November 1998 COFI/99/5 Part I

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Twenty-third Session
Rome, Italy, 15-19 February 1999

Programme Outcome

Regular Programme

US$ ‘000



34 316



31 335


Over/(Under) Spending, US$ ‘000

(2 981)


Over/(Under) Spending, %



Field Programme

US$ ‘000


Extra-Budgetary TF and UNDP Delivery

28 623


Extra-Budgetary Emergency Project Delivery



TCP and SPFS Delivery

4 459


Total Field Programme Delivery

33 238


Ratio of Field to Regular Programme



Technical Support Services, Prof. Staff Cost

1 955


Technical Support Services, % of delivery



Programme Outputs


Approved in PWB


Unplanned Delivered

Total Delivered


Unmodified Modified

Percent Delivered

Methodologies and Guidelines








Information Systems
























Direct Services to Countries

























1. The Major Programme gave due attention to the implementation of the global framework established by the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Compliance Agreement, the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and the outcome of the Kyoto Conference on the Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security. Emphasis was also given to strengthening the capacity of countries to manage and conserve their fisheries resources and the continued provision of fisheries statistics and information.

2. The Major Programme suffered from resource shortfalls and vacant posts resulting in the cancellation or postponement of a number of planned outputs and a continued decline in the field programme, lowering the ratio between Regular Programme and field activities.

Programme 2.3.1 - Fisheries Information

3. Development of the Aquatic Science and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) database continued, as nine new ASFA Centres joined the ASFA Partnership. The Organization provided the secretariat for ASFA and maintained its leadership role. Demand for services from the Fisheries Branch Library continued to be strong, with external inquiries increasing by almost 70 percent.

4. Fishery statistics were disseminated through FAOSTAT and the computerized dissemination packages made available on the Internet. The latter enabled FAO both to distribute technical information and to inform the general public of its the fisheries programmes. Statistics on the numbers of fishers and fish-farmers were refined and published for the first time in a dedicated publication. The Yearbook of Fishery Statistics devoted to fishery commodities was streamlined and restructured to follow the harmonized system of commodity classification.

5. Guidelines on the collection of structural aquaculture statistics were prepared and published as a Supplement to the Programme for the World Agricultural Census 2000 in order to assist countries to improve the quality of fishery statistics. Standardized statistical approaches and software were developed to be used by countries for improving their capture fishery data. A regional workshop on fishery statistics was held in Asia and training courses, seminars and workshops were organized at both national and sub-regional levels, mainly in Africa.

Programme 2.3.2 - Fisheries Resources and Aquaculture

6. Work on marine resources included initiation of a major six-volume set of species identification sheets for the Western Central Pacific and production of field guides for Somalia, the Gulf States and the Cambodian Mekong region. Resource reviews were prepared on squids, euphausids and mesopelagics. A CD-ROM identifying marine mammals of the world, and species catalogues for Glaucosomatidae, Haemulidae and shrimps were also produced. Reports of CECAF (Fisheries Committee for Eastern Central Atlantic) working groups on cephalopods and sardines were issued. Three publications on tuna resources and fisheries interactions and two publications on Black Sea assessments and Mediterranean fish stock trends were completed. The State of Marine Resources was updated and released in both printed form and on the Internet.

1 Follow-up to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries included the preparation of the Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries Management, and formulation of an Interregional Programme of Assistance for its implementation, two components of which received extra-budgetary funding.

8. Database and software development was undertaken jointly with the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) and included combining summaries of stock assessment data for key statistical areas in the POPDYN database with more general information in the FISHBASE database and completion of FiSAT, a major software package on stock assessment. Fourteen national and four regional training courses in resource assessment methodology were held and made extensive use of these and other FAO-developed software products.

9. Studies of the linkage between small pelagic fish resources and climatic variation continued and work was initiated on the effects of nutrient run-off in semi-enclosed seas, particularly the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Analyses of transboundary fisheries in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean were produced in cooperation with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)/UNEP.

10. Work on aquaculture and inland resources included technical assistance to countries to improve rural-small-scale aquaculture development and alleviate rural poverty. Technical guidelines were prepared on aquaculture development and inland fisheries in support of the implementation of the Code of Conduct. Analysis was undertaken of trends in aquaculture and inland fisheries production, aquatic resource use and management and specialized databases developed for collection and dissemination of information. Geo-referenced databases and application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) were used to assess aquaculture and inland fisheries potential, providing a platform for discussion among national, regional and international institutions, agencies and personnel. Technical assistance was also provided in specialized fields including aquatic environmental management, disease control and health, nutrition, genetics and aquatic biodiversity, inland fisheries enhancement, and integrated resource management. RAF and RAP convened workshops on sustainable aquaculture.

11. Collaboration with UN agencies and other international, governmental and non-governmental bodies increased in the areas of safe transboundary movement of aquatic animals, aquatic animal quarantine and health certification, environmental management of coastal aquaculture, chemical use in aquaculture, integration of aquaculture into coastal management, policies for sustainable shrimp culture development, quality and human health safety of aquaculture products, and responsible use of alien aquatic species.

12. The FAO Conference at its Twenty-eighth Session broadened the mandate of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to include genetic resources of animals, including aquatic animals. Planning was initiated on how best to manage aquatic genetic resources to ensure their sustainable use, in view of increasing natural resources scarcity, competition for resources, and increasing degradation of aquatic biodiversity. In this regard, in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Department and the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), an international conference was convened at Bellagio, Italy, in April 1998, to discuss policies for conservation and sustainable use of aquatic genetic resources.

