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Rational fisheries management and planning requires a comprehensive and thorough understanding of the social, cultural, demographic and economic situation in a particular area. If the design and implementation of fisheries development policies are to create a positive impact and benefit fisherfolk and other coastal communities, the interactions between demographic change and the socio-economic development of fishing communities and between these two processes and the natural environment must be understood and appreciated. This necessitates accurate, timely, relevant and accessible data.

While data on fish production, fish stocks, vessels and gears is regularly collected, the collection of socio-economic and demographic data has been deficient, sporadic and incidental.

Article 10 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries sets out principles and standards for the integration of fisheries into coastal area management. As per Article 10.2.4 of the Code of Conduct:

“States, in accordance with their capacities, should establish or promote the establishment of systems to monitor the coastal environment as part of the coastal management process using physical, chemical, biological, economic and social parameters.”

To elaborate on Article 10.2.4 in greater detail, FAO published Technical guidelines for responsible fisheries no. 3: Integration of fisheries into coastal area management. On page 13 (Box 5) of the Technical Guidelines, the economic and social parameters mentioned in the Code of Conduct are specified as “population density, employment and unemployment, income levels, regional GDP, barriers to entry and exit of main occupations, resource allocation systems, occurrence of social conflict, levels of subsidy in different sectors.”

The parameters listed in the Technical Guidelines are, however, still too general to guide the actual collection of data and information at country level.

Recognizing the need to take the Technical Guidelines one step further, this document presents practical guidelines on the collection of demographic and socio-economic information on fishing communities, and identifies empirically verifiable indicators that can be used for the identification of socio-economic and demographic issues, problems and opportunities in coastal and aquatic resources management. The indicators can further be used for monitoring the impact of management measures on the socioeconomic well-being of coastal communities. These guidelines also attempt to identify data sources and methods for data collection.

To be pragmatic, the guidelines use the example of a particular country - the Philippines. Despite the specific reference to the Philippines, the guidelines presented in this technical paper are relevant and applicable to other Southeast Asian and South Asian countries.

This technical paper draws on the results and findings of a regional project executed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and funded by the United Nations Population Fund titled Strengthening of Research and Training on Population and Development Dynamics of Rural Fishing Communities. Implemented from 1995 to 1999 in six countries[1] in Asia and Africa, the regional project aimed at answering the need to create awareness and increase knowledge of population and demographic issues in coastal fishing communities among the various stakeholders (i.e. fishery policy makers, research institutions, government fisheries development agencies, non-government organizations, fisherfolk associations and concerned local government bodies). The objective was to enhance the capacity of the stakeholders to integrate population and demographic concerns into research and educational programmes as well as into community-based fisheries management and integrated coastal area management programmes.

More specifically, macro- and micro-level surveys were carried out to improve the understanding of the socio-demographic characteristics of fisherfolk, their perception of and relationship to population factors, the level of exploitation of fisheries resources and the state of the coastal environment. Findings of the project were published in FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 403 and in FAO Fisheries Report Nos. 566 and 599.

For the Philippines, the project had two outcomes: (1) conduct of a national level study on demographic change and a comparative analysis between two fishing communities and one farming community in Miag-ao, Iloilo Province; and (2) development of curriculum elements/training materials for use in training programmes and in the Master of Marine Affairs Programme of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV).[2]

The guidelines contained in this document and case studies from Southeast and South Asian countries were presented and discussed in the Regional Workshop on the Use of Demographic Data in Fisheries and Coastal Development and Management in the Philippines and other Southeast and South Asian Countries held at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, Miag-ao, Iloilo, Philippines from 18 to 21 March 2002.

The regional workshop was attended by local experts from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, the University of San Carlos, Bicol University, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Commission on Population, local government units and other agencies involved in the development and management of coastal resources in the Philippines. Foreign participation included experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, resource persons from other Southeast and South Asian countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and Sri Lanka, and observers from international multilateral and bilateral development agencies.

Part 2 of this technical paper contains a summary of the workshop’s proceedings and recommendations as well as selected papers from the workshop.

Part 3 contains two case studies from developed countries - Italy and the United States of America, on the use of demographic data in coastal management.

[1] Representing four subregions in Asia and Africa, the six participating countries were the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Senegal.
[2] The College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) was the participating institution for the Philippines and served as the focal point for the conduct of the research.

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