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The FAO is the only international body systematically collecting data on global fisheries, which places it in a unique position to identify trends in the fisheries sector. FAO collects, analyses,  corrects (when appropriate), interprets and disseminates statistics relating to various aspects of world fisheries such as fishery production from capture fisheries and aquaculture, production and trade of fishery commodities, apparent fish consumption, fishery fleets and employment. These statistics are stored in global fishery databases and disseminated through publications (statistical yearbooks, bulletins and circulars) and electronic media (CD-ROM and Internet).

 

These statistics are used to analyse the status and trends in the resources and exploitation sector in global and regional fisheries. They can also be used to analyse national trends but national statistics, usually available with a greater degree of detail would be better suited for the purpose.

Annual statistics provide a snapshot of the industry, allowing comparisons of production, employment, trade, gross fishing capacity, prices, etc. between species, resources, countries, regions, types of gear, types of commodities, etc. This snapshot is put in perspective looking at “trends” which may be interpreted in terms of “state” of the resources and the fishery sector.

 The diagnostic is not immediate and fishery statistics need to be complemented with additional data, from scientific stock assessments, industry records, magazines and the media, NGO sources, etc. While there is no formal FAO system of indicators and reference values to judge the sustainability of the fishery sector, the use of FAO databases, combined with other data (e.g. on prices, or demography) has led to the regular publication of key indicators in FAO key reviews such as the State of World Fishery Resources - Marine fisheries, The State of World Aquaculture,  or the FAO Flagship publication "The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture". These documents have been providing for decades the FAO view on the state of the fishery resources and industries, indicating clearly the problems, the poor performance of fishery management, and the likely trends (e.g. in supply and demand).

FAO's monitoring activities are developed more specifically in the following sub-sections:

  • analyses of status and trends of aquaculture development,
  • assessment of fishery resources,
  • analyses on fishing practices,
  • analyses on status and trends of capture fisheries,
  • policy and socio-economic surveys,
  • commodity markets or seafood quality and safety watching. 

This source of knowledge is further elaborated in the form of objective reviews, prognoses, policy briefs and strategic advice.

 
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