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Conference Center, Victoria, Seychelles, 20 January 2003

Preamble: in order to facilitate the reading of this report, the acronyms FIGIS, FIRMS, and FIGIS-FIRMS are hereby defined:

FIGIS: the Fisheries Global Information System, is a web-based information management tool that integrates fisheries information and interconnects groups of institutional partnerships to build up a network of subsystems

FIRMS: The Fishery Resources Monitoring System is a partnership drawing together international organizations, regional fishery bodies and national scientific institutes, collaborating within a formal agreement, who are willing to report and share information on status and trends of fishery resources.

FIGIS-FIRMS: this describes the FIGIS sub-system taking care of the management and dissemination of information shared within the FIRMS partnership. Core modules for this sub-system comprise resources, stocks, fisheries and fisheries management systems, whereas peripheral modules include species, fishing techniques.

1. A meeting of the agencies involved in the FIRMS initiative was held in the International Conference Centre in Victoria, Seychelles on 20 January 2003, to review the progress of FIGIS and FIRMS and to discuss standards and mechanisms for future progress in relation to international participation in the supply of appropriate information. The meeting was attended by most of the participants to the subsequent CWP-20 meeting (21-24 January 2003).

2. Mr David Cross (Eurostat) was appointed Chair of the meeting with M. Taconet and D. Evans as Rapporteurs. The participants are listed in Annex 1.

3. The agenda was approved (Annex 2). The documents referred to by the meeting were:

the FIGIS-FIRMS January 2003 progress report

Documentation relevant to FIRMS from the CWP Intersessional March 2002 meeting (paragraphs 3 to 10)

FIGIS-FIRMS methodological Workshop (July 2002) report

FIRMS draft Partnership Agreement (third version)

I. Review of the Progress status on the FIGIS and the FIRMS developments, and workplan

4. Referring to the progress report, and summarising developments in the last 2.5 years, the FIRMS Secretariat highlighted what was expected from the meeting on technical and on institutional aspects. After this introduction, the Chairman oriented the debate towards defining the initial partners to establish FIRMS, a critical point that needed clarification before the FIRMS partnership agreement could be launched. The questions raised were:

Which international and national bodies have requested participation in FIRMS?

What criteria should be adopted governing the participation of organizations other than the RFBs?

Should information that contradicts information provided by RFBs be accepted?

If diverging information is to be accepted, how should it be treated within the system?

Given the particularly heavy burden of setting up FIRMS, should the initial number of participants be limited?

Does an increasing number of non-RFB participants pose a risk to the functioning of the FIRMS Steering Committee (FSC)?

5. The Regional Fishery Bodies (RFBs) are not covering all stocks, and FIRMS is a global monitoring system. Therefore national institutions should be able to become partners wherever they can contribute information to complement (but not overlap with) RFBs’ information on the status of fishery resources. However, FIRMS should not be a forum for confronting alternative views. This should be done within the RFBs or through a multilateral mechanism established for this purpose.

6. A fundamental aspect of the FIRMS Information Management Policy (IMP) to be developed by the FIRMS Steering Committee (FSC) should be that data ownership is establishedon resource units according to the institution’s mandate, and that a data owner has full control over the information being disseminated on the resource units it owns. FIGIS-FIRMS should be configured so that the system prevents any national partner from reporting on resource units which fall under the mandate of a RFB partner.

7. The FIRMS secretariat will not be in a position to respond to a sudden and strong demand in managing information from many partners. To limit this workload on the Secretariat, the meeting agreed that national organizations should not be part of the partnership agreement during the launching phase. The meeting also agreed that national organizations matching agreed criteria (to be established by the FSC) should be eligible to become members of FIRMS as soon as possible. On its establishment the FSC should give a high priority to developing such criteria in order to ensure that the institutional framework is set up in such a way that FIRMS is not distracted/diverted from its initial purpose, which is to provide as complete a global information source as possible.

8. The existence within various RFBs of differences between officially reported data and the data used in stock assessments was noted and this underlined the need for FIRMS to include documentation on the data used in particular contexts.

9. The meeting noted FAO’s intention of compiling inventories of, for example, resource units or fisheries at national level, but proposed that until the FSC has established clear guidelines on the criteria for including Resource or Fishery units in the inventory, this information remains under restricted access.

10. To facilitate the internal process of acceptance of the Partnership Agreements by the RFBs, the FIRMS Secretariat was requested to make available a fully functional demonstration of the FIGIS tool.

11. A fundamental concept in the draft Partnership Agreement (see Article 2) states that “information contributions remain within the full control and ownership of the Institutional Party, including control of what and when information is made available, and how it is processed”. The Information Management Policy, and the Rules of Procedures of the FSC will constitute two fundamental tools and will require careful formulation by the FSC.

