Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP)


The eleventh session of the Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics (CWP) proposed in 1982 that a “Handbook of fishery statistics” be brought together and the first edition of the Handbook (in English) was published in 1990 with L.P.D. Gertenbach, M.A. Robinson and David G. Cross as lead editors. The Handbook included contributions by the secretariats of the CWP Member Agencies (CCAMLR, EUROSTAT, FAO, ICCAT, ICSEAF, ICES, NAFO and OECD – for acronyms see here). Spanish and French editions of the Handbook followed in 1993 and 1994 respectively. This first Handbook mostly covered statistics on capture fisheries. Following the establishment of CWP-aquaculture at the CWP-22 meeting in 2007 the Handbook chapter on aquaculture has been enlarged and rewritten. The Handbook is now in four separate sections (1) General Concepts, (2) Capture fisheries including catch and effort statistics, (3) Aquaculture statistics (aquaculture inputs and outputs and production units), and (4) statistics on socio-economics of fisheries (gross value of the landings, total costs of fishing and employment). The Handbook is divided in three main sections one on Capture fisheries, another on Aquaculture and finally the General Concepts and Socio-economic statistics that are of common concern to both activities.

Fisheries and aquaculture provides raw material for the fish processing industry. However this industry is not covered by this Handbook although there are examples when it is difficult to distinguish between the resources used for the fishing operations and those used for processing the fish, e.g. processing of fish on-board the fishing vessel.

Statistics on fisheries and aquaculture are based on the same concepts and definitions that are used for national statistics. Definitions are agreed by the UN Statistical Commission which is the highest decision-making body for international statistical activities especially the setting of statistical standards, the development of concepts and methods and their implementation at the national and international level. See here.

The International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) is a United Nations system for classifying economic data and the socio-economic data should be consistent with the classifications. ISIC is a basic tool for studying economic phenomena, fostering international comparability of data, providing guidance for the development of national classifications and for promoting the development of sound national statistical systems.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards. Codes and several other identifiers are defined through the ISO.

CWP supplements these definitions for concepts that are specific for fisheries and aquaculture statistics and the Handbook is the documentation of this work.

The Scope of the Handbook is:

  • Documenting concepts that are relevant for fisheries and aquaculture statistics
  • Statistical standards for specialised concepts as adopted by CWP
  • Statistical standards for concepts that have a wider scope as adopted internationally (mainly UN Statistical standards)
  • Review of methodological issues that are specific for fisheries and aquaculture statistics
  • Defining minimum requirements for data collection
  • Defining desirable level of information

Many of the specific CWP-defined-concepts and definitions are applied in a wider context but the user is advised to check the validity of such applications.

In its efforts to develop useful and practical systems, the CWP is consistently keeping these standards under review and welcomes the comments of the national authorities on the application of these international standards at the national level.

The CWP Handbook was converted to a live document on the CWP website in 1996 and was renamed "Handbook of fishery statistical standards". The CWP Handbook was revised in 2012-2013 and then concluded in 2016-2017. The revision was led by the FAO secretariat. This revision included in particular reviews of the gear classifications plus new sections on ecosystem, green accounting and socio-economic statistics.