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PART 3
Highlights of special FAO

Over the past two years, inland fisheries resources and the state of the world's fishers and fishing vessels have been studied closely by the FAO Fisheries Department. Highlights from the analyses and assessments carried out are presented in the following two sections.

INLAND FISHERIES RESOURCES: THEIR STATUS AND USE1

THE STATE OF INLAND FISHERIES RESOURCES

Our knowledge of the state of inland fisheries resources is poor. The main reasons for this are the large number, dispersion, variety and dynamic nature of inland water bodies and the diversity of their aquatic fauna. These characteristics mean that the collection of data is costly. Some 11 500 fish species (41 percent of all fish) are exclusively freshwater and about 300 (1 percent) are diadromous. To a large extent, therefore, existing knowledge about resources is based on inferences derived from studies of inland water systems and from the monitoring, where possible, of effort and yields in inland fisheries.

Inland water systems: type and magnitude

Fish and other aquatic resources are captured from a great variety of inland systems, including perennial lakes,2 which have a combined surface area of about 1.7 million km2, nearly 1 million km2 of which are accounted for by large lakes (>100 km2). North America possesses by far the greatest large lake surface. Swamps, marshes and other wetlands throughout the world amount to about 4 million km2, of which the CIS and the Baltic states claim the greatest portion.

The world's main channel river lengths amount to about 269 000 km. The highest density of rivers occurs in South America, the lowest in Oceania (Figure 20).

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Fished artificial water bodies range from large hydroelectric reservoirs to multipurpose community and family ponds, irrigation canals, rice-fields, borrow pits and even roadside ditches.

Large reservoirs (>15 m dam height) generally date from after the Second World War. Most are in China, and nearly 65 percent of the global total by number are located in Asia (Figure 20). In all, there are 60 000 such reservoirs in the world, totalling 400 000 km2 in water surface and about 6 500 km3 in volume.3 The construction of large dams in the United States peaked in the 1950s and 1960s,4 while in Africa, where the reservoirs are comparatively smaller, the peak was reached during the 1970s.5 The trend today is towards smaller reservoirs. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that reservoir storage has attained about seven times the standing stock of water contained in rivers.6

In addition to the larger, better-known systems, there are millions of small multipurpose water bodies around the globe that are not always accounted for. Such systems could make a greater contribution to food production if they were managed appropriately and in a way that is compatible with their other uses.

Inland water systems: the aquatic environment

The state of inland fisheries resources is very much reflected by the state of the terrestrial environment in general and by that of the aquatic environment in particular. There are two major influences: climatic cycles and human-induced changes.

Climatic cycles, expressed as variations in rainfall, affect inland fisheries resources by providing more or less living space, more or fewer nutrients via inundation and rainfall runoff and higher or lower vulnerability to fishing as a result of concentration and dispersal. For example, about 57 percent of the large inland water body surface in Africa consists of systems that have quite widely varying surface areas, both seasonally and interannually. In these systems, the availability of fishery resources for exploitation varies greatly and the impact on food supply may be very serious in times of drought or when especially high rainfalls cause extensive flooding.

Similarly, climatic cycles expressed as variations in temperature also affect inland resources. For example, temperature can be a lethal factor. At sublethal ranges, it controls metabolic rates. It affects not only the growth rate of fish but also their behaviour. Temperature changes also trigger fish movements and fish reproduction.

These climatic effects manifest themselves in the amount of fish available for capture. Therefore, long-term climatic changes, such as those brought on by global warming, are a concern for the future of inland fisheries resources.

Human-induced changes to inland resources are manifold. In fact, the greatest threat to the sustainability of inland fisheries resources is not overexploitation, but degradation of the environment. As mentioned earlier (see State of inland fish resources), the global situation regarding inland aquatic resources is not encouraging, mainly owing to land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, the scarcity and pollution of freshwater and hence the degradation and loss of habitats. Another measure of the state of the inland aquatic environment has been provided by the analysis of the stress exerted in 145 large watersheds around the world. Their combined land surface area accounts for 55 percent of the total land surface, not including Antarctica.7 Stresses were found to be especially severe in watersheds that were already substantially modified or degraded. In particular, China, India and Southeast Asia stood out as areas where pressures on watersheds are intensifying. This is a cause of concern, as they are the world's most important areas for inland fish production. Other major watersheds such as the Amazon and the Congo are less degraded. Nonetheless, these are also beginning to experience rapid change.

