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Identification of appropriate assessment methods

24. For consideration of Theme Two on the morning of Day Two, participants were divided into three parallel working groups, each of which were assigned the same two major tasks - namely:

25. In order to facilitate group discussion, the Secretariat provided Table 2 as a scope-scale matrix of assessment methods. Cells for which little or nothing could be entered indicate weaknesses or gaps and therefore a lack of appropriateness of the assessment method considered.

26. In reporting back to plenary, working groups pointed out that the matrix provided was difficult to employ because it was only two dimensional and could not accommodate the multi-dimensional requirements for SSF assessments. As a result, of the three groups, one did not complete any matrix, one provided separate matrices for biological assessments and socio-economic assessments (Appendix G) and one suggested that the matrix format be revised.

Table 2. Scope-scale matrix of assessment methods

Scope Narrow Intermediate Broad
- Sector specific- Fisheries & related livelihood- Multisector
Scale - Stock based- Multispecies- Ecosystem
- Community   
- Local administrative unit   
- Province   
- Country   
- Region   

27. While the working groups made progress in identifying an array of possible assessment methods, the second task of screening methods for appropriateness was not completed. However, it was remarked that most of the methods identified were very data intensive and costly, and therefore of limited utility for SSF assessment in developing countries.

28. Plenary discussion reflected on the value of the matrix approach as a means of pursuing Workshop objectives for identifying weaknesses or gaps in methods that needed to be pursued through research. It was felt that the approach had not explicitly provided a clear view of gaps, but had taken the group some way towards understanding the difficulties to be faced.

29. Discussion groups pointed out that some participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tools used for the collection of social data and information have also begun to be used in the biological fields. It was felt that this development should be further explored. Applicability of methods to SSF and Integration.

30. Based on the results of the morning session, participants were requested to discuss in their afternoon working groups the applicability of different “families” of methods to SSF and their technical strengths or weaknesses as well as their potential for integration. Discussion results were tabulated by each group and are consolidated in Table 3.

Table 3. Technical features of assessment methods

Methods Purposes Dimensions Strengths Weaknesses Potential for integration
  • Environmental (E)
  • Human (H)
  • Institutional (I)
Catch and effort analysisStatus and trend of resourcesEHistorical perspectiveData intensiveYes, for economic analysis
Length frequency data analysisStatus and trend of stockE
  • relatively simple
  • user-friendly software
  • only applied at stock level
  • difficult to apply at multi-species level
  • not specifically for SSF
Can be used as input for broader bio-economic analysis
Participatory ID of resource indicatorsStatus and trend of resources   Yes, already in ParFish
Standardized resource surveys
  • trends
  • baseline
  • comparison
  • lots of info allows comparison
ExpensiveYes with economic assessment
Yield per recruit analysis/ analytical methods
  • ID reference points
  • indicators of fishery status
  • integrates information
  • requires short data collection
AssumptionsYes with economics software available
Eco-system modelling (e.g. ECOPATH; & ECOSIM)Understand current status of & interactions within ecosystemE
  • visualizing the system and fisheries trends
  • possible to identify options/scenarios
  • information cumulative
  • difficult to focus on SSF
  • data intensive
  • require well-trained person
Can accommodate ecosystem aspects
Participatory habitat/resource mappingID critical habitats and fishing groundsAllCost effectiveSubject to biasYes with resource surveys and institutional analysis
Cost & earning survey (fishing unit)
  • economics of operation
  • distribution of benefit
  • understanding of technological diversity
  • can focus on different scale incld. SSF
  • repeatable
Time consumingYes - could capture traditional knowledge, fishing activities, species, etc.
Work history method
  • historical trends
  • changes in practice/resource
  • community
  • perceptions
  • social mobility
  • giving voice
  • context understand
  • labour intensive
  • anecdotal
  • needs validation
Yes with resource surveys and institutional analysis
Stakeholder & gender analysis
  • social/power interaction
  • social equitability
  • decision-making influence
H & I
  • participatory
  • implicitly include gender
  • can help to raise awareness
  • based on perceptions
  • subjectiveness
  • can be difficult to identify stakeholders
Yes - could capture other dimensions
Institutional mapping
  • understand society
  • rules concerning resource
  • power relationships
I & HCan initiate process for change
  • if ‘static’ misses real issues
  • needs process
Yes with economic surveys (note business/ management experience; forestry)
Socio-economic survey analysisImprove understanding of livelihood dimensionsH & I
  • can determine poverty dimension
  • holistic & multi-sectoral which fits SSF
Time consuming 
Livelihood analysisImprove understanding of livelihood dimensionsH & I
  • can determine poverty dimension
  • holistic
  • multi-sectoral which fits SSF
Highly qualitative and difficult for comparative analysis 
Socio-cultural surveyImprove understanding of community relationships and identitiesH & I   
Policy analysisUnderstand policy context (agenda setting, implementation, impacts)I
  • can be desk-based
  • can be cross - sectoral
  • can be influential
Difficult to capture informal policyYes - can be expanded to other sectors
Market analysis-    

31. The nesting of analytical and data collection methods together into “families” presented problems. For example, livelihoods analysis was seen by some as a single method, and by others as a complex of several methods.

32. The fact that many methods could be applied at different levels of complexity presented another difficulty. The degree to which a participatory approach was used in applying a particular method, for instance, might influence the extent to which it could be integrated with others.

33. The question of what actually was meant by the term “integration” also proved troublesome. The term can be interpreted as “integration of methods” e.g. blending a biological and an economic method together into one single bio-economic method, using one integrated software. It could also be interpreted as “integration of outputs” e.g. using the two methods mentioned above concurrently but separately, considering jointly their outputs. Some argued that the purpose of integration was simply to improve efficiency of assessment. The general agreement was that the assessment framework has to be “comprehensive”.

34. Further discussion on approaches to integration considered whether it should be used to compress the range of methods and particular indices into a few or even a single dimension. The danger of too much compression was flagged, as it may lead to overdependence on one or a few “integrated” indices to reflect very complex systems. The alternative was to view integration as leading to suites of complementary indicators that together provide a comprehensive picture of the status of the system in question.

35. The Day Two sessions ended with general agreement that there were significant issues associated with integrated assessment of SSF, and that these required in depth attention through the project proposed in the draft Workshop Concept Note.

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