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Items in the CWP-19 Report requiring action are reproduced here in bold and paragraph numbers refer to that report. A description of follow-up action is given for each.

Para. 8. Despite trends in the opposite direction, CWP recommended that efforts should be pursued with classification maintenance agencies to make trade classifications for fishery commodities more detailed, especially for species of little volume of trade, but for which there are conservation concerns.

The FAO fishery commodities classification has been expanded to include about 20 new commodities.

This issue was discussed at the Eighth Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade (COFI:FT, Bremen, 12-16 February 2002) in para 27: “Several delegates underscored the importance of harmonization of customs classification codes for fish and fishery products and of improvement of specification, especially for products from the southern hemisphere. FAO was requested to offer technical advice and guidance in this field to the World Customs Organization (WCO), the competent authority in this area. The Sub-Committee was informed that the next revision of the customs classification by WCO is planned to take place in 2005-2006 and that any work carried out by FAO should be in preparation for that exercise.” The Secretary of COFI:FT formed a small technical working group on the issue including a FIDI staff member, and the following two scenarios were identified to be proposed to the WCO:

1. Prepare a complete list of species and product forms that should be added to the harmonized system. This list would be based on the obvious omissions (tilapia, catfish, Nile perch, other tropical freshwater fish, tropical demersal species), the EU full nomenclature for 03, 1604, 1605 plus the existing listing of trade names in the FAO International Standard Statistical Classification of Fishery Commodities (ISSCFC);

2. In view of the new trade rules (traceability, responsible fish trade) and new technology (bar codes, chips), the other option would be to propose a fully fledged traceability system which would track the fish from the vessel or from the fish pond to the consumer, with a bar code, which would be used for official certification by inspectors, in the processing plants, at the border points, and in the supermarket. The system would utilize country and product codes.

The first option might be the most acceptable for WCO, whereas the second takes technical and trade changes into account, and would be easier to apply in the long term. Probably the second option could receive some blessing from countries and the EU, and could be promoted by them, but implies substantial work to be done, including expertise (tracefish, EAN·UCC standards[1], bar codes etc.) not necessarily available inside FAO. The border control would be just one step more in the flowchart below (taken from TRACEABILITY OF FISH GUIDELINES - Application of EAN·UCC Standards in implementing EU legislation and business requirements regarding consumer information and traceability), depending whether the product passes the border or not.

10.1 Captured Fish

Para. 9. Although some of the possible reasons for discrepancies among fishery trade data of CWP agencies were identified, CWP recommended that Eurostat, FAO and OECD should investigate the causes of discrepancies in published data and should attempt to eliminate these discrepancies or, where the differences were due to the use of differing concepts in the compilation of the data, provide adequate documentation in the publications explaining the concepts used.

The secretariats of OECD, FAO and Eurostat have reviewed the published trade statistics identifying several discrepancies between the three sets of data, with the largest differences for Denmark and the Netherlands. In many cases the OECD data are significantly different from those published by Eurostat and FAO, the latter two being generally similar. Since FAO obtains its foreign trade data for EU countries from Eurostat, major differences among statistics published by FAO and Eurostat are due to data obtained in a different time period and the addition to custom data by FAO of domestic fleet direct landings abroad (exports) and foreign vessels direct landings in home ports (imports), data that are usually excluded from the official export/import data; for EU countries this is done systematically for Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The major reason for the discrepancies of the foreign trade data published by FAO, Eurostat and OECD was identified in the fact that OECD receives its foreign trade data directly from the national autorities that may use differing concepts when supplying the data to Eurostat. In fact, Eurostat also receives the data from the national authorities, but the transmission of the data is covered by EU legislation governing the format and concepts to be used in compiling the data. Thus, in principle, the data are harmonized. Other main sources of discrepancies identified are conceptual differences in the treatment of goods in transit, the trade system, the partner country and the use of revised figures. Subsequently, it was decided to compare the three datasets with UN Comtrade data and the result was that the OECD and Comtrade data are generally very similar, or identical, as they both obtain the data from the national authorities using different concepts from those used by the national authorities in meeting the EU legislation.

Eurostat proposed to supply OECD with Eurostat data. This follows a proposal of the Task Force on International Trade Statistics held in Vienna in March 2000, in which the topic of discrepancies in published trade data (not just fisheries trade data) was discussed. The outcome of the meeting was a proposal that the data submitted to Eurostat by the national authorities should be given priority. A meeting will be organized in Paris in the first quarter of 2003 to further review these issues.

