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The Fisheries and Aquaculture Department prepares and maintains information systems and technical databases to monitor the status and trends of the world’s aquaculture and inland fisheries, at global, regional and national levels. The collection of statistics on aquaculture production was added to the fishery statistics collection activities programme in 1985. Initially the problem was obtaining a universally acceptable and permanent definition of aquaculture for data collection. The basis on which data have so far been collected by FAO defines aquaculture as the farming of aquatic organisms, which implies some form of intervention (such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators), is implied in the rearing process to enhance production, plus individual or corporate ownership of the stock being reared.

An objective for the aquaculture database is to include data on aquaculture production units (surface of growing waters, number of cages, number of pens, etc.) and type of culture in addition to the existing statistics on production quantity and price per kilogram by species, country and aquatic environment. The same coding scheme and record format used for nominal catches and landings are being used to store these data. Aquaculture statistics are needed by a wide range of data users including industry, banks, and groups interested in sources of fish supplies, location, costs and potential growth. The database shows annual figures from 1950 organized by about 180 countries, 3 aquatic environments and more than 400 species/items.

Since 2003, the Department initiated the development and maintenance of two fact sheets collections, National Aquaculture Sector Overviews (NASO) and National Aquaculture Legislation Overviews (NALO), as the primary sources of information for Regional or Global syntheses on the status and trends of Aquaculture. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme (CASIP) is the third collection of fact sheets also initiated in 2003, in order to provide a focus on aquaculture techniques or practices, and biological feature of interest for cultivated aquatic species. This collection nicely complements the renowned Species Identification sheets collection which focus is rather on capture species of commercial importance.

Activities also include the development of methodologies, technical guidelines, technical papers, reviews, training materials and geo-referenced information systems on GIS applications to aquaculture. The Department also prepares and maintains information systems and technical databases to monitor the status and trends of the world’s inland fisheries. This activity also includes the development of methodologies, technical guidelines, technical papers, reviews, training materials and geo-referenced information systems on GIS applications to inland fisheries.

GISFish is a "one stop" site from which to obtain the depth and breadth of the global experience on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing and mapping as applied to aquaculture and inland fisheries. GISFish sets out the issues in aquaculture and inland fisheries, and demonstrates the benefits of using GIS, remote sensing and mapping to resolve them. The global experience provided by GISFish is captured in databases of literature references, ongoing projects, training opportunities, activities, news and links.

The African Water Resource Database (AWRD) is a Geographic Information System (GIS) analytical framework supporting inland aquatic resource management with a specific focus on inland fisheries and aquaculture. The AWRD archive is comprised of 156 unique datasets including: surface water bodies; watersheds; aquatic species; rivers; political boundaries; population density; soils; satellite imagery and many other physiographic and climatological data types. To display and analyze these data the AWRD contains an assortment of new custom-designed applications and tools.

FAO Database on Introductions of Aquatic Species (DIAS) was developed by Robin Welcomme in the early 1980s and formed the basis for the 1988 FAO Fisheries Technical Paper no. 294. In the mid-1990s questionnaires were sent to fisheries experts to gather additional and up-to-date information on introductions and transfers of aquatic species in their countries. DIAS now includes additional taxa of plants, molluscs, and crustaceans, and marine species. DIAS is being coordinated by the Aquaculture Management and Conservation Service of the FAO Fisheries Department.

Aquatic Animal Pathogen and Quarantine Information System (AAPQIS), a collection of scientific literature detailing global occurrence of pathogens and diseases of aquatic animals, was developed during the nineties with the aim to provide a mechanism for assessing information on aquatic animal pathogens and diseases, with tools to help mapping, tracking, and regional cross-referencing of literature. Since information is derived from the scientific literature, and from contributions from a team of established experts in different fields of aquatic animal health, the system can be adapted for use by national governments for establishing national systems for disease reporting and tracking, as well as for reference information for aquatic animal health diagnosticians and academia.

A multilingual Glossary of Aquaculture containing almost 3 000 terms with definitions, synonyms, related terms, information sources and images, has been published in 2006 to properly define the terminology commonly used to facilitate communication among technical experts, scientists and non experts involved in aquaculture domain.

The web-based information system on Aquaculture Feed and Nutrient Resources aims at providing information on aquaculture feed and nutrient resources, specific information on common aquaculture species in relation to its feed and nutritional requirement, and the guidelines on how to use the information in order to decide on the most appropriate feeding strategy.

The FAO Aquaculture Newsletter (FAN), issued twice a year by the Department, presents articles and views from the FAO aquaculture programme and discusses various aspects of aquaculture as seen from the perspective of both headquarters and the field programme. Articles are contributed by FAO staff from within and outside the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, from FAO regional offices and field projects, by FAO consultants, and occasionally, by invitation from other sources. FAN is distributed free of charge to various institutions, scientists, planners and managers in member countries and has a current circulation of more than 2,000 copies.

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