A worldwide study has been carried out on river basins that support a high level of aquatic biodiversity. The study concluded that 30 of the basins should be managed very carefully because they have a rich diversity of fish species but are highly vulnerable to future pressures.8 Of these river basins, 39 percent (by total area) are in Africa, 35 percent in Asia and 26 percent in Latin America.

Human-induced changes are also reflected in the composition of the inland fish fauna. In fact, introduced species are relatively important in the capture of freshwater fish. For example, Nile tilapia and other tilapias are important in Asia, Latin America and Oceania. In Europe, Latin America and North America, common carp is important. According to the FAO Database on Introductions of Aquatic Species,9 common carp, rainbow trout, Mozambique tilapia, grass carp and Nile tilapia are the most frequently recorded introductions. In the recreational sector, on average, non-native sport fish provided 38 percent of recreational fishery use in the United States.10

In conclusion, it is apparent that most freshwater fish faunas of the world are in serious decline and in need of immediate protection. Among the heavily fished faunas, fish losses appear to be highest in: i) industralized countries; ii) in regions with arid or Mediterranean climates; iii) in tropical regions with large human populations; and iv) in big rivers.11

EXPLOITATION OF INLAND FISHERIES RESOURCES

Inland fisheries resources are exploited for food and other products - mostly by fishers earning a living from their activity - and for pleasure by recreational fishers.

Recreational fisheries

The use made of fishery resources by recreational fishers is underreported. Of almost 200 countries and territories approached by FAO, only 30 responded with recreational capture estimates. These amounted to 476 500 tonnes in 1990.12 Total recreational catch, however, may be in the order of 2 million tonnes.13 Two examples reported more recently indicate the importance of recreational fisheries:

Recreational fisheries are not confined only to developed countries. In fact, the promotion of recreational fishing as a national and international income-generating activity is being contemplated or is already practised in many developing countries, among them Brazil, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.

Fisheries for food

In 1996, recorded landings16 - mostly commercial or artisanal - of inland fisheries resources amounted to 7.6 million tonnes, equal to 7.8 percent of total capture. Landings consisted mainly of finfish, although molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic reptiles may be locally important (see Inland capture fisheries production).

The contribution of inland fisheries resources to food production is certainly greater than that reported because of the dispersed and informal nature of many fisheries. For example, official Brazilian inland capture fisheries statistics in 1991 reported a production volume of 193 000 tonnes from all of the country's waters. However, an independent study commissioned by FAO for the same year suggests a production figure of about 319 000 tonnes for the Amazon Basin portion of Brazil alone.17 Similar results have been found for Paraguay. These studies confirm already published FAO estimates that, for the world as a whole, actual harvests of inland fisheries resources may be at least twice those reported to FAO.18

In contrast to marine fisheries, in which substantial fisheries are pursued exclusively for the purpose of providing raw material for animal feeds, inland fishers - whether artisanal or commercial - target food fish. There are very few discards, as fishing gears are generally stationary and more selective than those used in marine fisheries and virtually all the catch is for direct human consumption. This is often - but not always - facilitated by short distances between the place of capture and the consumer. Thus, disregarding the obvious underreporting for inland fisheries, inland capture fisheries in 1996 accounted for nearly 12 percent of the fish provided by all capture fisheries for direct human consumption.

Species groups and capture by country

Species naturally vary with the region of production. The section Inland capture fisheries production lists the dominant species produced in Africa, Asia, Europe, the CIS and the Baltic states, Latin America and North America. As is also mentioned in that section, six of the top ten producer countries are in Asia, together accounting for about 62 percent of world inland capture (Figure 21).

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THE FUTURE USE OF INLAND FISHERIES RESOURCES

Trends in use

Based on total inland capture for the period 1984-1996, it is clear that increasing use is being made of inland fisheries resources. The average annual increase is about 130 000 tonnes (about 2 percent per annum).

