Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP)

History of the Coordinating Working Party

1959 - The Edinburgh meeting

An expert meeting on fishery statistics in the North Atlantic area (Edinburgh, Scotland, 22–29 September 1959) was organized to establish requirements for fishery statistics for the North Atlantic; sponsored by FAO, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the International Commission for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF – which was the predecessor to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization - NAFO), the meeting recommended definitions and classifications, as well as the coordination of statistics collection among various international organizations. Seventy participants and observers from 14 countries and international organizations attended the meeting.

The continuing working party, put forward as a consequence of the Edinburgh meeting, was referred to as the "CWP" from the beginning.

1959 - Establishment of the CWP

At its Tenth Session in 1959, the FAO Conference adopted Resolution 23/59, under which the Conference: (i) noted with satisfaction that the Edinburgh Meeting had, "agreed on recommendations to governments and international organizations designed to improve and considerably simplify the collection and reporting of fishery statistics in the North Atlantic area"; and (ii) accepted that "FAO should transmit its report to the governments and international organizations concerned, with the request that they consider implementation of the recommendations contained in it."

As part of the same Resolution the Conference agreed that the Working Party, "should consist of: one government expert nominated by each of the Governments of Canada, Germany, Iceland and the United Kingdom; one expert nominated by the Secretary-General of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and another by the Executive Secretary of the International Commission of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries; one expert nominated by the FAO Director-General, and such additional experts as may be nominated by the Working Party itself". Finally, the Resolution authorized and requested that, "the Director-General establish the Working Party in accordance with Article VI of the FAO Constitution, and arrange for the FAO Fisheries Division to function as secretariat for the Working Party." Subsequently, ICES and ICNAF agreed to participate in and support the CWP, with the four national governments agreeing to provide experts to participate.

1968 - Modification of the title and composition of CWP

After five sessions, discussions took place within the CWP – as well as ICNAF, ICES and the FAO Committee on Fisheries – on how to "rotate and widen participation" in the CWP sessions. At its Fifty-first Session the FAO Council  altered the title of the Working Party to the Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics (also abbreviated to CWP; 1968, Resolution 1/51) and decided that it would be "... composed of experts; with FAO, ICES and ICNAF each appointing up to four experts in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures". The FAO Council also: (i) confirmed that as far as FAO was concerned the CWP was a working party of experts established under Article VI-2 of the Constitution; (ii) authorized the FAO Director-General, in accordance with Article VI-3 of the Constitution, to determine the terms of reference of the CWP in agreement with ICES and ICNAF, and to promulgate amended statutes to reflect the contents of the present resolutions; and (iii) agreed that FAO should continue to provide the secretariat services for the Working Party.

1976–1993 - Various proposals for interorganizational coordination in relation to global fishery statistics

During this period several discussions took place, either during informal meetings or plenary sessions, to expand the areas now covered by the CWP beyond the Atlantic, and to extend its membership and area of activity to cover the world's seas, given the urgent need for coordination in some of the other oceans. However, several participants felt that if the CWP was to make such a change the consequent diversification would overload it to a point where it would no longer be able to function effectively.

1995 - Reconstitution of the CWP

The CWP was reconstituted in 1995 so as to allow it to respond more effectively to the increasing demands for reliable fishery statistics, including those resulting from the 1995 UN Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, as well as the 1993 Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which is voluntary in character. The new Statutes were adopted by the FAO Council at its Hundred and Eighth Session in June 1995 and the Rules of Procedure by the Sixteenth Session of CWP (Madrid, 20-25 March 1995).

With the remit of the reconstituted CWP no longer limited to the Atlantic, several additional regional fishery bodies became CWP participating organizations: SPC and IWC joined in 1997, CCSBT in 1998, IOTC in 1999 and IATTC in 2000 (see full list).

2016 - present

To date, the Working Party has held 25 sessions since 1960, generally meeting approximately every three years. Dates and locations of all Sessions are shown here.