Regional fisheries bodies (or regional fishery management organizations) are responsible for assessing and monitoring the state of the fisheries and resources placed under their jurisdiction as a basis for their management.
In order to fulfill this task, a number of working groups of selected experts are usually established. When statutory or "permanent" they are often called Working Parties (WPs). However, they are more often ad hoc and called Working Groups (WGs).
WPs and WGs are established to advise and elaborate recommendations on any topic, issue or discipline of relevance to the functioning of an organization, e.g. statistics, stock assessment, socio-economics, gear or fish technology, small-scale fisheries. They may be organized by types of resources or stocks (e.g. Northwest African pelagic resources, shrimp resources, straddling stocks), or type of fisheries (e.g. small-scale, demersal or pelagic fisheries). WPs and WGs can also be formed to address key or emerging issues such as fish introduction, stockings, disease control, etc. in inland fisheries and aquaculture sector.
Members of the WPs and WGs are usually from the member countries of the organization but external experts may be invited to strengthen a group's capacity or for peer-reviewing. Depending on the status of the group, experts can either be selected directly by the organization's secretariat on the basis of personal capacities (e.g. as in the FAO Expert Consultations) or nominated by the member countries (e.g. as in the FAO Technical Consultations of governmental experts). The former are usually aimed at assisting the secretariats in their tasks. The latter are more formal and usually a necessary step in the elaboration of advice to member countries before important decisions or adoption of formal agreements.
Problems faced by fishery commissions
Major problems facing many fishery commissions in the developing world include:
• lack of national capacity to deal with the numerous emerging issues;
• insufficient or poor data to be used in the analysis;
• lack of human and financial resources to attend the meetings.