12. Following discussion on these fundamental points, the technical aspects of agenda item 1 were reviewed. The FIRMS Secretariat proposed that the meeting considered the FIGIS-FIRMS development in relation to the following aspects:

Dissemination of the current prototype on the internet, with the consent of data owners

Progress in setting the baseline standards

Identifying potential partners which are ready to start testing contributions

Identifying potential partners which are willing to participate in the further inventories of stocks, resources or fishery units

13. Referring to the indicative workplan developed by the FIGIS-FIRMS methodological workshop in July 2002 (end of Annex A), the FIRMS Secretariat stressed that the FIGIS team had accomplished most of the planned tasks and that actions/feedback was now expected from partners on the validation of the prototype for the data they own, on the feedback needed to consolidate revised metadata standards, and on test contributions that should allow tailoring the system functionality.

14. ICCAT would be prepared to validate the prototype, provided there is no distortion of the SCRS report. However ICCAT would require training, in order to start test contributions. Early April would be a good period for a training session.

15. ICES said that it has set aside resources in its 2003 workplan, and that information would be forthcoming by June 2003. Early April would be a good period for a training session.

16. IOTC said it would be in a position to report very soon on two main species and has the technical expertise to submit in XML format.

17. SPC affirmed that it was familiar with XML tools and would hope to contribute using the most recent assessments of bigeye, skipjack, yellowfin and albacore in WCPO.

18. The meeting was further informed of the recent “inventory of fisheries” action which the FAO Fisheries Department decided to launch and of the validation role which was expected from the regional organizations. In response to the doubts expressed by some participants as to the usefulness of an inventory of fisheries, the Secretariat insisted that the inventory’s emphasis is on monitoring, and not on fisheries management. The participants are unable to fully validate the lists provided by FAO. On the other hand, SPC and CCAMLR have provided FAO with their lists of fisheries, and ICCAT intends to do so by the start of 2004.

II. Revision of the fourth version of the proposed FIRMS Partnership Agreement

19. The objective of agenda item II was to agree on a final draft of the FIRMS Partnership Agreement document for presentation to a special ad hoc meeting of potential FIRMS partners (a forerunner of the FSC) at the time of the COFI meeting. The previous draft had been elaborated after the March 2002 CWP intersessional meeting, and comments received had been either reflected in the text when clarifying content, or elsewhere left aside for discussion during the present meeting. These latest comments were split into those likely to be resolved through bilateral talks outside the meeting, and those requiring plenary session debate due to their raising fundamental questions of system governance and costs (operation of the FSC, and Information Management Policy).

20. The ICCAT representative added four comments to the previously compiled list:

who will be in the initial partnership

what are the voting procedures

ICCAT owning various statistical data sets, what kind of statistics are referred to under article 4/par.6

ICCAT human resources are quite limited

Partnership Agreement document and package

21. The meeting addressed these comments one by one and decided either

1) to modify the draft Partnership document, or

2) to provide the answer in the information management policy document. It was also decided that the footnotes should be removed from the version that the partners will sign.

22. It was agreed that the initial partnership should be limited to the Regional Fishery Body agencies which have expressed an interest in joining. In addition to its role in holding the FIRMS Secretariat, FAO should be considered a partner with same entitlements and position as other partners.

23. In order to prevent FIRMS from deviating from its original purpose, the FIRMS framework (Partnership Agreement, Rules of Procedures, Information Management Policy) should be in place before participation is opened to additional partners.

24. The Partnership Agreement package should comprise:

The Partnership Agreement document for signature, free of footnotes, to which an annex is attached containing detailed agencies-specific provisions. For those agencies (e.g. ICES) already having MOUs with FAO, the preamble will specify that this is a specific instance of partnership as part of the more general MOU.

The Partnership Agreement guidelines, composed of the Partnership Agreement document with footnotes, the guidelines for the detailed arrangements (plus possibly 1 or 2 real examples of detailed arrangements), the guidelines for the Rules of Procedures of the FSC, the guidelines for the Information Management Policy, and one page informing which were partners at a particular point in time.

25. Referring to the third question from ICCAT (see above) about the kind of statistical data sets to include, the FIRMS Secretariat reminded the participants that Article 3 par.4 sets the scope of the partnership, with modules certainly at the core of Partnership’s concerns (stocks, resources, management units, fisheries, management systems), and others less central (species, fishing techniques). Statistics would be considered relevant as long as they support the assessments.

Partnership Agreement document: Financial aspects

26. Concerning the costs for the partner agencies, there were varying opinions. Some of the agencies considered that participation in FIRMS could give added value to their data. However, in some cases FIRMS could be seen as duplicating existing dissemination methods. The FIRMS Secretariat insisted that the FIRMS module design was very scalable and allowes for a range of contribution types, from simple links, to pdf documents, to in-depth tagging of documents. NAFO suggested that a demonstration of FIRMS to it Standing Committee on Research Coordination would be useful in providing a better understanding of the merits of participation in FIRMS.