Asia is by far the most important continent for inland capture fisheries (Figure 22), and it is here that the largest increase in inland resource use has been occurring. Since 1992, an average growth rate of more than 8 percent per annum has been recorded. In Africa, the second most important region, the overall trend is for a very slight annual increase.

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In contrast, inland capture is decreasing in the CIS and the Baltic states and in North America. In the first group of countries, this decline is due to overexploitation (e.g. of Caspian Sea sturgeon) and loss of habitat (e.g. in the Aral Sea) and is also linked with the region's political and economic changes that call for new approaches to resource management. In North America, the declining trend may be indicative of the continued displacement of commercial fisheries by recreational fishing. The recent trend for Europe is for an increase, while South America and Oceania have been fairly stable over the long term.

An FAO study19 was undertaken recently to characterize inland fishery enhancements by type and species in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America. Preliminary results of the study suggest that stocking and introductions are by far the most important enhancements being employed and that the most frequent objective is to produce food and income. Although incomplete, data submitted to FAO show that, over the period 1984-1995, the highest numbers of world stocks were for coregonids, salmonids and the common carp.

Extent and intensity of use

The shares of inland capture production by continent do not relate closely to the relative amounts of land and water present in the same continents (Figure 8). For example, Asia produces nearly 65 percent of inland capture but has only a 20 percent share of the total continental area; a 23 percent share of swamps, marshes and other wetlands; a 7 percent share of lake area; and an intermediate index of river density. However, it does have a relatively large number of reservoirs (Figure 20).

A variety of factors are responsible for Asia's disproportionate share of inland capture; however, much is due to the heavy exploitation of virtually all the available water surface and the widespread use of fishery enhancements, mainly stocking, to increase food fishery yields. A large part of the water surface in North America and the CIS and the Baltic states is in cooler regions. Furthermore, in contrast to Asia, inland fisheries resources in much of North America and Europe are managed to produce game fish, not food fish. Other differences can be explained by cultural attitudes towards inland fish. For example, in South America only a relatively few species of large-sized inland fish are appreciated on urban markets.

Trends in inland fisheries management

There are a number of clear trends that will affect the exploitation of inland fisheries resources in the medium term, including the following:

FISHERS AND FISHING FLEETS20

EMPLOYMENT IN THE FISHING AND AQUACULTURE INDUSTRIES

During the past three decades at least, employment in fishing and aquaculture worldwide has grown faster than employment in agriculture. At the same time, the share of agriculture in employment is generally declining: in terms of their share in the economically active population, those employed in agriculture accounted for 67 percent in 1950, 56 percent in 1970 and 49 percent in 1990.21 However, employment in fishing and aquaculture has accounted for an increasing share of the employment in the agricultural sector22 as a whole. In 1970, fishing and aquaculture accounted for 1.5 percent of those employed in the agricultural sector. In 1990, the 28.6 million people who found employment in capture fisheries and aquaculture accounted for about 2.3 percent of all of those earning a living in the agricultural sector.

In many parts of the world, fishing is a seasonal or part-time occupation, peaking in the months of the year when coastal and offshore resources are more abundant or available, but leaving time for other activities in seasonal lows. For this reason, when reporting on employment in the fishing industry, FAO distinguishes between full-time and part-time fishers. 23

In the 20 years from 1970 to 1990, the number of full-time fishers and aquaculturists grew faster than the world's population, and the number of part-time fishers grew even faster (Table 5). As a result, numbering 11.8 million, full-time fishers accounted for 41 percent of all fishers in 1990, down from 51 percent in 1970.

