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FAO initiates the Fourth Round of Global Review
of Fishing Fleet Performance

Marine capture fisheries play an important role in national employment, income generation and foreign exchange earnings. To safeguard this role of the marine capture fisheries sector, up-to-date information is needed on the economic and financial health of the sector. Therefore, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and particularly its Fishing Operations and Technology Branch (FIAO-FAO) carried out global reviews to monitor the economic and financial feasibility of the main fishing fleets worldwide and to compare differences in economic performance between fleets and over time within fleets. The Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO) is assisting FAO in conducting the fourth round of the Global Review.

Mr Raymon van Anrooy, Fishery Industry Officer of FAO said that “previous reviews carried out during 1997-2003 showed for instance that older vessels fishing on overexploited stocks were those with limited profits or losses. At that time, FAO estimated that nearly 25 percent of the global fish stocks were overfished. The latest figures suggest that now some 33 percent of the globally targeted fishing stocks are overfished. The consequences for the global fishing fleet productivity in 2016, consisting of about 4.6 million vessels (grown from 4.1 million vessels in 2000) and their profitability is yet unknown”. Mr Van Anrooy further added that the so called ‘smart FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices)’ that communicate via satellite with the vessels are changing the fisheries sector. Particularly, pelagic fishing has changed from a fishing sector to a highly efficient harvesting sector, where fishing vessel captains largely know when they go out to sea how much they are likely to catch and where exactly.

Mr Yugraj Singh Yadava, Director, BOBP-IGO, said that “technological advances have increased fishing efficiency tremendously since the last global review of fishing fleets in 2003. Technologies such as GPS and Fishfinders are now widely applied by industrial and small-scale fisheries sector. Question is whether the increased fishing efficiency has led to increased fleet profitability, or that other fishing related costs, such as fuel and labour costs, have offset the gains from technology.

The experts discussed various methods applied for similar reviews in their countries and agreed on a methodology to be used for the global review by the FAO. The new methodology will be used in upcoming national level studies later this year and a global fleet review report will be published in 2019.

The experts also discussed which major technological innovations in fishing fleets have had impact on fleet profitability in the last 10 years. The meeting discussed advances that have led to cost reductions and energy savings, increases in fishing efficiency, reductions in the ecological impact of capture fisheries, as well as improvements in fish handling, product quality and food safety, safety at sea and working conditions of fishers.

The Expert Meeting concluded that:

  • The techno-economic fishing fleet performance reviews provide important information for fisheries authorities, investors, financial institutions and development partners involved in fisheries.

  • The number of countries that collect and analyse socio-economic information on fisheries and analyse the performance of their fishing fleets has increased rapidly over the last decade, particularly in the European Union and the USA.

  • Technological advances have increased fishing efficiency tremendously since the last FAO global review of fishing fleets in 2003. Technologies such as GPS and Fishfinders are now widely applied by industrial, small-scale and recreational fisheries, and smart FADs, which are communicating via satellite with the vessels, are changing the fisheries sector. Improvements in vessel fuel efficiency, vessel design, communication, fish processing on-board and bycatch reduction devices also have major positive effects on the profitability of the fishing fleets.

  • The meeting agreed on the data to be collected in surveys for the global review of the techno-economic performance of fishing fleets and financial and economic indicators to be applied in the analysis.

  • The meeting also agreed to include in the global review the main fisheries of approximately 18-20 countries, representing a substantial part of the global marine fish landings.

It further recommended that the Governments:

  • Should increase their efforts to ensure that fisheries socio-economic data and information are collected and shared, particularly to monitor the economic and financial feasibility of their fishing fleets.

  • Should look into the previous global techno-economic fleet performance reports of 1990s and early 2000s to compare the current performance levels with those of the same fisheries previously.

  • Should also consider capturing information on investments in safety at sea, environmentally sustainable gears and technologies, and the impact of innovations in technologies on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Governments are also requested to use the information from the past and the present global techno-economic performance reviews to facilitate implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity (IPOA-Capacity), which was adopted by the FAO Committee on Fisheries in 1999.

The Expert Meeting requested FAO to:

  • Carry out global review studies on fishing fleet performance every 5 years, covering major fishing fleets.

  • Harmonize methodologies for surveying economic performance of the fishing fleets. Harmonization is important to enable comparison between fleets. It should also consider the terminology used and indicators applied for performance review.

The Global Review will allow FAO to make general statements about the economic health of the world’s fishing fleets and inform the public on the status and trends in techno-economic performance of the various fleets. The updated methodology will enable others to replicate the surveys in their own countries and with their own fleets, and see how they compare with the global trend.More information on the progress of the global techno-economic performance review can be obtained from Raymon.VanAnrooy@fao.org; rmukherjee@bobpigo.org
















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