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1. Introduction


Fisheries, particularly the small-scale type characterized by the use of low technology fishing gear over a limited range, are fundamentally important in many regions of the developing world, providing important sources of protein and livelihoods for coastal and rural communities.

The management of these fisheries has been undergoing a paradigm shift during the last two decades moving away from situations of laissez-faire management, revenue orientated access systems, or focus on maximizing resource and economic output using rules or regulations selected on the basis of quantitative (single-species) bio-economic model-based predictions, set and enforced by a centralized (government) administrative authority, towards more decentralized, collaborative and participatory approaches to sustainable management and development. This shift towards co-management comes as policy makers increasingly recognize that the underlying failures associated with the earlier approaches have often social, economic and institutional, rather than technical, origins. Moreover, the very diverse nature of many small-scale fisheries frequently characterized by multispecies assemblages exploited seasonally by dispersed resources users employing numerous different gear types, often makes the application of conventional “top-down” management approaches and models both inappropriate and unrealistic.

The use of data and information remains fundamental to the co-management process despite this change in emphasis, but now data collection systems or programmes must be designed to support the diverse needs of a range of potential stakeholders, tailored according to their objectives, capacity and available resources.

Significant demand for advice and guidelines for designing and implementing data collection systems to support the co-management of fisheries resources was recently highlighted as part of DFID Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP) development activities (see MRAG, 2002). This review identified a number of key elements for consideration including identification of key information requirements for co-management, and evaluation of alternative cost-effective mechanisms for collecting data such as participatory modes.

This demand is further reflected in several ongoing or planned projects, programmes and associated activities with a focus on improving data and information for co-management such as the DFID-funded Fourth Fisheries Project (FFP), the Regional Fisheries Information System (RFIS) Programme for the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Integrated Lakes Management (ILM) Project in Uganda. The FAO and Mekong River Commission (MRC) are also in the process of developing programmes to strengthen fisheries information systems in the Lower Mekong Basin with the aim of elucidating the role of inland fisheries in national economies and rural livelihoods of the poor. These programmes are intended to provide models for future work on improving fisheries statistics in other countries advocating co-management policies. The MRC is also working with communities and Department of Fisheries (DoFs) staff at more than 20 project sites to establish information requirements and feedback systems to support evolving co-management arrangements in the region. Similar activities are being planned under the WorldFish Centre's ongoing “Fisheries Co-Management Research Project” (FCMRP), which is working closely with local communities at sites in Bangladesh and Cambodia where participatory data collection systems are being piloted.

The 2003 FAO Strategy for Improving Information on Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries (FAO Strategy-STF) was adopted by FAO Members and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2003. The Strategy-STF is a voluntary instrument that applies to all States and entities. Its overall objective is to provide a framework, strategy and plan for the improvement of knowledge and understanding of fishery status and trends as a basis for fisheries policy-making and management for the conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources within ecosystems. It specifies required actions under nine major areas, with a primary emphasis on the need for capacity building in developing countries. Other required action areas relevant to co-management include data collection systems specifically for small-scale fisheries and multispecies fisheries, expanding the scope of information on status and trends of fisheries (including ecosystem considerations for management), criteria for ensuring information quality and arrangements for the provision and exchange of information. In 2004 FAO launched a project within the FishCode Programme to support implementation of the Strategy-STF.

Whilst a vast pool of literature already exists that can help guide co-managers design and implement data collection programmes to support co-management, much of it has been written in the context of other sectors or with little emphasis on designing systems specifically for co-managed fisheries.


The Guidelines, presented in two parts, attempt to draw together relevant elements of this pool of literature, as well as the experiences and expressed needs of co-managers currently designing or preparing to design their own data collection systems.

The accompanying Part 1: Practical guide has been written specifically for co-managers and facilitators (intermediaries) working in the field such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international aid agencies, extension and development projects and research institutions that often have skills in training, extension, communication and research to assist both government and local stakeholders with their responsibilities for fisheries management and facilitate communication between them. They offer simple and practical advice on helping stakeholders identify their information needs in relation to their management objectives and responsibilities, and develop collaborative ways of collecting and sharing the information in the most effective way.