TABLE 5
Number of fishers and aquaculturists in the world

Category of fisher/aquaculturist

1970

1980

1990

 

(thousands)

Full-time fishers

6 108

7 988

11 896

Index

100

131

195

Part-time fishers

3 659

4 784

9 708

Index

100

131

268

Other fishers1

2 639

3 792

6 977

Index

100

143

264

Total

12 406

16 564

28 511

Index

100

134

230

1 Occasional fishers and aquaculturists as well as fishers whose occupation has not been further specified.

It is worth noting that, for all categories of fishers, the increase in numbers was much more rapid during the 1980s than during the 1970s. The reasons for this are not clear. In part, it may simply reflect a view that the oceans were one of the few natural resources that had not yet been fully exploited as a source of food and employment. Therefore, a prime concern in many parts of the world at the time was increased production, not the control of existing fishing capacity. Although the employment data for the period 1990-1995 are incomplete, the data that are available indicate a slower increase in the numbers of fishers. FAO estimates the number of fishers and aquaculturists in 1997 to have been about 30 million.

Closely reflecting the distribution pattern of the world's population, 84 percent of fishers and aquaculturists in 1990 were active in Asia (Figure 23), and the vast majority of them in China. However, India, Indonesia and Viet Nam also reported more than 1 million full-time fishers in 1990.24

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While the number of people employed in fishing and aquaculture has been growing steadily in most low- and middle-income countries, in industrialized economies the numbers of fishers have been declining or are stationary. In Japan and Norway the numbers of fishers were halved between 1970 and 1990.

Although employment cannot be taken as the sole indication of the importance of fisheries to the national economy, it is noteworthy that, in 1990, fishers represented more than 5 percent of the economically active population in the agricultural sector of 38 countries, in 15 of which the percentage was above 10 percent.

Between 1970 and 1990, the number of fishers expanded faster in Asia than anywhere else. In 1970, Asian fishers accounted for 77 percent of the world total; in 1990 they accounted for 83 percent. During the same period in Africa, where artisanal fisheries still dominate, the number of fishers also grew but at a slower rate than in Asia. African fisheries accounted for some 6.5 percent of the world total in 1990. South American fishers accounted for about 3 percent of the world total throughout the period whereas, in Europe, there were more fishers in 1970 than in 1990. In the last year they accounted for only 1.4 percent of the world total. However, the number of European fishers increased in absolute terms between 1980 and 1990 owing to the emerging aquaculture industry. In Oceania, the numbers of commercial fishers are considerably fewer than 1 percent of the world total. On the other hand in the smaller islands they often account for a significant part of the economically active population.

It is also worth noting that the number of part-time fishers has grown more rapidly than the number of full-time fishers for the world as a whole: in 1990, for every ten full-time fishers, there were nine part-time fishers. Twenty years earlier, the relationship had been six part-time to ten full-time fishers.

However, this is largely an Asian phenomenon. For the rest of the world, the increase in part-time fishers between 1970 and 1990 was relatively small. The data for Asia support the view that fisheries may indeed have been an occupation of last resort during this period.

The rapid increase in the number of fishers in Asia, together with the growing proportion of part-time workers, also explains to some extent why the average productivity per fisher (all categories) in terms of total production volume declined from just above 2 tonnes per year in 1970 to less than 2 tonnes in 1990 (Table 6).

TABLE 6
Average fish production per person employed in fisheries and aquaculture

Continent

1970

1980

1990

 

(tonnes per year)

Africa

2.71

2.72

2.76

Asia

2.23

2.28

1.90

North America

11.59

12.69

11.35

Latin America

28.47

15.19

18.40

Europe

26.61

33.59

29.35

Oceania

4.42

1.86

5.20

Global total

4.97

4.36

3.47

It would seem that the global economic growth during the 1970s and the 1980s did not result in the increased productivity of those employed in fisheries and aquaculture. Average physical productivity declined from nearly 5 tonnes per caput per year in 1970 to about 3.5 tonnes in 1990. This relatively large fluctuation is mainly explained by the decline in the average productivity per fisher and aquaculturist in Asia. However, the situation in Asia is complex. The downward trend there is a result of diminishing yields for capture fishers, the growing share of part-time fishers and an expansion of aquaculture production and employment. The diminution for the rest of the world, which has been less pronounced, is largely the result of a drastic drop in the availability and catch of small pelagic species, and hence it affects a relatively small number of fishers.

Among countries in Asia, there are of course wide variations in fishery labour productivity, partly as a consequence of differences in the amount of capital available to each fisher. There are highly industrialized and often capital-intensive fisheries in the region, particularly in Japan and the Republic of Korea, resulting in a high tonnage per person employed. There are also fisheries that produce less than 1 tonne per fisher per year.

