GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Indicators for sustainable development of marine capture fisheries

Year published: 1999

These guidelines have been produced to support the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. They relate mainly to Article 7 (Fisheries Management) but also to Articles 6 (General Principles), 8 (Fishing Operations), 10 (Integration of Fisheries into Coastal Area Management), 11 (Post-Harvest Practices and Trade) and 12 (Research). As for the other guidelines, they are addressed primarily to the decision-makers and policy-makers in marine capture fisheries, but should also be useful to fishing companis and fisheries associations, nongovernmental organizations with an interest in sustainable development and fisheries and other groups concerned with fisheries resources.

The guidelines provide general information on the issue of sustainable development of fisheries in order to clarify why a system of indicators is needed to monitor the contribution of fisheries to sustainable development. They are complementary to the Guidelines on Fisheries Management but provide the broader perspective needed for a sectoral and holistic approach to sustainability in fisheries. All dimensions of sustainability (ecological, economic, social, and institutional) are considered as well as the key aspects of the socio-economic environment in which fisheries operate.

The guidelines also provide information on the type of indicators and related reference points needed. However, it is recognized that it is difficult to generalize, and that there is a need to agree on common conventions for the purpose of joint reporting at national, regional and global level, particularly in relation to international fisheries, or transboundary resources.

The guidelines highlight the various frameworks that have been identified and can be used to organize the indicators and reference points, reflecting the objectives, constraints and state of the different elements of the system in a coherent picture. They also include some graphical and other representations that may be of use in conveying the information to policy-makers and to a wider audience. The guidelines outline the process to be followed, at national or regional level, to establish a Sustainable Development Reference System (SDRS) at sub-national, national, or regional level, focussing on the design of the SDRS, its development (including identification of objectives, selection of indicators and reference points), and its implementation, including its testing. Finally, a number of issues are highlighted, related for instance to data needs, cost-effectiveness, institutional requirements, capacity-building, and coordination.

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