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One of the many technical papers produced each year by the FAO Fisheries Department
One of the many technical papers produced each year by the FAO Fisheries Department

One of the most important mandates of FAO and its Fisheries and Aquaculture Department is to analyse and distribute fishery data and information and provide advice and objective information services to Member governments in order to promote responsible aquaculture and fisheries. The guiding principles that ensure that information products elaborated by the Department are relevant, and that they reach the target clients, are encompassed in the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Information Strategy. Aiming at sustainable development and utilization of the world's fisheries and aquaculture, the strategy intends to:

  • promote a responsible fisheries sector management;
  • stimulate an increased contribution of responsible fisheries and aquaculture to world food supplies and food security;
  • provide a global monitoring and strategic analysis of fisheries.

As a contribution to the implementation of the strategy, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department produces a wide range of information products and publications targeting different communities within the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

The most well-known and widely-distributed publications are those within the regular series category, such as FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Papers, FAO Yearbook of Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics (dating back to 1947) and the Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries, are produced multilingual and distributed worldwide and available on Internet. The Department's flagship publication, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA), is published every two years and launched at the FAO Committee on Fisheries. Other regular series such as the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circulars, regarded as a quicker means of spreading more informal information, and the Technical Papers of FAO regional fishery bodies such as the Committee for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture of Africa (CIFAA) related to specific regions, normally target narrower audiences. All in all, the Department produces fifteen serial publications, together with occasional monographs and multimedia products, releasing some 100 titles per year.

In addition, some documents - often referred to as 'grey literature' because they are published in limited numbers - have a narrow distribution and can be restricted to FAO and individual Members. These include reports of FAO fisheries projects and FAO fisheries bodies as well as papers presented at many FAO technical meetings. Fisheries projects often collect and analyse unique information and data for the benefit of FAO Members. The published results of this work, in the form of non-restricted project reports, are therefore frequently requested by specialists in fisheries and aquaculture around the world. Organizing, disseminating and making available this 'grey literature' is one of the functions of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaqculture branch library.

FAO, created in 1945, has continuously published a wealth of information across a very broad subject range. Ensuring accessibility to a worldwide community with varying resources and means presents a challenge which new information technology is helping to meet. The distribution of bibliographic data for all FAO Fisheries publications and documents via the FAO on-line catalogue or via international databases such as Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) and Information Management for Agriculture (AGRIS) has been improved in recent years by the increasing availability of full-text digital documents. The FAO Corporate Document Repository provides access to full text publications. Retrospective digitization is helping to make available older, and still in demand, publications via the CDR and on CD-ROM.

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