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The eleventh session of the Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics (CWP), conscious of the fact that source and reference documents related to the concepts and definitions used in fishery statistics are widely dispersed and not always readily available, proposed in 1982 that a “Handbook of fishery statistics” be brought together.

The first edition (in English) in 1990, based on a draft prepared by L.P.D. Gertenbach, shortly before he retired after many years as FAO’s Senior Fishery Statistician, and as Secretary of the CWP, was extensively developed, edited, restructured and completed by M.A. Robinson (Senior Fishery Statistician, FAO) and David G. Cross (Administrator, Fishery Statistics, Eurostat). In finalising the first edition, additional material was submitted by the secretariats of the CWP Member Agencies (CCAMLR, EUROSTAT, FAO, ICCAT, ICSEAF, ICES, NAFO and OECD – for acronyms see page 260). Spanish and French editions of the Handbook followed in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

The content of the present publication, renamed “Handbook of fishery statistical standards”, is largely based on the 1990 edition but in addition to extensive revisions concerning CWP memberships, and relevant modifications to commissions’ statistical work, has been expanded to cover descriptions of the existing major fishing areas in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Antarctic Oceans, and presents also eight new Sections on fishery related subjects. The CWP Handbook now covers all the intended range of fishery statistical concepts, definitions and classifications.


In conceiving the Handbook of fishery statistics the CWP intended that it should cover the concepts, definitions and related matters as applied to fishery statistics of the Atlantic Ocean by the CWP Member Agencies. Presently this Handbook has been extended to cover all fishery matters related to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Antarctic and all adjacent waters, therefore, covering global information related and used by other fishery agencies and CWP Member Agencies in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Antarctic Oceans. Many of these principles are applied in a wider context but the user is advised to check the validity of such applications.

The Handbook was developed to indicate the principles applied by the international agencies. There has been no attempt to include details of national systems, many of which, having been developed for specific national purposes, differ from those used internationally. Authorities considering introducing or revising national statistical systems are requested to ensure that the system developed incorporates a high degree of compatibility with the international standards here described.

In its efforts to develop useful and practical systems, the CWP is consistently keeping these standards under review and welcomes the comments of the national authorities on the application of these international standards at the national level.
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