Several years ago, at one of the earliest sessions of the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council, attention was drawn to the need for textbooks covering each of the aspects of fisheries science. Plans were then made for a series of manuals for the use of fishery workers in the Indo-Pacific region. Progress in preparing these was for several reasons very slow. In the meantime, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations had found through its Expanded Program of Technical Assistance, its experience in conducting regional training centers and, more recently, as Executing Agency of fisheries projects under the Special Fund sector of the United Nations Development Program, that the need for such manuals extended beyond the Indo-Pacific region. The Organization therefore undertook to sponsor the production of such a series for worldwide use.
There can be no doubt about the need for manuals such as those planned. Fisheries science is new, its academic institutions few, and its practitioners far from numerous. It is natural therefore that few efforts should have been made to crystallize, in textbook language, ideas and concepts that are even now still taking shape. Nor does FAO wish to be premature in this matter, and these manuals will therefore not be textbooks in the usual sense, but rather practical guides describing techniques and plans and presenting such ideas and views on this science as at present have general currency. In doing this we have borne in mind that very frequently the original scientific publications in which methods are described may not all be available to the technicians and research workers for whom these manuals are intended, especially in developing countries: and also that although many of the methods for particular purposes - especially in oceanography - are more fully described in a number of existing manuals, these also are not always accessible, nor published in a language readily understood by the users.
An unusual feature of this and other manuals in the FAO series will be the combination of descriptions of methods for both inland and marine investigations: this, we believe, will prove especially useful in developing countries, where the very few trained people may be called upon from time to time to make ad hoc studies outside their own special competence.
The production of these manuals is a co-operative enterprise in which authors, consultants and users are joined together in deciding which concepts, methods and terms have survived sufficient testing to merit inclusion. Because fisheries science is growing rapidly, the manuals are issued in separate fascicules to allow for ready revision of individual sections.
The assistance of all fishery workers in the task of revision is sought, and comments and suggestions from readers would be welcomed.
Compilation and publication in three languages of technical manuals such as these is necessarily a lengthy process. Since work on them was begun the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic Commission under Unesco, and the Scientific Committee for Oceanic Research of the International Council of Scientific Unions have both come into existence, and the Unesco Office of Oceanography, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and other international bodies have, through specialized working groups and by other means, begun studies to review many oceanographic methods and to propose standards for them. It may well be, therefore, that several of the methods originally proposed for inclusion in this manual will soon be superseded. Nevertheless, at the time of going to press the methods described in each volume are believed to be useful ones, even if some are not entirely satisfactory.
ROY I. JACKSON
Department of Fisheries