27. The FIRMS Secretariat also reported from a meeting held with the EU Commission’s DG FISH International Direction, that this Direction will support the FIRMS development in the Commissions of which it is a member. ICES, which sees this contribution as one of its core activities with the objective of presenting general information on the status of stocks to general public, would be looking for funding through the regular contributions of its member countries.

28. Some agencies are not in a position to accept under the agreement something that would financially bind them, requiring provisions for an annual budget. Funds would either be coming from donations for specific projects (in which case the donor agency will have to see the benefits), or occasionally from FAO inputs (Regular Programme or Trust Funds), a percentage of which being allocated under the guidance of the FSC. The institutional party will have to cover the costs of its contribution to FIRMS, as mutually agreed, including submission of information to FIRMS, attendance to the FSC meetings, and additional services requested by the party.

29. The participants were requested to give an indication of the process and time-scale for the consideration of the Partnership Agreement by their agencies.

ICES will present the final draft to its Executive Bureau in June 2003, and to its Council in October 2003.

NAFO will present it to its Scientific Council meeting in June 2003 and subject to the outcome of that discussion, it may be submitted to the NAFO Annual Meeting in September 2003. A demonstration of FIRMS at the June 2003 NAFO Scientific Council meeting could be a useful contribution to its deliberations.

ICCAT, CCSBT, and IOTC hope to have the Agreement cleared by their Commissions respectively in October, October and December 2003. CCSBT requested that a presentation version (or demo) be made available.

SPC and Eurostat hope to have the Partnership Agreement approved within a few months. The Partnership Agreement with SPC may eventually be superseded by an agreement with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, when it becomes operational.

Information Management Policy:

30. The elements relevant to the information management policy compiled in Annex D of the FIGIS-FIRMS progress status report were presented for consideration by the FSC. This document varies in its level of detail, and sometimes confuses what should be under the responsibility of the Party and what is of Information Management Policy nature. The meeting agreed that the document requires much editorial work before being considered as firm guidelines. The participants will receive a revised version of the guidelines for their comments.

III. Preparation of the first session of the FIRMS Steering Committee

Rules of Procedures of the FIRMS Steering Committee

31. The meeting proposed that the FSC establish at its first sessions its Rules of Procedures, and its Information Management Policy. Hence the present discussion focussed on how to help the FSC in this process, by presenting sound guidelines and/or start-up documents. The following aspects of the Rules of Procedures were discussed:

32. Subject to the provisions of paragraph 23 and 24, new participating institutions will be welcomed to join the FIRMS partnership, subject to certain criteria, the most salient of which being that their reporting complements what FIRMS already covers, and that they should respect certain standards according to the Information Management Policy. In order to ensure the former, the meeting proposed to modify the current draft Rules of Procedure’s wordings in order to guarantee that the candidate institution has received a FIRMS compatible mandate from an intergovernmental body or a national government. For the national level, a suitable wording was deemed to be “institutions mandated by a Government”.

33. It was agreed that for the purpose of electing a national institution as a FIRMS partner, a 2/3 majority of votes would be appropriate. The alternative, a consensus, might be too constraining. Points to be considered by the FSC prior to the decision being taken would be whether or not the organization has the required mandate for the stocks and an assessment of the quality of the work of the institute (including the existence of peer-review processes). The Information Management Policy should mention a set of quality criteria that would inform users on the level of quality of the institution’s report.

34. It was also agreed that voting rules for decisions relevant to standards, and decisions relevant to use of budget at disposal should be taken by majority, should no consensus be reached. The FSC will have to consider carefully the level at which an institutional party is defined. In other words, the FSC should decide whether the institutional party is defined at the level of contributing programmes (possibly more than one programme would contribute to FIRMS within one institution), institutions (possibly more than one institution within one country) or country.

35. Secret voting, if necessary, should be reserved for the election of Chairperson and Vice-chairperson. Weighting of votes (for example, according to criteria such as number of programmes contributing information on behalf of the institutional party) is not recommended.

36. As far as budget implementation is concerned, the FSC should have an advisory role to review and comment upon the budget. Should funds be secured, the FSC should recommend particular procedures for handling this fund. This aspect could be part of a specific topic in the Rules of Procedures entitled “management of financial inputs”, or could be developed as part of meetings’ agenda.

Respective roles of CWP and FIRMS Steering Committee in the management of standards

37. Referring to various paragraphs of the FIGIS-FIRMS 2002 methodological workshop, indicating that a possible confusion on the respective roles of CWP and FSC in the management of standards could exist. The FIRMS Secretariat proposed that the meeting should provide guidance on this issue. It was recalled that FIGIS develops its metadata standards using, as far as possible, existing standards (ISO, CWP fishery statistical standards, Dublin Core, Agricultural Metadata Element Set), but extending these where necessary. The following dimensions should be taken into account in this respect:

are standards for statistical data, or for non-statistical data?
are standards international, or local ones?
are we considering concepts, lists of topics, classifications, or Metadata?

