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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.

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
  • iterative
  • can be predictive
  • largely based on synthesizing existing information rather than collecting new data
  • can be a re-assessment (for a new purpose/client)
  • requires new set of data
  • 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:

1 “Actors” may include clients, beneficiaries and information providers

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:

21. Ongoing assessments should aim to:

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.

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