building national capacity on these issues through the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme. In view of the limited resources available the Sub-Committee recognized that the organization of regional workshops was a cost effective tool for providing training on statistical information management systems.

47. Several delegates referred to the Technical Consultation on Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries held in Rome, Italy from 25 to 28 March 2002, which agreed on a draft international strategy on the subject, that will be submitted to COFI in 2003. As aquaculture could not be incorporated into this strategy, the Sub-Committee suggested that an approach should be developed for improving information on aquaculture status and trends.

48. Some delegates noted that the quality of FAO fisheries and aquaculture statistics is affected by incomplete reporting. It was suggested that FAO should continue to make efforts to facilitate reporting through improvement of its statistical enquiry and its procedures for communication with Members. In this respect, the Sub-Committee was informed of the work of the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) in which, inter alia, Eurostat, OECD and FAO work together on harmonizing aspects of data quality and accessibility. In this regard the European Community informed the Sub-Committee that its Members are obliged to report on aquaculture production. For this purpose, only the first part of the FAO questionnaire was used; the second part should be examined more closely to study the definition proposed by FAO as well as the concept of confidentiality.

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