FAO is the only intergovernmental organization formally mandated by its constitution to undertake the worldwide collection, compilation, analysis and diffusion of data and information in fisheries and aquaculture. The compilation of accurate, relevant and timely data in a standard form facilitates monitoring, comparisons and analyses of status and trends that are essential to underpin the responsible development of the world's fisheries and aquaculture sectors and the sustainable utilization of the resources. It requires intensive international collaboration and cooperation, an area in which FAO plays a central role.

Since its inception, the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division has built up statistical databases that are publicly accessible. The data is provided by FAO Members and verified from other sources wherever possible. The reliability of the analysis based on the data, and the quality of the advice to which it gives rise, depends on the reliability and quality of the data itself. To this end the FAO seeks to continue supporting and strengthening national capacity in the collecting, analysis and use of accurate, reliable and timely data. In this respect the FAO has a unique role in supporting the management and development of the aquaculture and fishery sectors.

The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division recognizes the importance of internationally agreed methods and tools for data compilation. Thus, for the last five decades, it has cooperated in international efforts directed towards the development of standard concepts, definitions, classifications and methodologies for the collection and collation of fishery statistics, most notably through the Coordinating Working Party on Fisheries Statistics.

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