Among the continents, Europe shows the highest productivity, recording a higher rate than Japan in volume terms. However, there are also noticeable differences across Europe. For instance, in 1995 each of Iceland's 5 000 fishers produced an average of 280 tonnes of fish, whereas an annual rate of 6 tonnes or less per fisher is true for the fishers of all Mediterranean countries other than France and Italy.25 Part of this difference is explained by the importance of high-volume, low-value fisheries for small pelagics that provide raw material for fishmeal industries in Iceland.

THE WORLD FISHING FLEET

In 1995 the world fishing fleet numbered about 3.8 million vessels. About one-third of these were decked26 vessels, the remaining two-thirds were undecked vessels, generally less than 10 m in length. While almost all decked vessels are motorized, only about one undecked vessel in three is equipped with an engine.

Most of the world's fishing vessels are operating in Asia. The proportion of non-motorized vessels is higher in Africa (about 80 percent) than in any other continent, while Europe has the highest proportion of decked vessels (about 70 percent in 1995). In the Asian fleet, slightly fewer than 40 percent are reported to be decked vessels.

The average size of decked vessels in 1995 was about 20 GT. Those larger than 100 GT (or longer than 24 m) amounted to about 37 000 or just about 1 percent of the world fishing fleet. China has approximately 40 percent (15 000) of these vessels, while no other country has more than 10 percent of this fleet and about 20 countries together account for 50 percent of the total.

The world fleet is not likely to have grown as fast as the number of fishers (Figure 24), although this cannot be established with certainty because the various employment categories used for reporting statistics include both capture fishers and aquaculturists. Nevertheless, there has been an upgrading of the fleet inasmuch as the proportion of decked vessels increased from about one in four in 1970 to about one in three in 1990.

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Undecked fishing vessels

The number of undecked vessels increased in the 1980s, mainly as a result of higher numbers in Asia. However, this increase was followed by a levelling off (Figure 25) during the first part of the 1990s.

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The vast majority of undecked fishing craft in Asia and Africa are not powered by engines (Figure 26). Given that decked craft are relatively few in Africa, the typical African fishing vessel is undecked and non-motorized. In Asia, the typical vessel is different, as the proportion of decked fishing craft is comparatively high.

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Decked fishing vessels

Following two decades of rapid growth, particularly in Asia (Figure 15), growth in the number of decked fishing vessels has been slow since 1990. In fact, had it not been for the increase in the fleet of decked fishing vessels in China (Figure 16), the number of decked fishing vessels in the world fleet would have remained stable between 1980 and 1995.

Instead, there is some evidence of an increase in terms of average tonnage of vessels since 1990 (Figure 27), although it is not certain whether this increase is real. It may be the result of reporting vessel size in GT instead of GRT. This change in the system of measuring vessel size inflates the tonnage estimate, as the resulting numeric estimate of size almost invariably is higher when stated in GT. Therefore, the increase in tonnage of the fleet resulting from this reclassifiction of vessels does not necessarily reflect an increase in the fishing capacity of the same fleet (see Box 3).

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In line with the Chinese policy to develop offshore and distant-water fisheries, the average tonnage of decked Chinese vessels has increased. In fact, the proportion of Chinese vessels of more than 24 m in length increased from about 1.5 percent in the late 1980s to about 3 percent in 1996, which is three times the world average. China's fishing fleet, totalling about 6 million GT (in 1996), is now by far the largest in the world. It is followed by the fleet of the Russian Federation, with a tonnage of about 3 million GT.

Gillnetters and vessels fishing with lines account for a considerable proportion of the world fleet of decked vessels (Figure 28). Trawlers tend to be larger and more powerful vessels and they dominate in terms of tonnage, accounting for about 40 percent of the GT of the fleet (Figure 29).