38. The meeting agreed that CWP and FSC are two distinct mechanisms which should however remain in close collaboration. There is a necessity to distinguish between standards which are at the core of CWP work, and formats which primarily concern FIRMS. It was recognized that the new dimension introduced by FIGIS-FIRMS was the metadata (or formats, i.e. ways to package data), both for statistics and non-statistics. Most metadata elements refer to concepts and terms either already covered by one of the above mentioned standard sources, or for which definitions are already applied within agencies. What FIRMS needs is to internally organize the definitions from external sources, in order to structure and present in a harmonized way the presentation of data received from these sources. The notion of “working definition” was proposed and deemed appropriate. Working definitions should help users to supply data in a consistent and harmonized way.

39. It had been proposed that an ad hoc meeting be held in Rome during the time of the COFI meeting (24-28 February 2003) to plan the establishment of the FIRMS Partnership with participants invited from CWP member organizations or other regional fishery bodies which have expressed an interest in participating in FIRMS.

40. The meeting proposed that the report of this session should be presented to the CWP for their consideration, as well as the information to be included in the package of documents. The participants will receive the last version of the FIRMS Partnership Agreement and will have two weeks to reply after which it will be considered as the final draft form.

Annex 1: List of participants

Amaratunga, Tissa
Assistant Executive Secretary
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
2 Morris Drive
PO Box 638, Dartmouth, N.S.
Canada B2Y 3Y9
Tel: +1 902 468 5590
Fax: +1 902 468 5538

Ardill, David
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)
PO Box 1011, Fishing Port
Victoria, Seychelles
Tel: +248 225494
Fax: + 248 224364

Cross, David
Head of Sector “Fisheries”
Directorate for Agriculture, Environment & Energy Statistics, Eurostat
Bâtiment Jean Monnet
BP 1907
Luxembourg, Grand Duchy
Tel: +352 4301 37249
Fax: +352 4301 37318

Evans, David
FAO Consultant
Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit (FIDI)
Fisheries Department
E-mail: evans.fisl@virgin.netand

Fonteneau, Alain
Institut de Recherche pour le Développment
P.O. Box 570
Victoria, Seychelles
Tel: +248 224742
Fax: +248 224742

Garibaldi, Luca
Fishery Statistician (Capture Production)
Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit (FIDI)
Fisheries Department
FAO, Rome 00100, Italy
Tel: +3906 57053867
Fax: +3906 57052476

Grainger, Richard
CWP Secretary
Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit (FIDI)
Fisheries Department
FAO, Rome 00100, Italy
Tel: +3906 57054828
Fax: +3906 57052476

Henrard, Michel
Senior Administrator
Directorate for Agricultural, Environmental,
Food and Regional Statistics, Eurostat
Bâtiment Jean Monnet
BP 1907
Luxembourg, Grand Duchy
Tel: +352 4301 33744
Fax: +352 4301 37318

Kato, Yasuhisa
Special Advisor
Southeast Asian Fisheries Development
Center (SEAFDEC)
Suraswadi Building, Department of Fisheries Compound
P.O. Box 1046 Kasetsart Post Office
Kasetsart University
Bangkok 1093, Thailand
Tel: +662 9406326 to 29
Fax: +662 9406336

Kebe, Papa
Head of Statistics Department
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
Corazón de María 8
Madrid 28002, Spain
Tel: +34 91 4165600
Fax: +34 91 415 2612

Kennedy, Robert
Database Manager
Commission for the Conservation of
Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)
PO Box 37, Deakin West
Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
Tel: +61 2 628 28396
Fax: +61 2 628 28407

Lassen, Hans
Fisheries Advisor
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
Palaegade 2-4, Copenhagen 1261, Denmark
Tel: +45 33386722 (direct)
Tel: +45 33386700 (switch board)
Fax: +45 33934215

Lawson, Tim
Fisheries Statistician
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
PO Box D5, Noumea Cedex
New Caledonia
Tel: +687 262000
Fax: +687 263818

Morgan, Joanne
NAFO Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
2 Morris Drive, PO Box 638, Dartmouth
Nova Scotia, Canada B2Y 3Y9
Tel: +1 902 468 5590
Fax: +1 902 468 5538

Ramm, David
Data Manager,
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
PO Box 213
North Hobart 7002, Australia
Tel: +61 3 62310556
Fax: +61 3 62349965

Taconet, Marc
FIGIS Officer
Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit
Fisheries Department
FAO, Rome 00100, Italy
Tel: +3906 57053799
Fax: +3906 57052476

Thomas, Andrew
Fisheries Research Officer
Seychelles Fishing Authority
Fishing Port
Victoria, Seychelles
Tel: +248 670300
Fax: +248 224508

