Post-harvest fish loss assessment in small-scale fisheries: A guide for the extension officer

FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 559

Post-harvest fish loss assessment in small-scale fisheries
A guide for the extension officer

Yvette Diei-Ouadi
Fishery Industry Officer
Products, Trade and Marketing Service
Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Rome, Italy


Yahya I. Mgawe
Head of Fisheries Research and Training section
Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development
Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome 2011


Diei-Ouadi, Y.; Mgawe, Y. I.
Post-harvest fish loss assessment in small-scale fisheries: A guide for the extension officer.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 559. Rome, FAO. 2011. 93p.

The field activities within the regional post-harvest loss assessment programme in small-scale fisheries in Africa (an FAO regular programme conducted from 2006 to 2008) tested and validated three key fish loss assessment methodologies that have been developed over the past two decades: the Informal Fish Loss Assessment Method (IFLAM), Load Tracking (LT) and the Questionnaire Loss Assessment Method (QLAM).

This manual describes these three methods in detail and provides practical guidelines on when they can be used and on how to use them to collect reliable data, be it for planning for an intervention to reduce losses in a particular area or at the country level or monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of a loss reduction intervention. While the IFLAM is used to generate qualitative and indicative quantitative post-harvest fish loss data that can be used to inform decision-making or to plan the use of LT and the QLAM, the latter are quantitative assessment methods. Load Tracking is used to quantify losses at stages along the distribution chain or losses related to specific activities, such as fishing, transport, processing and marketing. Key data related to the cause and effects of losses from an IFLAM study are validated using the QLAM before any suitable intervention is introduced. A combination of the IFLAM, LT and QLAM could then be used to monitor and evaluate the effects of an intervention. Illustrative examples and case studies are presented to facilitate the uptake and use of the methods in systematic fish loss assessment.

This fieldwork tool also enlightens the extension officer on how to communicate the data from the assessments and the design of loss reduction interventions to help policy-planners and decision-makers understand important issues facing fishing communities.

It is hoped that this manual will be of interest to all those involved in fisheries technology and development, field research, data analysis and reporting as well as participatory approaches to development.


Preparation of this document
Acronyms and abbreviations

1. Introduction

2. What are post-harvest fish losses?


What does "post-harvest fish loss" mean?


Main types of losses covered in this manual


Summary of causes of different PHFLs

3. Planning for the process of PHFLA


Which loss assessment methods to use?


Planning for PHFLA

4. PHFLA using the IFLAM




Suggested IFLAM schedule


Practical process of the IFLAM

5. PHFLA using load tracking


Objective for load tracking


Unit of measurement or experimental unit








Load tracking data analysis


Case studies



6. PHFLA and validation using the QLAM




Locations for using the QLAM








Pilot testing


Data analysis and reporting

7. Report writing and communication

8. Planning implementation and monitoring of loss-reduction interventions

Sources of further information



PHFLA Working Group members


Fish loss assessment report: structure and content


Load Tracking (LT) and Questionnaire Loss Assessment Method (QLAM) report: structure

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