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DECKED FISHING VESSELS ABOVE 100 GRT

The global fleet

Vessels of 100 GRT or more are approximately equivalent to vessels of 24 m or more in length. They are generally capable of fishing on the high seas but it is estimated that at least half of this fleet never does so. Detailed information on individual vessels in this category is maintained by Lloyd's Maritime Information Services (LMIS), which obtains data under exclusive licence from Lloyd's Register of Shipping.

In 1997, fishing vessels in Lloyd's Register of Shipping numbered 22 668. However, LMIS databases contain virtually no information on vessels registered in China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or Taiwan Province of China. For the remaining countries, they record about 80 percent of the number of vessels reported to FAO by member countries.

Mainland China reported 15 000 vessels in this category in 1996. Thus, the fishing vessels in this category are likely to have numbered between 43 000 and 45 000 in 1997.

The fleet reported in Lloyd's Register

Eight states had 500 or more fishing vessels constituting 65 percent of the fleet. The remaining 35 percent of the fleet was shared by 164 other flag states (Figure 30) in 1997. More than half were trawlers of various types, about 10 percent were seiners and the rest were line and trap fishing vessels (Figure 31).

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The conventional wisdom is that the average tonnage and horsepower (HP) of the world fleet of large vessels are increasing. However, an analysis of the fleet of vessels above 100 tons by their date of construction does not support this hypothesis (Figures 32 and 33). In fact, the average tonnage of vessels built during the last three years has been below the 30-year average (621 GRT). In terms of horsepower, the last three-year average is 1 265 HP compared with the 30-year average of 1 151 HP, a mere 9 percent increase.

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The world fleet of vessels of 100 GRT or more, as recorded by LMIS, grew until 1991 and has declined since then (Figure 34). This is probably representative of the world industrial fishing fleet, with the notable exception of China whose fleet has grown steadily during the same period.

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The overall decline has been brought about by a slowdown in construction as well as by the ageing of the fleet, which results in a growing number of vessels being denied certificates of seaworthiness and consequently having to cease fishing activities.

Construction. As reported in Part 1, Numbers of fishers and fishing vessels, LMIS databases indicate a long-term slowdown in the building rate for vessels of more than 100 GRT. Only 155 vessels were reported to have been built in 1997, although this is a provisional estimate and the final number is likely to be nearer to 200.

With respect to new fishing vessels, more than 50 percent of the 155 constructions in 1997 were reported from four countries - Japan (28), Spain (23), Peru (20) and Chile (10). It is worth noting that Japan and Spain both reduced their fleets during this period, reflecting active restructuring policies that include the replacement of their existing fleets. The new vessels built for Peru and Chile were mainly purse seiners built to replace a rapidly ageing fleet. Purse seiners, beam trawlers and shrimp trawlers formed a disproportionately high percentage of the new constructions relative to their numbers in the existing fleet, which would indicate that the fisheries using these vessel types are expected to remain - or become - more financially viable than other fisheries.

Decommissioning and losses. As a rough estimate, vessels removed from Lloyd's Register of Shipping before they are 20 years old are likely to have been lost at sea, whereas vessels older than 20 years have probably been scrapped if they are no longer listed. Figure 35 shows that vessels tend to be removed from the database owing to scrapping at just under 30 years, although there are about 1 266 vessels in the register that were built before 1960. A large part of these have wooden hulls, which are easier to keep up to safety standards than steel hulls of older vessels. Vessels removed from the register - whether lost at sea or scrapped - amount to more than 5 percent of the vessels in the total fleet.

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This suggests that, in order to take losses into account, the overall expected life cycle of a vessel has been about 20 years. Countries aiming to maintain stable fleets in terms of numbers will need to replace, on the average, 5 percent of their fleet every year.

CHANGES IN THE FLEETS OF MAJOR FISHING COUNTRIES

In 1997 there were four countries with more than 1 000 vessels reported in Lloyd's Register: Japan, the Republic of Korea, Spain and the United States. The countries of the CIS and the Baltic states, when taken together,27 also fall into this category (Figure 36). The increase in the Republic of Korea's fleet since 1994 is believed to be due to vessels that were previously flagged under open registers being reflagged under their national flag.