Vannuccini, Stefania
Fishery Statistician
Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit (FIDI)
Fisheries department
FAO, Rome 00100, Italy
Tel: +39065054949
Fax: +390657052476

Wongsanga, Pouchmarn
Policy and Program Coordinator
Southeast Asian Fisheries Development
Center (SEAFDEC)
Suraswadi Building, Department of Fisheries Compound
P.O. Box 1046 Kasetsart Post Office
Kasetsart University
Bangkok 1093, Thailand
Tel: +662 9406326 to 29
Fax: +662 9406336

Annex 2: Meeting agenda

Second FIGIS-FIRMS ad hoc meeting

20 January 2003, Mahé, Seychelles


Objective: to come up with a proposal of partnership agreement to be considered by the first ad hoc Steering Committee meeting (planned for the 1st March 2003 in Rome)

Agenda items

1. Review of FIGIS-FIRMS progress status

2. Revision of the fourth version of the proposed FIRMS partnership agreement

Main document
Annex: Detailed arrangement
Annex: Information management policy

3. Preparation of the first session of the FIRMS Steering Committee

Guidelines for the annex to the partnership agreement: rules of procedures, and statutes of the Steering Committee

Respective roles of CWP and FIRMS Steering Committee on the management of standards

Annex 3


Partnership Agreement
providing for international cooperation
in the development and maintenance of the
Fisheries Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS)


WHEREAS the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries[2]:

provides guidance which may be used where appropriate in the formulation of international agreements and other legal instruments, both binding and voluntary;

calls for the promotion of international cooperation and coordination in all matters related to fisheries, including information gathering and data exchange, and fisheries research, management and development; and

recognizes that the special requirements of developing countries in implementing the Code need to be taken into account.

RECOGNIZING that partnerships between international and national institutions will assist in meeting the objectives of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, including the implementation of International Plans of Action.

RECOGNIZING ALSO that such partnerships may occur at many levels, including

global and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements;

national agencies and research institutions;

global and regional network partners providing complementary information; and

programmes and projects through which the objectives of this Agreement may be promoted[3].

NOTING that international and national fisheries institutions have a wide variety of mandates and responsibilities, which may change over time, and that partnership arrangements should reflect such mandates and responsibilities and adapt to new and changing institutional circumstances, as appropriate. Also noting that the Regional Fishery Bodies have an obligation to disseminate information on the status of fisheries and fish stocks.

NOW THEREFORE the (...institution name...) (the ‘Institutional Party’) and the FAO, hereinafter referred to together as ‘the Parties’, have agreed as follows:


1. The objective of this Agreement is to establish a framework between the Parties that, together with similar agreements between the FAO and other parties, will:

build a community of responsible institutions that are willing to report in an objective way on fisheries status and trends, thus contributing to the promotion of responsible fisheries management;

promote progressive development and extension of fisheries status and trends reporting to all fishery resources;

develop, share and maintain services for the collection, management and dissemination of information through a system for fisheries resources monitoring[4].

Article 2. PRINCIPLES[5]

2. The principles of this Agreement are based on cooperation between the Parties that will ensure that:

agreed information on fisheries resources, is shared and appropriately disseminated;

information contributions remain within the full control and ownership of the Institutional Party which has primary monitoring or management responsibility over Resource or Fishery units, including control of what and when information is made available, and how it is processed; and

documentation on information sources, ownership, data origins and collection methodologies, rules on dissemination and publication, and other matters specified by the Institutional Party, is maintained.


3. The general purposes of this Agreement are:

to establish a partnership for the development and implementation of the Fisheries Resources Monitoring System;

to establish the entitlements, responsibilities and obligations of the Parties; and

to specify in Annex 1 the detailed arrangements on the nature, scope and conditions under which information is made available to the Parties and, where applicable, to non-Parties.

4. The general benefits of this Agreement are to enable the Parties:

to make available, through direct access to their systems and/or through agreed dissemination channels, information on fisheries status and trends in ways that provide background for, and facilitate interpretation of, fishery resources assessments and fishery management advisory reports.

to offer the Parties and the general public direct access to general overviews[7] on fishery resources, including on, inter alia:

1. the distribution and population dynamics of a fishery resource;

2. the techniques, nature and conduct of the fishery for that resource; and

3. the fishery management systems in place or being developed.

to contribute to the fulfilment of commitments to improving transparency and accuracy of information of fishery resources status, while respecting confidentiality and security under which the information has been submitted, in ways that satisfy the owners of information concerned.


