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1. FAO Major Fishing Areas

For statistical purposes, 27 major fishing areas have been internationally established to date. These comprise

- eight major inland fishing areas covering the inland waters of the continents,

- nineteen major marine fishing areas covering the waters of the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, with their adjacent seas.

The major fishing areas, inland and marine, are identified by their names and by two-digit codes.

01Africa - inland waters
02North America - inland waters
03South America - inland waters
04Asia - inland waters
05Europe - inland waters
06Oceania - inland waters
07Former USSR area - inland waters *
08Antarctica - inland waters
18Arctic Sea
21Northwest Atlantic
27Northeast Atlantic
31Western Central Atlantic
34Eastern Central Atlantic
37Mediterranean and Black Sea
41Southwest Atlantic
47Southeast Atlantic
48Atlantic, Antarctic
51Western Indian Ocean
57Eastern Indian Ocean
58Indian Ocean, Antarctic and Southern
61Northwest Pacific
67Northeast Pacific
71Western Central Pacific
77Eastern Central Pacific
81Southwest Pacific
87Southeast Pacific
88Pacific, Antarctic

* The fishing area 07 ("Former USSR area - Inland waters") referred to the area that was formerly the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Starting with the data for 1988, information for each new independent Republic is shown separately. The new independent Republics are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (statistics are assigned to the fishing area "Asia - Inland waters") and Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Ukraine (statistics are assigned to the fishing area "Europe - Inland waters").

2. Regional breakdown of FAO Major Marine Fishing Areas

The internationally accepted standard practice is to divide each of the major fishing areas into:


Such systems of subareas, divisions and subdivisions have been successfully developed and implemented in the Atlantic Ocean by ICNAF, the predecessor of NAFO, for major fishing area 21, by ICES for area 27, by CECAF for area 34, by GCFM for area 37, by CARPAS for area 41, by ICSEAF for area 47, 51.8 and 58.7, by CPPS for area 87 in the Pacific Ocean, and by CCAMLR for areas 48, 58 and 88 in the Antarctic.

The Joint Working Party of Experts on Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Fishery Statistics (JWP) by 1978 established subareas for statistical purposes through the IOFC (for areas 51 and 57) and through the IPFC (for areas 71 and 81). (Note: IPFC in 1993 was renamed APFIC - Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission)

Only in three FAO Major Fishing Areas a breakdown by subareas has not yet been established. These are the Northwest and No23rtheast Pacific (Areas 61 and 67) and the Eastern Central Pacific (Area 77). However, a number of proposals are under consideration, including extensive revision of the boundaries of several areas in the Pacific. For the Western Central Atlantic (Area 31) a breakdown by subareas has been proposed, but is not operational.

3. Development sequence of FAO Major Marine Fishing Areas

The following series of world charts show developments and changes to the boundaries of fishing areas established for statistical purposes. The world charts presented in the following link start with their initial publication in Volume VI of the FAO Yearbook of Fishery Statistics (1956) up to the latest world chart showing the current demarcations of statistical areas included in Volume 94 Part 1, (2004).

These charts will assist the users in establishing historical series for catch data from FAO Yearbooks of Fishery Statistics.

4.Description and figures of Marine Fishing Areas

Detailed description of boundaries with coordinates and maps for each of the 19 major marine fishing areas, showing subareas, divisions and subdivisions when applicable, are presented at the following page: FAO Major Fishing Areas
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