15. The Secretariat of the Workshop
proposed to structure discussion within working groups around principles of
assessment within three major domains - namely, “resource”, “community” and
“external environment. After an extensive discussion, it was decided instead to
structure the meeting around the following overarching question: “What are the
principles needed to inform an integrated assessment framework for SSF?”
16. Discussion in four separate working
group sessions during the afternoon of Day One was guided by a series of
subsidiary questions raised in plenary, as follows.
- How do we determine the purpose of a
specific assessment? (What is it for? What development or management objectives
- How do we link assessment to a process
of learning, and to the possible phasing of information requirements?
- What are the main factors to consider
in selection of specific assessment methods (noting that the meeting was not
intended to discuss the methods themselves in any depth)?
- What makes assessment of SSF different
from assessment of industrial fisheries?
- What can we learn from other
(non-fishery) small-scale natural resource based assessment activities?
- How can we assess SSF in the broader
human development context?
- How do we ensure links between
assessment and governance?
17. Working groups noted that in
discussing the principles of improved assessments, a clear distinction should
be made between one-off “diagnostic” and recurrent “on-going.” assessments.
Distinctions between these two types are summarised in Table 1.
Table 1.Characteristics of assessment types
|Diagnostic assessment ||Ongoing assessment |
- event based / one-off snapshot of the situation (but may feed into / form basis of on-going assessments)
- should not be predictive
- part of a process
- can be predictive
- largely based on synthesizing existing information rather than collecting new data
- can be a re-assessment (for a new purpose/client)
- helps define issues and options for action (e.g., management/ development interventions, achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)) - and subsequently helps define indicators of achievement
- monitors progress in implementing action
- provides feedback on adjustments of action needed to achieve aims
- an initial, wide-ranging stock-taking to gain a broad understanding.
- must work within recognized limitations (e.g. human and financial resources) and focus on key / prioritized critical issues and assets (within this context, the assessment must be demand-driven and actor-based)
- focuses on pre-defined issues (since scope has already been defined)
- limited scope for adaptive learning (but should not be overlooked)
- information feeds into adaptive learning processes
- may be applied where rapid response is needed (e.g. disasters)
18. It was recognised that some principles
for improved assessment were common to both diagnostic and ongoing types. Both
should aim to:
- provide integrated, balanced,
multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral information on SSF resources,
institutions/governance, and socio-economic and ecological dimensions,
including their externalities and vulnerabilities;
- be realistic in terms of and human and
financial resource limitations;
- be demand-led, actor-driven1
and problem oriented, as determined by assessment objectives;
- be participatory, involving local
stakeholders in order to improve assessment quality and consensus; and
- be transparent in the provision and
analysis of information, and understandable by the full range of stakeholders.
19. In addition to the general principles
listed above, those specific to each type of assessment were also identified.
20. Diagnostic assessments should aim to:
- respond to specific needs in a timely
- take historical context into account;
- set the basis for informed choices by
prioritizing issues and by providing options for different courses of action
with their respective advantages and disadvantages;
- be alert to opportunities that may
arise to initiate longer term learning;
- be aware of (evaluate) uncertainty; and
- be aware of (take account of) bias.
21. Ongoing assessments should aim to:
- serve a specific objective, and
provide a feedback mechanism to monitor implementation progress and allow for
- take account of issues related to the
scale and boundaries of resources, ecosystems, communities and institutions;
- capture historic and current
information and identify future information needs;
- capture inter- and intra-sectoral
information and enable linkages across sectors;
- recognize multiple livelihood
- employ methods that allow for risk
assessment and priority setting.
22. Poverty alleviation, food security and
environmental sustainability are central issues in many developing countries,
and figure among the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The
Workshop recognized that assessments should place emphasis on verifying the
role of SSF in contributing to these goals.
23. It was strongly emphasized that, as
SSF do not exist in isolation from industrial fisheries, nor from related
sectors such as agriculture and tourism, assessment frameworks must be capable
of capturing the wider contexts in which they operate.