5. FAO will establish a FIRMS Secretariat with the following responsibilities:

to establish and maintain a FIRMS Steering Committee (FSC) with roles and responsibilities as described in Article 6;

to implement decisions of the FSC, and represent it in legal matters, in accordance with the policy established by the FSC;

to coordinate and administer financial inputs to the development of FIRMS and for the conduct of this partnership;

to maintain databases for the presentation of fishery information, or to establish databases jointly with the Institutional Party or with others when cooperative action is agreed;

supervise the implementation of FIRMS services, including

1. the application of systems of information quality control;

2. the development and implementation of software and information methodologies;

3. the development and implementation of training tools and methods, and the conduct of training, as appropriate.

where required, to receive and process information inputs from the Institutional Party, in particular for developing country institutions;

where required, to collate, control and process information on the status and trends of fisheries;

to administer requests from non-partners for FIRMS-related information; and

to provide the FIRMS with global level information on the status of resources and stocks in accordance with partnership agreed policies.

6. The responsibilities of the Institutional Party are to share within FIRMS information according to its mandate, or which is relevant to this partnership, including responsibilities, inter alia:

to present for inclusion in FIRMS databases fishery assessment and management reports, statistics and other related information in a timely manner and according to its own policies on ownership, transparency and quality assurance;

to maintain databases for the presentation of fishery information, and/or to establish databases jointly with FAO or with others when cooperative action is agreed;

in general to ensure collaboration with the work of the FSC, including in the identification of information that will complement each Party’s information sources and prevent duplication, and in attending meetings of the FSC;

to provide assistance to developing countries, where this is compatible with their mandate and area of competence.

Article 5. ENTITLEMENTS[9]

7. The entitlement of FAO shall be to make available to general public access the information that has been agreed for this purpose, together with information on the nature, origins and quality of the information.

8. The entitlements of the Institutional Party shall include:

full access to FIRMS system tools for the control and dissemination of proprietary information and the maintenance of applicable confidentiality;

access to FIRMS information and databases beyond the restrictions normally applied under FAO dissemination policy, e.g. to geographic information system (GIS) layers or other value-added products;

access to FIRMS services for training in the use of information tools and standards, for use of the shared software library and other information products.

requests to FIRMS on specific analyses or presentations.

9. Additional entitlements may be specified in Annex 1, which shall be amended as needed by mutual agreement of the Parties.


FIRMS Steering Committee (FSC)

10. The FSC is constituted of one member of FAO in its capacity of FIRMS partner, and one member from each institutional Party. FAO will in addition provide the Secretariat.

11. The Institutional Party shall participate fully in the work of the FSC, which will:

makes decisions by consensus, wherever possible, including on the adoption and amendment of its own Rules of Procedure[10], the current version of which is part of the Partnership Agreement guidelines; and

meet at regular intervals, as appropriate or required.

12. The Institutional Party shall contribute to the FSC decision-making and monitoring mechanism, which will:

monitor the development and performance of FIRMS and advise on improvements;

discuss, advise and take decisions on further system developments;

review the information management policy, including data capture, processing, publication, dissemination and quality assurance, of all Institutional Party members with a view to harmonization as appropriate;

review, advise and recommend formats and other standards that may be used by Institutional Parties;

review, advise and recommend changes to the databases presented on FIRMS with a view to the identification and elimination of information duplication and data inconsistencies;

review and comment upon the budget made available to the FSC, advise the FIRMS secretariat on the allocation of funds and recommend any particular procedures for handling this fund;

discuss and advise on any other matters pertaining to FIRMS;

decide on the criteria for eligibility of new partners.

Cost sharing

13. FAO will cover the costs of FIRMS development, FSC administration and the provision of Institutional Party entitlements under this Agreement through regular and trust fund arrangements.

14. The Institutional Party will cover the costs of information contributions to FIRMS, attendance at FSC meetings and additional FIRMS services, as agreed.[11]

Entry into force, amendment and termination of this Agreement[12]

15. This Agreement shall enter into force upon signature by the Parties.

16. The Parties shall review this Agreement every 6 years, or at lesser intervals if this is recommended by the FSC.

17. The Institutional Party may withdraw from this Agreement in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the FSC, and the Information Management Policy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties affix their signatures:





For and on behalf of:

The (Institutional Party - name):





For and on behalf of:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

Annex 4: Detailed arrangements on the nature, scope and conditions under which information is made available to the Parties and, where applicable, to non-Parties.

1. Data types and standards

The Parties shall cooperate for the definition and adoption of data types and standards appropriate for the required inputs to FIRMS, in accordance with applicable international standards and practices, or through the development of such standards and practices, and in sufficient detail to allow sound statistical analysis and presentation through FIRMS.

Where the Institutional Party has adopted data types and standards that are not completely consistent with international standards and practices, the Institutional Party shall provide an explanation and sufficient description of the ways in which its standards depart from international or adopted practices and, where possible, provide a means for conversion of the information supplied to the standards adopted by the Parties for use in FIRMS.

The data supplied to FIRMS shall consist of the following:

Report ... (report name/series)..... published from time to time[13]. AND/OR

resources (species/stocks), and shall include related details as described, together with aggregation information and according to an update schedule[14].