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Contrary to the development of these five fleets, those of some major fish producers among the developing countries have been expanding. This is true for several countries in Latin America, for India, Indonesia, Morocco and the Philippines (Figure 37). In many cases, a substantial part of the buildup has been due to older vessels being bought from developed countries.

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Several European countries had fleets of between 100 and 600 vessels above 100 GRT in 1997. In many cases, these European fleets have shown a substantial decrease as a result of the EC's decommissioning policies (Figure 38). The United Kingdom's fleet was also augmented by vessels owned in Spain and the Netherlands being reflagged to the United Kingdom as part of the so-called "quota hopping" exercise.

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The fleets of the main Latin American fishing countries continued to increase, with Mexico being the main exception (Figure 39).

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The number of vessels flagged under open registers or "flags of convenience" has continued to increase, albeit at a slower rate than in the early 1990s. Although the number of fishing vessels registered in Panama and Honduras has decreased, there has been a continued increase in registrations in Belize (158 in 1997), Cyprus (32), St Vincent and the Grenadines (139) and Vanuatu (35). Of the fishing vessels built in 1997, only three were entered in an open register.

Possible developments in the world fleet of vessels above 100 GRT

The future size of the world fishing fleet of vessels above 100 GRT will be determined by the rates of decommissioning, losses and construction of new vessels.

Decommissioning and losses. Figure 40 shows the age structure of the present fleet of fishing vessels above 100 GRT in Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Thus, in 1997, the databases recorded 11 675 vessels that were more than 20 years old, most of which can be expected to be scrapped in the next ten years, while a smaller number will be lost at sea (about 200 per year).

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Construction. It is more difficult to estimate future rates of construction. There will of course be a tendency to replace old ships, which will be strengthened or weakened depending on the investors' view of the state and prospects of the fishery concerned. The history of the Peruvian fleet illustrates this situation, with the peaks in additions to this fleet (Figure 41) clearly being linked to the availability of fish stocks (Figure 42), especially anchoveta, and the need to replace a rapidly ageing fleet over the last few years.

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The future

Will large vessels be replaced with other large vessels? Are large vessels in fact needed, or are those used for fishing at present simply a legacy of the pre-UNCLOS era? Certainly, in the foreseeable future, high seas tuna fishing will be conducted from vessels of 100 GT or more. Likewise, in the case of fisheries stocking small pelagics, fishing activities conducted inside the EEZs will be carried out using large vessels. Fisheries that are situated far from processing facilities will also need very large vessels.

On the other hand, some of the fisheries off the coasts of Africa that are currently exploited as part of distant-water fishing activities could also be fished from Africa itself, thereby allowing the use of smaller vessels. In some parts of West Africa, however, the absence of port facilities, including shore infrastructure for servicing fishing vessels, is a constraint to the introduction of semi-industrial fleets (comprising vessels of about 100 GRT or a little smaller). Since the construction of port facilities and associated infrastructure is a drawn-out process, it is probable that relatively large vessels (i.e. above 100 GRT) will continue to be in use for some time.

In many fisheries - particulary in those of developing countries - the cost involved in replacing old vessels is such that there will be a tendency either to use smaller vessels or to continue to buy second-hand larger vessels. However, given the disappearance of wood as a building material for the hulls of these larger vessels, together with the annual loss of at least 1 800 to 2 000 steel-hulled vessels by scrapping,28 the supply of second-hand vessels of 100 GRT or more will be small.

An extrapolation of all the present trends (decomissioning, losses and construction) to the present fleet of between 43 000 and 45 000 vessels suggests that, in ten years' time, the world fleet of fishing vessels above 100 GRT will number about 27 000 craft. That implies a reduction of about 40 percent, which is unlikely to eventuate. In reality, the number will most probably drop to somewhere between 27 000 and the present level.

