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Mapping a fishery and the resources should be among the priority tasks when planning for fisheries management and should not be postponed until "complete" information is available, since redundancies or blanks in the information base will more readily appear in the process of elaboration.

In the context of the above statement, FAO's Fisheries Department has produced a series of publications focusing on the necessary skills and procedures for mapping marine resources, a revision of growing need of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and its applications to marine fisheries to more recent workshops organized at regional levels for discussing the use of GIS as a decision support for the management of fisheries.

Another field which has received a lot of attention during the past decade, and which is increasingly investigated, is the remote sensing for the acquisition of information on fisheries resources location and dynamics. Although the direct detection of fish stocks would appear difficult, different techniques are currently under exploitation and described various manuals and recent FAO publications.

Online map repositories and generators

Through the Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS) it is possible to access a variety of online mapping tools. Linked to the main FAO gateway of maps and geo-referenced datasets, GeoNetwork, the user can search, visualize and download a large number of GIS or static maps form different domains. 

Online maps for fisheries include:

  • a collection of Species Distribution Maps that the user can browse and visualize in real-time, and
  • an atlas of global distribution of catches at 5° latitude by 5° longitude resolution for tuna and tuna-like species.

As technology advances, so will the tools available for charting fisheries which in turn will assist decision-makers in shaping future fisheries management approaches and policies.

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