These Part 2: Technical guidelines provide more technical detail on each of the sections in the Practical guide, including: examples of the types of data that might be of interest to different stakeholders; data collection methods and sources; and, the design of sampling programmes and some guidance on data analysis and interpretation. They have been written primarily for relevant government departments typically the Department of Fisheries (DoF), their administrative sub-divisions or levels, and associated research institutions operating at the district, provincial, national and regional levels. These Technical guidelines will also offer field practitioners an additional resource that can be referenced when necessary.

Together, they draw together relevant elements of the literature, the output of previous DFID-funded research, as well as the experiences and expressed needs of co-managers currently designing or preparing to design their own data collection systems. The Guidelines are, however, intended to complement, rather than replace, existing relevant manuals and guides already published in this and other FAO publication series including Caddy and Bazigos (1985); FAO (1999); Sparre (2000), and Stamatopolous (2002; 2004). We therefore recommend that these and other documents referred to in the following sections be read in conjunction with these guidelines. To minimize the duplication of material and to keep the guidelines as brief as possible, links to Web sites where relevant literature and resources can be accessed or downloaded, are provided throughout the manual.

It is hoped that these Guidelines will promote the participatory design of data collection and sharing systems that will help local stakeholders to make informed and empowered choices and decisions concerning the co-management of their resources to improve their livelihoods. Systems developed on the basis of these guidelines are also expected to meet the information needs of government required to evaluate policy and development plans, meet reporting responsibilities and obligations and help support and coordinate local management activities.

It is hoped that the Guidelines will also help re-emphasize many of the core principles, concepts and approaches described in the earlier manuals and guides described above as a means to help managers improve the general quality of statistics collected from small-scale fisheries whether they are co-managed or not, particularly those inland in regions such as South East Asia1 - one of DFID's most important geographic targets.

While much of the material used to generate these guidelines was compiled on the basis of literature and the experiences of co-managers in South and South-East Asia and East Africa, we believe that the guidelines will be applicable to co-managed small-scale fisheries globally.


Following this section, these Part 2: Technical guidelines are structured around four other main sections and three annexes to answer four key questions: who needs data collection systems, and why (i.e. for what purposes), what data need to be collected to generate this information and how might you design a data collection system that meets the needs of relevant stakeholders (Figure 1).

Section 2 describes the co-management process and key stakeholders that might be involved, and identifies four basic categories of information required to support important information-dependent management roles that the key stakeholders might typically take responsibility for under co-management arrangements. Important information pathways to facilitate the delivery and sharing of data and information to support these management roles and information requirements are also illustrated. In effect, Sections 1 and 2 therefore aim to answer the who and why questions.

What data are required to generate these four categories of information is the subject of Section 3. The section begins with an explanation of some basic terms, concepts and ideas concerning information, indicators, data types and variable and decision-making processes. Four sub-sections then follow, providing examples of data types and variables that might be selected by co-managers corresponding to the four main categories of information identified in Section 2. Important factors to consider when selecting these data variables are also explained.

Section 4 begins to address the question of how to design a data collection system by first providing a brief overview of the types of data sources and collection methodologies that might typically be available or applicable. Important concepts including participatory monitoring and evaluation, sampling and stratification are explained and important factors to consider when selecting sources and methods described. Summary tables provide guidance on what sources and methods might be appropriate for each data type of interest.

Finally, Section 5 describes an eight-stage participatory design process that cross-references the material presented in chapters 1 to 4 and aims to answer the remaining elements of the how question. Guidelines, advice, tips and sources further information are provided to guide the process involving stakeholder analysis, local management plan formulation, identification of common stakeholder data needs and shortfalls, data collection and sharing strategy design, the development of information networks, the design of data recoding and management systems, and finally implementation and refinement.

We stress that these guidelines are not prescriptive but rather offer a “toolbox” of options from which readers may wish to pick and choose according to their requirements and local context. The Guidelines are not a compendium of data collection methods. Some guidance on analytical procedures to evaluate management performance is provided but readers are advised to refer to relevant biostatistical analysis and FAO stock assessment manuals for this purpose including Sparre and Venema (1992) and Hoggarth et al. (2005).

The structure of the guidelines


1 See Coates (2002) for a review of the status of inland fishery statistics in this region.

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