1 Main contributor: J.M. Kapetsky, FAO Fisheries Department.
2 FAO. 1998. Geography and constraints on inland fishery enhancements. By J.M. Kapetsky. In T. Petr, ed. Inland fishery enhancements, p. 37-64. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 374. Rome.
3 A.B. Avakyan and V.B. Lakovleva. 1998. Status of global reservoirs: the position in the late twentieth century. Lakes and Reservoirs: Research and Mangement, 3: 45-52.
4 M. Collier, R. Webb and J. Schmidt. 1996. Dams and rivers. A primer on the downstream effects of dams. United States Geological Survey. Circular No. 1126.
5 Kapetsky, op. cit., footnote 2.
6 C. Vorosmarty, K.P. Sharma, B.M. Fekete, A.H. Copeland, J. Holden, J. Marble and J.A. Lough. 1997. The storage and aging of continental runoff in large reservoir systems of the world. Ambio, 26(4): 210-219.
7 C. Ravenga, S. Murray, J. Abramovitz and A. Hammond. 1998. Watersheds of the world. Ecological value and vulnerability. A joint publication of the World Resources Institute and the Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC.
8 World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1998. Freshwater biodiversity: a preliminary global assessment (Draft only).
9 See also D.M. Bartley, L. Garibaldi and R.L. Welcomme. 1997. Introductions of Aquatic Organisms: a global perspective and database. Paper presented at the American Fisheries Society Symposium on Impacts, Threats and Control of Introduced Species in Coastal Waters, Monterey, California, USA, 28 August 1997.
10 Horak, D. 1995. Native and nonnative fish species used in state fisheries management programs in the United States. American Fisheries Society Symposium, 15: 61-67.
11 R.A. Leidy and P.B. Moyle. 1998. Conservation status of the world's fish fauna: an overview. In P.L. Fiedler and P.M. Kareiva, eds. Conservation biology, 2nd ed., p. 187-227. New York, Chapman and Hall.
12 FAO. 1992. Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics. Recreational fisheries. CWP-15/10. 6 pp. Cited in the Report of the Fifteenth Session of the Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics. FAO Fisheries Report No. 473. Rome.
13 D. Coates. 1995. Inland capture fisheries and enhancement: status, constraints and prospects for food security. Paper presented at the Government of Japan/FAO International Conference on Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security, Kyoto, Japan, 4-9 December 1995. C/FI/95/TECH/3. Rome, FAO. 82 pp.
14 P. Hickley and H. Tompkins, eds. 1998. Recreational fisheries. Social, economic and management aspects, Table 1.1, chap. 1. Oxford, UK, Fishing News Books. 310 pp.
15 BRIEFS, 26(5): 5 (Newsletter of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists).
16 Only about 100 fish species or species groups are listed in FAO statistics on inland capture. Therefore, most species are not identified in FAO production statistics and about 45 percent of the inland catch is reported as unspecified freshwater fish, 7 percent as unspecified freshwater molluscs and 6 percent as unspecified crustaceans.
17 FAO/World Bank Cooperative Programme in collaboration with the Fisheries Department. 1998. Fisheries and aquatic biodiversity management in the Amazon. Desk Study. Report No. 98/055 CP-RLC. 2 September 1998. 55 pp.
18 Coates, op. cit., footnote 13.
19 B. Born. An overview of inland fishery enhancements from a global perspective. FAO. (in preparation)
20 Main contributors: A. Crispoldi, R. Grainger and A. Smith, FAO Fisheries Department.
21 Source: ILO. Economically active population, 1950-2010, 4th ed., December 1996. (on diskette)
22 The agricultural sector is referred to here in the broad sense, i.e. including fisheries and forestry.
23 Those deriving at least 90 percent of their income from fishing or aquaculture are classed as full-time fishers, whereas those deriving between 30 and 89 percent of their income from fishing or aquaculture are classed as part-time fishers. Readers should be aware that the data provided to FAO often do not meet the required specifications. Overall, trends appear to be more reliable than the absolute data.
24 For details see FAO. 1997. Numbers of fishers. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 929. Rome.
25 FAO. 1997. Les pêches en Méditerranée: éléments d'information sur le contexte halieutique et les enjeux économiques de leur aménagement. By C. Breuil. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 927. Rome.
26 A decked vessel is one with a fixed structural deck covering the entire hull above the deepest operating waterline.
27 Data are aggregated in order to permit comparisons with the situation in the 1980s.
28 This calculation is based on an extrapolation from the fleet reported in Lloyd's Register of Shipping to the fleet as a whole.

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