Indicators are data or combination of data collected and processed for a clearly defined analytical or policy purpose. That purpose should be explicitly specified and taken into account when interpreting the value of an indicator. Fisheries indicators should provide practical and cost-effective means for the evaluation of the state and the development of fisheries systems and the effects that policy changes have on those systems.
The importance attached to socio-economic information on the fisheries sector has greatly increased for several years. Most bodies ask themselves what information they should be collecting in order to establish indicators which are representative of the sector.
Most effort to date has been on developing indicators related to the ecological sustainability of fishery systems. There is a large and established literature on the use of a wide range of indicators to assess the relative abundance and health of individual fish stocks. This is done through such concepts as target and limit reference points, biomass indexes, fishing mortality and effort measures, and so on. In the meantime, relatively little attention has been paid to the set of potential indicators that could be used to assess the economic and social aspects of fisheries and the interaction with the pursuit of sustainable development objectives. The growing demand for social and economic indicators from policy makers is a result of this perceived imbalance.
Indicators are not an end in themselves. They are a tool to help make clear assessments of and comparisons between fisheries, through time. They describe in simple terms the extent to which the objectives set for sustainable development are being achieved. The main purpose in developing a set of sustainability indicators is to assist in assessing the performance of fisheries policy and management and to stimulate action to better pursue sustainability objectives.
At its eighty-third session on 7-9 April 1999, the OECD Committee for fisheries decided, as a part of its Programme of Work 2000-2002, to conduct a study on Fisheries Sustainability Indicators. The study will seek to develop fisheries social and economic indicators to be used as tools in policy analysis [AGR/FI/M(99)1].
At its eighty-fifth session on 20-22 March 2000, the Committee agreed that: the overall goal for this Study should be to contribute to improvement in the measurement of economic and social dimensions of sustainable development of fisheries, and where possible, relate these to the resource and environmental dimensions.
The Spanish and Italian representatives (among others) have given progress reports on their work on this subject. The document presented by Spain (AGR/FI(2001)12/PART1) is a sub-set of another document presented in the context of the GFCM, mentioned below. This paper includes a general discussion of the use of indicators, the relationship between economic and environmental indicators and the requirements to be fulfilled for indicators to be useful management instruments. Several methodological and data difficulties have arisen during this project.
Italys document, entitled Italian Fisheries: Implementation of a Monitoring System for Techno-Economic Data and the Evaluation of Socio-economic Parameters. Part I - Methodology (AGR/FI(2001)12/PART3) describes the new survey methodology to be used in fisheries data collection in Italy. A second paper is envisaged to present and discuss empirical findings.
The European Commission (Fisheries DG and Eurostat) has been pursuing work and studies to improve knowledge of the sector for several years.
The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) issues useful proposals for managing the Common Fisheries Policy. Annex IV to Council Regulation (EC) No 1543/2000 of 29 June 2000 establishing a Community framework for the collection and management of the data needed to conduct the common fisheries policy, the detailed rules for the application of which are laid down in Commission Regulation N° 1639/2001 of 25 July 2001, also sets out a list of (socio-)economic indicators drawn up by this Committee.
The document entitled STECF needs for socio-economic indicators presents a general set of economic and social fisheries stability indicators. The underlying notion is that to be economically and socially sustainable a fishery must be capable of being exploited profitably at some biologically sustainable level. The purpose of indicators must therefore be to show whether a fishery is currently sustainable, economically, socially, and biologically, and if not whether it is capable of being exploited sustainably at all and if so at what levels of capital, and labour employed and of fish stock.
To support the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the FAO has published a document addressed to all parties concerned by the sustainable development of fisheries. Entitled Indicators for sustainable development of marine capture fisheries this document, is part of the FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries No 8, Rome, FAO, 1999, 68p. These guidelines provide general information on the issue of sustainable development focusing on a system of indicators, called the Sustainable Development Reference System (SDRS).
The definition of sustainable development adopted by FAO can be considered a very general framework for fisheries sustainable development. This definition establishes five main components: the multiple resource in its environment; social and economic human needs; the technology; and the institutions. While the first two must be conserved, the others need to be respectively satisfied, controlled and established through the general management process. The guidelines also provide information on the type of indicators and related reference points needed. However, it is recognized that it is difficult to generalize, and that there is a need to agree on common conventions for the purpose of joint reporting at national, regional and global level, particularly in relation to international fisheries, or transboundary resources.
Taking into consideration the conclusions reached at the meeting of the former Working Party on Fishery Statistics and Economics of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the newly established Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the GFCM invited its Sub-Committee on Social Science to initiate work to set up a database on socio-economic indicators. It recommended to start with a pilot assessment study for a management unit. The Alboran Sea was chosen for the pilot study as it encompasses stocks shared between a developing (Morocco) and a developed (Spain) country, as well as a wide range of fishing operations typical of what can be find elsewhere in the Mediterranean. This would allow elaboration of a socio-economic indicator methodology that would be applicable across each of the GFCM management units and the Mediterranean as a whole.
