Global fishery databases
Since the early 60s the Department has developed and maintained a set of global fishery statistics databases serving two main goals: support to fishery resources monitoring and assessment and constant review of the contribution of the fishery sector to the national economy and nutrition situation. The Fishery Statistics programme currently maintains 10 global time series and 5 regional capture time series.
During the 80s the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department started off the global Aquatic Scientific Fisheries Abstracts data base in order to facilitate access to existing scientific literature to scientists worldwide. FAO coordinated this ambitious effort through the ASFA information network partnership. In 2006, ASFA celebrated its 1.000.000 bibliographic record.
To support the monitoring of global tuna fishery resources and to foster an increasing collaboration with and among Tuna Regional Fishery Bodies, two additional statistical data sets on global tuna catches were launched in 2000: Global Tuna Catches by Stock, and Atlas of Tuna and Billfish Catches.
In 2003, COFI and UNGA endorsed the FAO Strategy for improving information on the status and trends of capture fisheries (Strategy-STF) which stresses the need for a global inventory of fisheries and fishery resources. Calling for an active collaboration among Regional Fishery Bodies, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department initiated the development of these two databases in 2003 within the framework of the Fishery Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS) partnership. The FishCode-STF project, begun in 2005, further support this inventory at national level - particularly in areas not, or poorly, covered by Regional Fishery Bodies.
The increasing contribution of aquaculture to total fish production requires enhanced monitoring, with particular emphasis on emerging issues and status of related legal frameworks. In 2003, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department began the National Aquaculture Sector Overview (NASO) collection with priority to those countries with a strong aquaculture sector. The NASO collection, and its National Aquaculture Legislation Overview (NALO) complement, provide the bases for the FAO review of the state of world aquaculture.
With the advent of FIGIS and the systematic application of geographic information standards, all fishery data bases are becoming increasingly geo-referenced, thus enabling mapping of global fishery indicators. For this purpose, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department constantly enriches its GIS global database: it develops its specialised fisheries GIS layers (species distribution maps, regional fishery bodies competence areas, fishing statistical areas) or integrates external sources (open source standard layers such as coastline, bathymetry, Large Marine Ecosystems, or commercial sources such as EEZs), or collaborates with other FAO units within the overall framework of UN Geographic Information Working Group on GIS layers of common interest to fisheries and agriculture (countries, sub-national administrative units, watersheds, rivers and lakes, etc...).