Programme 2.3.3 - Fisheries Exploitation and Utilization

13. In support of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, technical guidelines on Fishing Operations were published, and in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and ILO the Document for Guidance on Fishermen's Certification and Training was revised. Other supportive activities included contributions to three industry workshops on the Code organized for industrial fishermen and preparation of a model course on the Code for skippers and mates and preparation of Guidelines for Vessel Monitoring Systems.

14. A Consultation on Selective Fishing for the Responsible Exploitation of Marine Resources was organized in Asia and workshops held on selective shrimp trawling in two regions. Publications on vessel construction and design were produced to meet specific national and regional operating conditions for small-scale fisheries. In the area of sea safety for artisanal fishermen, a practical training curriculum was developed and tested for canoe fishermen in West Africa.

15. Work on over-capacity included a global study on economic viability and sustainability of marine capture fisheries. A workshop was held to review the findings. Workshops on financing of value-added fishery products, on demographic changes in coastal fishing communities and on economic strengthening of fishery industries for Small Island Developing States in the South Pacific were also organized.

16. Technical guidelines for Article 11 of the Code of Conduct on the utilization of bycatch and discards from marine capture fisheries were prepared and similar guidelines on responsible fish trade were initiated. Support continued to be provided to the training programme on HACCP.

17. The Regional Fish Marketing Information Network, coordinated by the FAO/GLOBEFISH System received further assistance, and two centres were added to the four that previously became independent. The Network organized commodity conferences, seminars, and joint activities with fisheries industries, international trade fairs and exhibitions. The GLOBEFISH Database continued to be updated and expanded.

18. A Technical Consultation on the Reduction of Wastage in Fisheries and the Sixth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) Sub-committee on Fish Trade were held. Meetings of the Working Parties on fish utilization and marketing for Asia/Pacific Region and for COPESCAL (Committee for Inland Fisheries of Latin America) were organized.

19. The COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade gave support to its functioning as an International Commodity Body (ICB) for the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and agreed that FAO organize a technical consultation to investigate the feasibility and practicability of developing non-discriminatory, globally applicable technical guidelines for the eco-labelling of marine fishery products. The Consultation was held in October 1998 (COFI/99/6 Suppl.1).

Programme 2.3.4 - Fisheries Policy

20. Assistance continued to be provided to countries on policies, plans, strategies and programmes for fisheries management and development, covering a wide range of issues. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) was published and technical papers prepared on the economics and management of fish discards and on social issues in fisheries. Technical guidelines for the Code of Conduct provisions on Integration of Fisheries in Coastal Zone Management were also published. A first set of Fishery Country Profiles were made available on the Internet.

21. Support continued to be provided to regional fishery bodies while efforts were made to strengthen, increase the independence and streamline the operation of these bodies. The General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM) agreed upon amendments to the GFCM Agreement that would provide for the establishment of an autonomous budget and, among others, the change of the name of the Council into Commission. The Commission for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA) recognized the need to increasingly rely on local resources and abolished most of its subsidiary bodies. The Bay of Bengal Committee of the Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (IOFC) agreed that it be merged into the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC). The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) became operational with an autonomous budget and a secretariat paid for by members’ contributions. The CIFA Committee for Lake Victoria was transformed into an intergovernmental organization (the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization).

22. The FAO Technical Consultation on Policies for Sustainable Shrimp Culture was organized (see box). The Twenty-second Session of COFI and the First Session of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR) were held. On the basis of discussions at COFI, preparations were initiated for a Consultation on the Management of Fishing Capacity, Shark Fisheries and Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries including technical documentation on the definition, measurement and management of fishing capacity.

23. Assistance was provided to countries in conservation and management aspects of fisheries and aquaculture. However, due to lack of resources, a global review of the management of small-scale, artisanal fisheries in poor regions was partially completed, and an analysis of economic and social issues related to the transfer of aquaculture technology to Africa could only be initiated.

Sustainable Shrimp Culture

The rapid development of shrimp culture in coastal areas has been accompanied by increasingly controversial debates over its environmental, social and economic impacts. In this context, FAO convened a Technical Consultation on Policies for Sustainable Shrimp Culture in Bangkok, Thailand, from 8 to 11 December 1997. It was attended by Government delegates and observers from 12 countries of Asia and America, which together account for about 90 percent of the global production of cultured shrimp and include major consuming countries. Observers from five inter-governmental organizations and from four international NGOs also attended.

The Consultation led to a broad consensus that sustainable shrimp culture is an achievable goal. When practised in a sustainable fashion, shrimp culture is an acceptable means of achieving such varied national goals as food production, employment and generation of foreign exchange. In particular, the Consultation recommended: (i) a range of desirable principles to be followed for legal, institutional and consultative frameworks and regulatory policies; (ii) a number of specific areas for future research, including economic incentives to generate financial resources for sustainable development of shrimp culture practices, and (iii) that FAO convene expert meetings to elaborate best practices for shrimp culture, desirable elements of the legal and regulatory frameworks for coastal aquaculture and the criteria and indicators for monitoring sustainability of shrimp culture.


24. The Committee is invited to review and comment on the achievements of the Major Programme - Fisheries during 1997-98.