Para. 18. According to the FAO Compliance Agreement, data diffusion would be restricted to Governments of Parties to the Agreements and Regional Fishery Bodies. FAO would, however, be interested in receiving listings of vessels from regional fishery bodies which could be included in a parallel database (accessible to whoever the data providers decide), both to verify the Record data, and to attempt to estimate global fishing capacity. CWP recommended that Vessel Name, National registration number, Flag, Fishing gear, Size, including LOA and capacity of hold, Party providing authorization to fish and Provider organization, where available, be exchanged among tuna agencies and programs.

In July 2002 FAO released its High Seas Vessel Authorization Record (HSVAR) web-based application, under restricted access. The Vessel Record now contains 6443 records from 17 countries. All CWP-19 recommended fields are part of this application, although “Party providing authorization” is not explicit but reflected through the “flag” value. Also, gear type is not specifically included, but somewhat reflected through Vessel type. This prototype application allows a “basic download” of selected vessel records. In the perspective of a generalization of requirements for the management of Vessel records, it should be noted that the field “Party providing authorization” would be fully useful if it were paired with the associated area of competence (or management unit). No real attempt to exchange vessel data has so far been made.

Para. 20. CWP reviewed the Report of the Meeting of Agencies Participating in FIGIS-FIRMS which was held on 9 July 2001 in Nouméa (Appendix 7) and agreed that FIGIS-FIRMS offers a good opportunity to facilitate improved reporting on fishery status and trends through cooperation amongst CWP agencies. It was agreed that progress on the development of FIGIS-FIRMS should be reviewed at CWP-20.

A report on progress on the development of FIGIS-FIRMS is presented in the document prepared for the working group meeting preceding CWP20.

Para. 108. CWP agreed that the agenda for the next CWP should include an item on agency data collection standards, with STATLANT as one sub-item.

This is taken under item 17 of the CWP-20 agenda. National data collection methodologies and data quality criteria and indicators are addressed under item 8.

Para. 109. CWP agreed that the CWP Newsletter (formerly the STATLANT Newsletter) should be continued and gratefully accepted Eurostat’s offer to continue the editing of the Newsletter. It was further agreed that:

the Newsletter should be placed on the CWP website;
the Newsletter should have links to the agency websites in order to reduce the risk of inclusion of outdated information;
a list of meetings relevant to fishery statisticians should be maintained in the Newsletter on the website;
the CWP member agencies are encouraged to submit contributions to the Newsletter editor.

Eurostat has continued to edit the CWP Newsletter during the intersessional period. It is available for consultation at and is ready for loading on the CWP website. The Newsletter includes links to all the CWP agency websites and information on meetings of interest to fishery statisticians. Very few spontaneous contributions to the Newsletter have been received from the CWP agencies.

Para. 120. CWP recommended that the efforts made by regional fishery bodies and FAO and FAO to improve elasmobranch reporting and statistics should be intensified.

See sections of agency papers dealing with CWP-20 agenda item 7.

Para. 121. CWP agreed that collection of species-specific statistics should be included in the agenda of future meetings, taking in broader aspects including species of special interest such as aquatic reptiles, marine mammals and seabirds as well as observer programmes and methods for estimating catches of non-target species.

Where relevant, this item can be addressed under item 17 of the CWP-20 agenda.

Para. 139. The problem of inconsistent usage of terms of catch, discards, landings and bycatch among different bodies was noted and CWP agreed that this problem should be on the agenda for discussion at its next session.

See sections of agency papers dealing with CWP-20 agenda item 11.

Para. 142. CWP congratulated Eurostat for the work in compiling the Integrated Catch Statistics for the Atlantic, recognizing that, while the principles were clear, the integration of the data from the various sources was not straightforward. CWP agreed that the file should be updated, though ICCAT pointed out that, while it would collaborate to the limit of its resources, the essential restructuring of its database was the secretariat’s first priority. It was agreed that, while the maximum of data from ICCAT would be included in the updated file, where these were not available tuna data from the regional agencies or FAO would be used, with the mention of the appropriate source.

With the assistance of the relevant CWP agencies Eurostat has updated the Integrated Atlantic catch file with the data for 1950-1999. Due to the continuing work on restructuring of the ICCAT database, FAO was used as the source of data on tuna catches for the latest year. The updating of the file to include data for 2000 is planned but has yet to be completed.

Para. 150. CWP considered the addition of further fields in the HSVAR database could be useful. CWP agreed that for the purpose of inter-agency exchanges of vessel records, a unique vessel identifier should be assigned to each vessel, since current vessel identifiers (such as vessel name, flag state and registration number in the flag state, radio call sign, etc.) are unstable. CWP also agreed that a field indicating whether the vessel is actively fishing should be added, where possible, recognizing that it may be difficult for national governments to provide this information. It was recognized that because the purpose of HSVAR is to identify vessels, only those fields which can be used for that purpose should be included and that the inclusion of other fields might overly burden the providers of the data.

