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The R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen at sea
FAO has been collaborating with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) of Bergen, Norway for the last 34 years for the successful implementation of previous phases of the Nansen Programme. From 1975 the Nansen Programme carried out fisheries resources and environment surveys in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America using the vessel R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen operated by the IMR. The early phases of the programme focused on exploration of fisheries resources for development, and later resource evaluation (or assessments) and monitoring with standardized information collection systems.

Since the early 1990s the programme expanded on it original scope of undertaking national and regional surveys to also include capacity building in fisheries research and management (institutional strengthening in partner countries), and organization of post-survey meetings to provide fisheries administrations with results of surveys. Regional collaboration and transboundary issues became central in the delivery and FAO provided the following four main services:
  1. Strategic advice to Norad

  2. Coordination and implementation of activities in Northwest Africa

  3. Technical advice and logistical backstopping to IMR and the various partner countries in South Western Africa 

  4. Collaboration with IMR in the planning and organization of surveys using the R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen requested by other countries, mainly in West Africa

Scientists on board the vessel.
Emphasis was placed on countries and institutions in Northwest Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and South Western Africa. The Programme was implemented in close collaboration with the fisheries administrations in the partner countries.

Through these activities the Programme has developed extensive experience and a cooperation network with national and regional institutions and programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. With the exception of the early days of the Programme, when it received co-funding from UNDP (e.g. the vessel was assigned on a cost sharing basis to the UNDP/FAO Indian Ocean Programme) the Nansen Programme has been funded by Norad.

The information and data collected through the Nansen Programme, in particular through surveys with the research vessel are used to produce reports on the state of the fishery resources but are also stored in a database managed by IMR for the benefit of all partners. The available archive contains valuable and scientifically unique information and data on species distribution, abundance, species interactions, environmental conditions and ecosystem characteristics, in many cases describing pristine conditions prior to fisheries development. These provide valuable benchmarks for the development of ecosystem indicators.


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