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Collection Overview  
The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics and Information Branch (FIAS) collates world capture and aquaculture production statistics at either the species, genus, family or higher taxonomic levels in 2 269 statistical categories (2015 data) referred to as species items.

ASFIS list of species includes 12 721 species items selected according to their interest or relation to fisheries and aquaculture. For each species item stored in a record, codes (ISSCAAP group, taxonomic and 3-alpha) and taxonomic information (scientific name, author(s), family, and higher taxonomic classification) are provided. An English name is available for most of the records, and about one third of them have also a French and Spanish name. Information is also provided about the availability of fishery production statistics on the species item in the FAO databases.
Available Formats & Information Products  

Download the list

  • Download the February 2017 version of the ASFIS_sp.zip file (1600 KB) which includes also a version of the ASFIS List with Arabic, Chinese and Russian names
  • Choose the "Save it to disk" option
  • Uncompress the files using WINZIP and save them in a directory on your hard disk
  • The ASFIS_sp_Feb_2017.txt file can be easily imported in spreadsheet or database software
  • The file is in Delimited format, Tab is the Delimiter separating each field and the Text Qualifier is "
  • The first row contains the field names and records are sorted by taxonomic code
  • Records can be also searched and retrieved online through the FAO Aquatic Species Portal developed by the FAO Terminology Team in the Language Support Group, Meeting Programming and Documentation Service, CSCM.


Three types of codes are assigned to each species item: The ISSCAAP code is assigned according to the FAO 'International Standard Statistical Classification for Aquatic Animals and Plants' (ISSCAAP) which divides commercial species into 50 groups on the basis of their taxonomic, ecological and economic characteristics. The taxonomic code is used by FAO for a more detailed classification of the species items and for sorting them out within each ISSCAAP group. The 3-alpha identifier is a unique code made of three letters that is widely used for the exchange of data with national correspondents and among fishery agencies.
Upon receipt for the first time of production statistics for a species item, FIAS had to assign new codes before entering the corresponding production data in the statistical databases. Furthermore, FIAS often receives requests from national institutions and fishery commissions to provide 3-alpha codes to species items of local interest. In order to facilitate such processes, taxonomic and 3-alpha codes have been assigned to a broader number of species. Since 2000 the ASFIS list has been made available on the Internet to provide external users with a standardized codification system covering most of the species items related to fishery activities.
A hard copy version of the ASFIS list of species was published in 2002 and can be requested free of charge (see Contacts). Download the introductory sections and the appendixes.

Characteristics of the list

The list is a part of the ASFIS Reference Series which includes the authority lists, rules and guidelines for Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA).
Presently, the ASFIS list of species includes 12 721 species items. As there are more than 17 500 possible valid combinations of the 26 characters of the English alphabet forming the 3-alpha code, the database can be further expanded using the same codification system. Only FAO-FIAS, being the manager of the list, can create or modify codes.
Each species item stored in a record has an ISSCAAP code, a taxonomic code, a 3-alpha code, a scientific name, taxonomic classification at family and at a higher taxonomic level. About 75% of the records have an English name, 40% a French name and 37% a Spanish name; only those of species items for which there are production statistics can be considered as official FAO names. Information is also provided about the availability of fishery production statistics on the species items in the FAO databases.
Following a recommendation of the 19th Session of the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics - CWP (Nouméa, New Caledonia, 10-13 July 2001) the names and composition of former ISSCAAP groups 33, 34 and 37 were revised. The species items of the former group 33 "Redfishes, basses, congers" were classified as coastal or demersal fishes and accordingly assigned to the new groups 33 "Miscellaneous coastal fishes" and 34 "Miscellaneous demersal fishes". The species formerly included in group 34 "Jacks, mullets, sauries" were moved to group 37, which was renamed "Miscellaneous pelagic fishes". For further information see FAO's report on ISSCAAP groups (pages 42-49) presented at the 19th Session of the CWP and the ISSCAAP's revision endorsed by the CWP (page 23 of the CWP Report).

Criteria adopted

The 12 721 species items were selected according to their interest or relation to fisheries and aquaculture. Recent taxonomic revisions have been consulted to use the correct scientific names and taxonomic classification. This allowed the identification of some scientific names and taxonomic codes used in the FAO fishery statistics databases that were no longer correct. However, this list has obviously no authority on taxonomic matters and to resolve uncertain cases specialized sources should be consulted.
A pragmatic and conservative approach has been applied for uncertain cases for scientific and FAO names. Changes of scientific names and creation of new species proposed in the scientific literature by taxonomists will be included in the ASFIS list only when such changes have been recognized by the majority of taxonomists and are well consolidated among people dealing with fishery matters and, in particular, fishery statistics. For the most controversial cases, the ASFA database has been consulted to verify if a newly proposed scientific name has become of current use.
In some cases the taxonomic codes have not been modified according to recent taxonomic revisions as it would have entailed major changes in species items having statistics or because the relevant digits of the taxonomic code were not available. For some genera of scarce importance for fisheries and including many species, a single species has been selected and included in the list to assign a taxonomic code to the genus.

Structure of the database

Main sources

The species of importance to fisheries have been mainly selected consulting the FAO FishFinder publications, such as species catalogues, identification sheets and field guides. FishBase (1998) has been the main source of information on newly included fish species. For fishes, the Eschmeyer's (1998) higher classification was adopted (as in FishBase), for crustaceans the classification by Bowman and Abele (1982) and that of Luning, Yarish and Kirkman (1990) for algae. For the other groups, more than one source has been consulted for the higher classification. A short list of the main references used for compiling the ASFIS list of species is provided (Bibliographic references).

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