Stock estimate

Fishery details

Vessel Details

Technology details

Aggregation Details

Update schedule

2. Collection, authentication, processing and transmission

The Parties shall, where possible, provide supporting detail on a regular basis, or as necessary, on the information they supply to FIRMS, including:

(i) data collection methodologies and data precision used;

(ii) authentication of information sources, data verification undertaken and evaluation of the accuracy of the data supplied;

(iii) the level of primary processing prior to transmission, including the manner of data conversion and aggregation;

(iv) the data transmission format; and

(v) the transmission schedule expected, taking into account data processing and applicable confidentiality requirements, which shall not be unduly delayed from the events that the data describes.

The Parties shall cooperate and coordinate the provision of this supporting information where they have adopted regional standards and common data collection and processing methodologies[15].

3. Security, confidentiality, transparency and feedback[16]

FIRMS Partnership Agreement guidelines
Guidelines for the elaboration of Annex 1 on detailed arrangement

FAO shall develop and maintain the FIRMS database and application systems according to security standards commensurate with its standing as the global primary information source on the status and trends of fisheries.

The Parties may agree on the applicable confidentiality requirements (including, inter alia, access by non-Parties) that the Institutional Party may require for the information supplied to FIRMS, and on the agreed method that shall be used to aggregate, or remove identification from, such data to comply with such confidentiality requirements.

The Institutional Party shall not withhold the data required for the maintenance of FIRMS, where it is available, except in so far as to protect agreed confidentiality requirements, the basis of which shall be communicated to FAO.

The Institutional Party may inform FAO of any changes to its applicable confidentiality requirements. FAO shall undertake its best efforts to apply such changed requirements in a manner and time agreed.

4. Additional Entitlements[17]

In addition to the entitlements established in the Agreement, this Annex provides for the provision of information or FIRMS services for the purposes of:

.......................... etc.

Provision of these services is made on the basis of (full cost recovery; partial cost recovery according to an agreed formula; agreed contributions from the regular programme and trust fund arrangements; other donor or international agency contributions[18]).

Annex 5: (DRAFT) Rules of Procedure of the FIRMS Steering Committee[19]



Unless contrary to the views of the majority of participating institutions, the interval between successive sessions of the FIRMS Steering Committee (FSC) shall not exceed three years. The FSC shall meet on announcement by the FSC Secretariat, which shall respect the wishes of the majority of participating institution. The announcement shall generally be made at least six months before the session starts.


A provisional agenda for each session shall be prepared by the FSC Secretary in collaboration with the participating institutions. The first item on the provisional agenda shall be the adoption of the agenda. If funds are made available to the FIRMS partnership, the agenda will comprise an element entitled “handling of financial inputs”. The agenda shall be distributed with the announcement of the session.


Participating institutions should, where possible, notify the FSC Secretary of the names and affiliations of their nominated experts at least four months before the session.


Documents for each session should, if possible, be distributed to all participating organizations and nominated experts at least two months before the session. Each participating institution shall be responsible for the timely distribution of its documents in accordance with the mailing list supplied by the FSC Secretary.


At the start of the Session, the Chairman or Vice-Chairman appointed at the previous session shall call the session to order. In their absence, the FSC Secretary will call the session to order. Following adoption of the agenda, the FSC shall elect a Chairman and Vice-Chairman from among its members; they shall remain in office until the election of the new Chairman and new Vice-Chairman at the next session. The outgoing Chairman and Vice-Chairman shall be eligible for re-election.


The expenses incurred by experts attending sessions of the FSC shall be borne by the nominating institution or as otherwise arranged between the experts and the respective nominating institution.


English shall be the working language of the FSC.


A majority of the participating institutions shall constitute a quorum. Decisions of the FSC shall be taken by consensus. If all attempts to achieve consensus fail then decisions shall be made by a simple majority of votes cast by those present at the session. Each participating institution is entitled to one vote. When necessary, the Chairman may exercise a casting vote.


At each session the FSC shall adopt a report of the session, which will include inter alia all decisions and recommendations. The report shall be distributed by the FSC Secretary to the participating institutions and nominated experts, and to other individuals or organizations as requested by the FSC. FAO should make the report available as widely as possible.

FIRMS Partnership Agreement guidelines
Guidelines for the elaboration of Annex 1 on detailed arrangement


Although recommendations and decisions of the FSC are not binding on participating institutions, the FSC shall monitor and report on the implementation of recommendations and decisions.


The FSC may arrange such intersessional activities as are required for its effective functioning, including inter alia holding informal preparatory meetings, holding meetings of regional or subject groups, preparation of working papers, and communication by correspondence.


Suspension of the Rules of Procedure may be adopted by the FSC by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, provided that 24 hours' notice of the proposal for the suspension had been given to the FSC.