In 2001, the GFCM published a Feasibility assessment for a database on socio-economic indicators for Mediterranean fisheries (Studies and Reviews No. 71). This represents the outcome of the above pilot study on compiling socio-economic indicators initiated by the GFCMs Subcommittee on Social Sciences (Scientific Advisory Committee).
Based on the same methodology this pilot study is being followed by a study on the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia) fisheries. It is also likely that similar work is going to be organised for the Adriatic Sea fisheries (through the ADRIAMED project).
The Working Group on socio-economic indicators (WGSEI, Salerno 11-13 March 2002) reviewed four studies which have been launched during the intersession. They cover respectively: the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia); the Adriatic Sea; the Tyrrhenian Sea; and the Gulf of Lion (France). In this respect, the WGSEI reiterated the importance of defining Local Operational Units (LOUs: fleet segments/ports) and recommended the formal adoption of this concept. The WGSEI adopted 3 basic social indicators (average age of fishers; length of activity; share in capital structure) and recommended to pursue works toward identifying other basic social indicators at the level of each GFCM geographical area.
In appendix A lists of socio-economic indicators developed by the previous agencies are presented
One important consideration in the development of indicators is selection of the geographical units for which indicators will be reported. These units should reflect the geographic scale of ecological processes that reasonably define ecosystem boundaries (recognising that boundaries are always open for aquatic ecosystems), fishery resources and fishing activity, and political jurisdictions. While commitments have been made for national reporting, units at a regional scale (either within a nation or for shared resources of several nations) will be more appropriate in some cases. It may be useful to have indicators at finer scales (e.g. individual fisheries or sub-national regions).
Moreover, the economic indicators should complement the tools used in biological assessment of resources, to clarify the consequences for society of resource degradation. The decision-makers regulations (on fishing schedules, licenses, taxes, etc.) are usually aimed at specific fleet groups. Therefore, a proper fleet segmentation is essential in the construction of indicators.
Management authority regulations (on fishing schedules, licences, taxes, etc.) are normally binding upon specific fleet groups. That is why a correct fleet segmentation is essential in the construction of the indicators; otherwise they would prove useless. The vessel categories should be flexible enough to cover the whole of the fishing fleet operating in the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, however, they should be precise enough to yield operative (meaningful) answers to the management units. For this reasons the concept of Operating Unit has been developed.
In the Mediterranean Sea context, an important issue was to reach agreement on the number of segments that should be established. The Working Group on socio-economic indicators (WGSEI, Salerno, 11-13 March 2002) reviewed in detail various possible fleet segmentation frames (i.e., from: IREPA; AER; U.E (Regulation No 1639/2001)/EUROSTAT/STEFC), and from the SCESS pilot study on the Alboran Sea). It concluded that these segmentations could be harmonized taking as reference the E.U segmentation. On this basis, the Group elaborated and agreed upon a segmentation to be submitted to SCESS for adoption. This entails 9 segments crossing 3 vessel/LOA groups (see appendix B). It further recognized that more detailed segmentation would need to be identified with regard to the small-scale fleet (< 12 m.).
Indicators need to be underpinned by data. Data availability and costs are major issues in the selection of indicators and their adoption. Data availability and their quality and quantity vary greatly between fisheries and countries.
Much of the data needed for socio-economic indicators are often already being collected by different agencies or ministries. However, the availability of data is uneven across disciplines and countries. More data is available on biological and environmental aspects than on socio-economic ones. Data availability is also uneven between developed and developing countries and it may be necessary to agree on a common minimum set of information to be collected if the objective is to assess progress towards sustainable development at regional or global levels.
The Working Group on socio-economic indicators (WGSEI, Salerno, 11-13 March 2002) reviewed and commented a draft guideline on sampling methodologies for building socio-economic indicators. The Working group also recommended that the draft guidelines be consolidated and finalised, taking into consideration the guideline used by IREPA. The present manual is the final outcome of this process.
This manual is aimed at all decision-makers who may need correct data to build socio-economic indicators. At an international level, the manual can be used to facilitate and simplify reporting under international conventions and agreements on matters relating to the sustainable development of the worlds fisheries. Regional fisheries bodies and stakeholders involved in fisheries decision making, such as the fishing industry, other user groups, certification bodies, local communities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) may also draw upon this manual to assist in meeting societal goals for fisheries.
This manual can be applied to fisheries at many different levels, from individual fisheries and coastal management units to a global level. It aims to encourage consistent usage of statistical methods in data collection. Governments may also wish to adapt the manual to the specific requirements of their national fisheries
Finally, although much care has been taken to integrate in this manual existing knowledge and experience in other sectors in statistical data collection, the experience available from the fishery sector is limited to few Mediterranean countries. As a consequence, these guidelines are intended to be flexible and capable of evolving as experience is gained and constructive suggestions accumulate. The present document is the first version of the manual and will be revised and completed (additional methodological annexes will be included) as required in the future.