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Fisher is trained to weave gill nets
Fisher is trained to weave gill nets


UNCED and its Agenda 21 recognized that the lack or shortage of national capacity is one of the main impediments to the sustainable development of fisheries. Capacity-building is needed to improve inter alia the qualifications of manpower (e.g. fishers as well as scientific advisers or fishery administrators), the technology and the institutions (including laws and regulations, organizations and processes).

Training and extension are two important elements of capacity-building. Training for the fishery sector is no less a continuous process than in any other sectors, nor is the basic need for training any different. This applies to developed and developing countries alike.

Training in the fisheries sector

However, specific requirements differ greatly within the fishery sector and the opportunities as well as standards of training are often not yet consistent with the actual needs, particularly in many developing countries. This is partly due to the fact that the scope of training needs for the wide range of disciplines in the fisheries sector is not always clearly defined.

A contributory factor in this respect is inadequate manpower planning programmes and in many cases the numbers of persons involved in the post-harvest and culture sectors are not known, and data on those employed in capture fisheries could still be improved.

Furthermore, for those employed in the fisheries sector, standards of education, training and certification are generally set by administrations or by international organizations which may not have executive responsibilities for fisheries. This means that a high degree of cooperation between government ministries or departments, and between international organizations is required in order to address fisheries-related subjects and such cooperation is not readily achieved in all cases. Consequently, there is still concern that fishery education and training needs might not be adequately catered for in some countries.

The need to address problems associated with education and training in fisheries is not new. The FAO Committee on Fisheries has always given a high priority to training, as demonstrated by the establishment of a Sub-Committee on Training and Education at its Second Session in April 1967, the priorities at that time being reflected in the Fisheries Department's Regular and Field Programmes.

However, the development of technology in subsequent years led to greater demand for applied courses at technical and professional levels, to develop self-reliance in fisheries management and development. This was particularly so in the mid-1970s when the discussions at the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea resulted in global acceptance in 1982 of the coastal States' authority to manage fisheries within their extended economic zones (EEZs).

The FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development (1984) acknowledged that training was, and would continue to be, an essential part of all Programmes of Action and a prerequisite for further development, in order to sustain the fishing industry. It noted that general and applied education programmes would have to be improved in many cases in order to obtain maximum benefits from training.

Students learn to read a compass
Students learn to read a compass

Principles and guidelines

The principles and guidelines with respected to training which were embodied in the Strategy for Fisheries Management and development adopted by the Conference have also been applied to the Regular and Field Programmes on a national, as well as regional, basis:

  1. Training programmes should be elaborated within the context of overall national fisheries development plans and management policies.
  2. Training programmes should be based upon clearly defined needs and realistic assessments of existing trained or experienced manpower and current technology. Training should be categorized as to subject and target recipients. Governments should also determine which programmes might be undertaken using local resources and which ones need regional and extraregional expertise.
  3. While the major responsibility for basic training remains at the national level, external financial and technical assistance is often required to strengthen national training capacities and to provide supplementary training, particularly for higher-level personnel and in specialized skills.
  4. Because of the increased emphasis on policy formulation and the design and implementation of management schemes, training programmes should be organized for high-level administrators responsible for the fisheries sector. Training of mid-level personnel is equally important for implementation of development plans. Facilities should be maintained for continuous professional training.
  5. Efforts should be made to establish post-graduate courses and to develop improved training materials. To that effect, close cooperation at national level between fisheries research and academic institutions active in marine sciences and at international level among the appropriate UN organizations should be encouraged.
  6. Particular attention should be given to the training of extension staff and training specialists and of senior and intermediate-level key staff of various disciplines, who can contribute to training and assist in bringing about a multiplier effect.
  7. Improved training techniques and methodologies need to be developed and special training equipment and simple materials should be prepared to meet the needs of illiterate and semi-literate people. In this respect, efforts to raise the general educational level in fishing communities are important. Institutional and on-the-job training of both deep-sea fishing crews and artisanal fishers should be enhanced.The use of fishery cooperatives for training purposes should also be encouraged.
  8. Particular attention should be paid to the design and monitoring of on-the-job training programmes for selected fishing communities. Attention should be given to the training of local fishers and fisheries administrators in basic resource management, in environmental protection, in the operation and management of fishers' organizations, and in activities associated with social development.
  9. Governments should endeavour to provide incentives to ensure that those trained in fisheries are effectively deployed and retained within the fisheries sector.
  10. Training programmes should be regularly reviewed to ensure their effectiveness and relevance to needs.
  11. The transfer of technology should be promoted through pilot projects and assistance in building necessary infrastructure, product development and marketing.
  12. Encouragement must be given to the education of consumers to that they can take fuller advantage of the nutritional benefits of fishery products, particularly in regions where there is no tradition of consumption. Such training should include instruction in ways of preparing fish products.
Fish farmers need support from knowledgable technical staff
Fish farmers need support from knowledgable technical staff

Fishery training in FAO

Whereas the Organization has a general policy directed towards training programmes, the Fisheries Department has a high degree of autonomy with respect to training in fisheries. Nevertheless, close liaison is maintained through an Inter-departmental Working Group on Training allowing the Department to share central resources and to draw on the expertise of others. Through inter-agency committees and working groups, the interests of fisheries can be also be represented and such arrangements exist with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

Formal arrangements are also in force with international and regional bodies on matters of fishery-related technology and its transfer, pertinent examples of these being:

  • Statutory FAO regional fishery bodies and their working groups
  • International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
  • World Fish Center (formerly ICLARM)
  • Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC)
  • Organización Latinoamerica de Desarrollo Pesquero (OLDEPESCA)
  • Network of Intergovernmental Organizations for Marketing Information and Technical Advisory Services for Fishery Products INFOFISH, INFOPECHE, INFOPESCA, EASTFISH.

Less formal arrangements exist with institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as :

  • Asian Fisheries Society
  • National Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich
  • Marine Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland

At present training assistance is provided to countries in need through the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), regional projects funded from extra-budgetary sources such as the DFID-funded Sustainable Fisheries Livelihood Programme, or interregional projects funded from extra-budgetary sources such as FishCode.

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