Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP)


The scope of this Handbook is to:

  • Document concepts that are relevant to fishery and aquaculture statistics
  • Define statistical standards for specialised concepts as adopted by CWP
  • Define statistical standards for concepts that have a wider scope as adopted internationally (mainly UN statistical standards)
  • Review methodological issues that are specific for fishery and aquaculture statistics
  • Define minimum requirements for data collection
  • Define desirable level of information.

The Handbook contains five sections which cover (1) General concepts, (2) Capture fisheries statistics, (3) Aquaculture statistics, (4) Socio-economic dimension, and (5) Tools and resources. The Handbook does not cover the fish processing industry, which is based on fisheries and aquaculture. However, there are examples when it is difficult to distinguish between the industry resources used for fishing or aquaculture and those used for processing the fish, e.g. processing of fish on-board a 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 United Nations 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.

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 that classification. 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 used in the Handbook 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.

Many of the specific CWP-defined-concepts and definitions are applied in a wider context and 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.

Development of the Handbook

The eleventh session of the then Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics (now Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics; CWP) proposed in 1982 that a  Handbook of Fishery Statistics (referred herein as the Handbook) be brought together. The first edition of the Handbook was published in English in 1990 with L.P.D. Gertenbach, M.A. Robinson and David G. Cross as lead editors; the Spanish and French editions of the Handbook followed in 1993 and 1994 respectively. The Handbook included contributions by the secretariats of the CWP Member Agencies (refer background) and covered statistics on capture fisheries. The Handbook was converted to a live document on the CWP website in 1996. Following the establishment of CWP-aquaculture in 2007 (CWP-22) the Handbook chapter on aquaculture statistics was further developed. Further revisions in 2013, 2017 and 2020 were led by the CWP Secretariat and included in particular reviews of the gear classifications plus new sections on ecosystem approach, green accounting and socio-economic statistics. Within the CWP framework, further developments are envisaged including standards for reference harmonization (refer CWP Task Group of Reference Harmonization), fishing activity information and metadata standards for data exchange (e.g. OGC and ISO). These developments share the objective to harmonize common dataset structures and metadata to facilitate data reporting and exchange among data agencies at national, regional and global levels. The developments also align the Handbook with the related frameworks developed for the Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS) and Global Record of Stocks and Fisheries (GRSF).