Well informed formulation of policy, the elaboration of plans and the management of fisheries and aquaculture, relies on the collection of basic data on fishers, catches, fishing effort, prices, values and other related information, such as size at capture and length frequencies of target species.
While a variety of statistical software packages is commercially available, there is no commercial package to assist fisheries Department in their effort to collect, assemble, check, process and report fishery statistics. Some packages have been produced through bilateral assistance. FAO has produced, develops and distributes ARTFISH (Approaches, Rules and Techniques for Fisheries statistical monitoring) a software software package to assist users in methodological and operational aspects of planning, establishing and running a statistical system for fisheries. The collection of fishery statistics usually falls under the government's fisheries department or ministry. However, some of the data needed may be collected by other government offices such as the trade and industry ministry (production and imports/exports data) or the finance ministry (data on prices/values). This requires good co-ordination or the integration of data systems. The adequacy of financial and human resources is frequently a constraint in the collection of adequate data.
The FAO is the only source of comprehensive global fishery statistics. It collects statistical data from national reporting offices and uses estimates when data are lacking or are considered unreliable. The FAO encourages standardised data submission procedures and the use of international classifications to ensure that the collected statistics are comparable across countries. Data collected is disseminated through both printed and electronic publications and aggregated data is also available through the FAO internet site.