See under Para. 152 recommendation.

Para. 152. CWP recommended that FAO draft a list of essential and desirable vessel identifiers for vessel registries (keeping them to a minimum) for the consideration of CWP agencies and that FAO consult with them regarding the use of unique vessel identifiers in HSVAR and CWP agency vessel registries.

In order to promote the exchange of vessel data among agencies, FAO elaborated three documents: 1) proposals to improve vessel identification and information exchange flows in the HSVAR context (“Proposals for standardization_final.doc”), 2) topic tree for the structuring and exchange of High Seas Fishing Vessel records (“Topic tree and element definition-3.1.doc”), and 3) “proposed workflow scenarios for regular exchange of vessel records” (“Workflow_ scenarios.doc”). These documents are now published on the recently advertised FIMES electronic forum to trigger a discussion with the expected result being a consolidation of the proposal for standard exchange formats, including a procedure for the continuous allocation of a unique identifier, as well as a general agreement on exchange workflows. An essential part of the proposal is the inclusion of a unique HSVAR_ID (and its non HSVAR_ID complement) identifier. An electronic discussion among RFB agencies took place on this matter and seems to have reached the required level of start-up agreement. In an attempt to strengthen the HSVAR Identifier, it should be stressed that the agencies involved in the exchange of vessel records should make every effort to include in parallel the IMO number (derived from the Lloyds identifier) where it exists, as the IMO number appears to be available for 60% of the vessels included in the HSVAR database.

Para. 156. Since the current cycle of changes to ISIC (and to the Central Product Classification) will be completed by 2007, there may still be time for further agency proposals to flow to the Technical Subgroup reviewing the proposals for changes to ISIC Rev. 3. CWP recommended that relevant agencies keep track of these developments and see to it that any sub-classes for fishing and fish farming agreed upon at regional level are in harmony with ISIC Rev. 3.

No developments were noted since the splitting of fishing and fish farming which was discussed at CWP-19.

Para. 159. Eurostat reported that its fleet statistics are derived from European Commission’s administrative file of fishing vessels. EU member countries’ contributions to this file were submitted using national classifications of vessel type. At the EU level, these were processed into a simplified classification of three items. Thus Eurostat would be unable to supply statistics using the proposed ISSCFV classification and it is unlikely that the European Commission would have the resources to reprocess the data. Eurostat would initiate a discussion of the proposed classification at the next meeting of its Working Group “Fishery Statistics” in February 2002 and FAO would be invited to present the proposal to the national representatives.

Eurostat also informed that eleven countries have now agreed to the exchange of the encrypted fishing fleet data files from the Statistical Register of EEA fishing vessels together with the supporting software. One country had refused this exchange and the reply from the remaining three countries was awaited. Important advances were made concerning the fleet data. Eurostat noted that there was a great demand for fleet statistics for the Candidate Countries, particularly for information on the impact of these fleets on the EU fleet after accession to the EU. Pending a formal agreement with DG-FISH, and noting that the best method of providing the required data flexibility was by the development of registers of the fishing fleet, countries indicated that they have registers, in some cases not complete and in other cases in more than one file. Although some of them noted that they may have to seek the approval of their fisheries administrations for final approval, countries present declared their willingness to send to Eurostat the records currently existing on the national registers, albeit accepting that the files may not have a complete coverage of the fleet. The information to be provided would include for each vessel the length, the tonnage, the power of the main engine and the year of construction. No information permitting the identification of individual vessels was required and the submitted files would be subject to the same rules on confidentiality as are the files obtained from EU Member States.

Para. 162. CWP recommended that the proposal for revision be accepted as a revision to ISSCFV. Discussions are still required on certain details of the proposal, particularly on the Longliner breakdown. Both Eurostat and IOTC proposed promoting the freezer and wetfish longliner classification above that of midwater and bottom longliners. FAO will follow up on this aspect by sending fact sheets to the CWP participants of the proposed categories to trigger further discussion.

Follow-up discussions held during the 2001 CWP intersessional meeting in Rome 21-22 March 2002 agreed on the Longliner breakdown. However, the same meeting requested that guidance be given by vessel architect specialists on a possible breakdown of the category “multipurpose vessels”. Subsequent discussions with staff of the Fishery Technology Service in FAO elicited the following points:

The larger the vessel, the more specialized it is likely to be. Most vessels less than 20m in length are multipurpose.

Fishing with “pumps” is very rare (probably less than 20 vessels in the world) and should probably be deleted on grounds of insignificance.

“Platforms for molluscs” should also be deleted as it is not a fishing practice.

“Polyvalent vessels” should be renamed “Multipurpose vessels” in the English language version.

