La pêche continentale

Inland capture fishery statistics of Southeast Asia: Current status and information needs

Overview of inland fisheries

Inland capture fisheries in Southeast Asia are characterised by great diversity in the range of gears used, types of environments in which they are used and the socially and culturally complex societies within which they operate. This presents unique problems for the collection of inland fisheries statistics. This report assesses the quality and relevance of existing statistics on inland capture fisheries and the extent to which the statistics meet management objectives. The report suggests ways in which the existing statistics might be improved through cost-effective means and explores the information needs for inland capture fisheries.

Based upon the statistics currently available, there is no apparent trend of declining production for any country (except possibly for the Philippines, less so for VietNam). This is somewhat at odds with the frequently expressed view that inland capture fisheries are in terminal decline, and illustrates that the perceptions of these fisheries are not influenced by the available statistical information. This seriously questions the purpose and value of inland fishery statistics. Inland capture fisheries are clearly seriously under-reported in all of the countries reviewed. The discrepancy between officially reported catches (where available) and estimates based upon independent scientifically based surveys (i.e. collection of actual data), varies by a factor of between 4.2 and 21.4. Overall, for all the countries combined, the total reported production from inland waters appears to be under-estimated by a factor of between at least 2.5 and 3.6

Participation in inland capture fisheries is very high, but adequate information on this is rarely collected. Most fishers are not licensed and operate on a part-time or seasonal basis. Large numbers of people are also involved in processing, marketing, transportation and other service sectors. Where information exists, it suggests that participation in inland fisheries might equal that in marine fisheries and possibly exceeds that in aquaculture by a factor of at least three times.

In many countries, “statistics” are compiled because they are requested or demanded by central government. The actual purpose of these statistics is often uncertain and countries are reluctant to admit to FAO, and even within or between their own agencies, the true nature of the information reported. Consequently, the “statistics” reported are often taken as factual and are accorded unwarranted authority. A wide variety of methods are used by the countries covered in this review, to estimate inland capture fisheries production. There are also widespread suspected, unofficially recognized or officially confirmed, differences between the official systems in place and actual practice. This report makes recommendations as to what information is appropriate for inland fisheries management and strategies for obtaining the required information.