Amendments to the Rules of Procedure may be adopted by the FSC by a two-thirds majority of the participating organizations provided that three months notice of the proposal for the amendment had been given to all participating institutions. An amendment shall come into force unless any objection is received by the FSC Secretary from any participating institution within three months of being adopted.


An institution mandated by a Government or intergovernmental bodyto hold responsibilities for the preparation or publication of fisheries information relevant to the framework of the partnership may become a participating institution of the FSC if it is so decided by a (two-thirds)[20] majority of the participating organizations provided that three months notice of the proposed admission had been given to all participating organizations.


Any participating Institutions may withdraw from the FSC after giving three months' notice to the FSC Secretary who will inform other participating institutions. If a participating institution does not provide any experts for three consecutive sessions without notification, it will be deemed to have withdrawn.

[2] The partnership agreement takes as its principal source the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries concerning agreements, cooperation and developing countries.
[3] The partnership agreement recognizes that many different types of institution may wish to become FIRMS partners because of their mandates to develop or disseminate fisheries information. These may range from regional fishery bodies and international organizations, to government ministries and their research institutions or agencies (including privatized research and academic institutions) or international programmes or projects (with perhaps a limited period, e.g. a GEF programme).
[4] These objectives establish current and future objectives that enable participation by institutions at all levels of will and capacity, i.e. to progressively build institutional linkages and to cover all resources, from the largest to the smallest.
[5] The principles in the agreement establish the general policies under which dissemination, maintenance and metadata developments are to be established, and the full recognition of a direct relationship between a partner’s mandates, the information objects they are reporting on, and the subsequent ownership over these objects contained within FIGIS.
[6] This article summarizes the purposes of this agreement, including the content of Annex 1, which will be decided on an individual basis between FAO and the institution. This allows for flexibility in the nature and scope of the information to be supplied so that an institutional party with limited capacity to provide information at the beginning of the agreement can define what (limited) information it is prepared to contribute. As the term of the agreement progresses the Annex can be developed further: further details may be possible as statistical systems improve and the Annex to the agreement can be amended mutually by the parties. It also explains the benefits of providing and obtaining general access to fisheries information in a coordinated way through the FIRMS. This responds to Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries demands for cooperation and transparency.
[7] The thematic scope of these overviews provides a reference for future Institutional Parties in what sort of information is expected, and hence their potential eligibility for partnership.
[8] This article provides for each party’s responsibilities; FAO in its central role in the partnership as Secretariat and in management of the FIRMS, the institutional party in its contribution of information and influence on the conduct and development of FIRMS and its participation in decision-making processes.
[9] This article establishes FAO’s right to publish information agreed under this agreement, unless otherwise specified, such as in the timing of publication or further appropriate data aggregation. The Institutional Party also has specified rights, particularly to the control of its own information contributions, and access to general and special products that may be developed under FIRMS. It may also give additional entitlements, specified in Annex, and this is designed to offer further facilities (to be defined on an individual basis) for developing countries, as appropriate.
[10] The establishment of the FSC within FAO in pursuit of partnerships will be relatively simple. The FSC will develop its own Rules of Procedure perhaps based on the draft included in Annex 2, which shall be developed at the first FSC meeting (although subject to amendment). The eligibility of new partners is included but this largely means that the new partner shall have the capacity and mandate (from the national authority or commission or board) to provide information.
[11] Those FIRMS services would cover in particular system functionality or customization for the specific use of the Party.
[12] These clauses are simple standards used in these forms of voluntary agreement.
[13] This section is the individual operating conditions of the particular agreement with an institutional party. It may simply consist of reference to a particular report of the party, which contains the relevant information on the resources required for contribution to FIRMS, e.g. the report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management. This reference effectively allows for simple republishing the fisheries monitoring components of such reports into the FIRMS module.
[14] Agreed information to be provided may consist of defined information on species, or fisheries, or other matters, as described in the table, or by using some other general template, which might be specifically designed for each agreement.
[15] This series of clauses can be modified for each Partnership Agreement, for example where information is unavailable or uncertain.
[16] Parties may have particular requirements for confidentiality, including the limits on the timing of publication.
[17] These additional entitlements will also depend on the requirements of the institutional party. These may involve specific analyses and information presentations, or it may involve further assistance, particularly to developing countries in fulfilling this Partnership Agreement. Lastly, it would define the ways in which the additional entitlements would be paid for, including the possibility of donor contributions for the conduct of a partnership.
[18] The source of the finance for the conduct of the agreement may change over time, from donor funding of particular FIRMS service entitlements to full cost recovery by the Secretariat from the requesting Institutional Party.
[19] This draft needs to be discussed and agreed in detail on first convening the FSC. The following is based on the rules of procedure of the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics, an FAO body established under Article VII of the FAO constitution.
[20] This should be in brackets because such a majority needs to be decided on by the original partners of when the FSC comes into being.

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