“Pelagic trawler/purse seiner” should be added as a well established “dual purpose design” category.

“Lift netters” should be moved to the top category.

CWP-20 was provided with copies of revised classifications taking account of these points.

Para. 165. Two possible options were presented to CWP to redistribute these newly classified species items into ISSCAAP groups. CWP expressed its preference for the following option and recommended that FAO should follow it for the revision of the ISSCAAP groups.


Present ISSCAAP group

Proposed revision


Species items to be added

Species items to be removed


Flounders, halibuts, soles

Flounders, halibuts, soles



Cods, hakes, haddocks

Cods, hakes, haddocks



Redfishes, basses, congers

Miscellaneous coastal fishes


Mullets & threadfins

Demersal species from group 33


Jacks, mullets, sauries

Miscellaneous demersal fishes


Demersal species from group 33; snoeks & cutlassfishes

All species from group 34 except lanternfishes


Herrings, sardines, anchovies

Herrings, sardines, anchovies



Tunas, bonitos, billfishes

Tunas, bonitos, billfishes



Mackerels, snoeks, cutlassfishes

Miscellaneous pelagic fishes


All species from group 34 except mullets & threadfins

Snoeks & cutlassfishes


Sharks, rays, chimaeras

Sharks, rays, chimaeras


Miscellaneous marine fishes

Marine fishes not identified

The revision of the ISSCAAP groups, in accordance with the option preferred by CWP-19, was implemented in the first release (March 2002) of the FAO capture and aquaculture production databases following CWP-19.

The option agreed by CWP-19 is summarized in a table at para. 165 of the CWP-19 Report; a previously discarded version of the ISSCAAP revision was erroneously included in “Appendix 10 - Items requiring action in CWP-19 Report” of the same Report. The table presented here above is the correct version of the table as presented in the main body of the CWP-19 Report.

Para. 172. It was noted that in certain instances, particularly for highly migratory species, it is desirable to look at specific criteria (e.g. aggregation of species) for issuing code groupings. CWP recommended that FAO look into such possibilities as new codes are being issued.

See under recommendation for para. 173.

Para. 173. For the year 2002, a printed version of the ASFIS list of species has been planned in collaboration with ASFA. This printed version, at request of CWP, will also contain explanations on the methodologies adopted and on criteria followed in the compilation and continuous updating of the list, and on the treatment of particular cases.

The hard copy version of the “ASFIS list of species for fishery statistics purposes” was published by FAO in October 2002 and copies distributed to CWP members, national correspondents and various institutions. As recommended by CWP-19, this publication includes a trilingual introductory section describing methodologies and criteria adopted in the compilation of the list, and on the treatment of particular cases such as aggregation of species.

As envisaged by FAO and informed at the intersessional CWP meeting in March 2002, ISSCAAP codes have been assigned to all species items included in the list and published in the hard copy publication of the ASFIS list.

Para. 187. CWP agreed that details concerning statistical methodologies used in the provision of information by countries are very useful and recommended that regional agencies should distribute this information amongst CWP agencies and make this information available to FIGIS.

Following-up on the proposal made by FAO at CWP-19 for a standard template documenting statistical dataset and related methodologies, and taking into account the recommendations made in 2002 on this subject by the “Statistical Methodologies and Data Management” working group advising on the upgrade of the FAO corporate statistical system (FAOSTAT2 project), FIGIS refined the template and tested it applying it to the seven FIDI and two Tuna global statistical data sets. A preliminary web-based dissemination prototype was implemented and can be consulted at (then FIMES-HSVAR). Although a reference to the data source is part of this template designed according to a fractal approach, the data sources (from national offices and from regional fishery bodies) are not yet documented per se. FAO thus recommends that this product be evaluated by the CWP agencies for possible amendments, the final objective being to set-up a standard with agreed metadata definitions for the purpose of quality assuring statistical collections.

Para. 190. As a basis for possible future advocacy by CWP for improving the quality of fishery statistics, CWP recommended that the following areas should be investigated by the Secretariat during the intersessional period and presented to CWP-20 as a proposal:

collate, summarize and prioritize reports from recent technical and management meetings where specific statistical data needs were identified and calls made in support of data collection activities;
identify examples and reasons for success of successful projects and programmes where an improvement in the quality of statistical data has led to improved science and better fishery management. Demonstrate the cost effectiveness of collecting higher quality data. Identify examples of unsuccessful projects and programmes and the reasons for failure and demonstrate the cost of not collecting data; and
identify specific problems which require immediate attention and action needed to improve these situations.

A study was undertaken and a document prepared which was reviewed by the intersessional meeting of the CWP in March 2002 and the document subsequently revised. It is provided as document CWP-20/5 and was presented under agenda item 9 of CWP-20.


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