The process of estimating capacity and capacity utilization is not just an academic exercise. The measures derived will provide valuable information relevant to the future management of capacity in the fisheries under consideration. The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing identified overcapacity as a major constraint to sustainability in world fisheries and consequently places significant emphasis on the need to manage capacity. Management of capacity is not possible unless some indication is available of the species affected and the extent to which overcapacity may exist in the different fisheries.
As noted in Section 2, the input and output based measures presented in the guidelines are not equivalent, although they are complementary. Equivalent measures only can be produced under restrictive conditions, which rarely hold, or with explicit information about returns to inputs (including biomass stocks) or to scale. As a result, the measures provide different information to managers and need to be interpreted according to their different perspectives. However, as most fisheries are managed through some form of input control, both approaches are useful for providing sufficient information on the fisheries for the effective management of capacity. When possible, therefore, countries should attempt to undertake computation of all measures outlined above.
The ability of the states to develop reliable indicators of capacity is largely predicated on the existence of reliable data. The Mexico City consultation concluded that Level 3 data (see Appendix A) should be regarded as the desired standard for estimating fishing capacity. Countries with data collection programmes that do not meet these data requirements should develop institutions capable of collecting such data. Although measures exist to estimate capacity with less data, these measures are relatively crude, and hence may provide incorrect measures of capacity. While data collection may be perceived as expensive, efficient data collection systems are likely to be less expensive than the economic losses that could occur as a result of fishery mismanagement.
The Mexico City consultation also concluded that obtaining Level 4 data (see Appendix A) was a desirable long-term objective. The addition of economic information about fisheries allows an estimate of the most cost-effective means of harvesting the resource, and hence provides information on the potential economic losses arising from excess capacity. States that currently collect Level 3 data should therefore consider developing systems to collect Level 4 data.