Adjusting for Context in Evaluating National Fisheries Statistics Reporting Systems

D. Pauly, R. Watson, (2008). “Adjusting for Context in Evaluating National Fisheries Statistics Reporting Systems,” Fisheries Centre Research Report No. 16 (Fisheries Centre, Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).

Fisheries management requires detailed catch time series. Thus, the effectiveness of countries’ reporting system can be, in part, evaluated by the taxonomic resolution of the data they submit to annually to Food and Agriculture of the United Nation (FAO). However, the fish and invertebrate faunas in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of these countries differ widely, as do the species that are exploited and considered important enough to be reported in fisheries statistics.

To adjust for the difference, an index of reporting performance was devised which is based, for each country, on the ratio of the reported taxa (numerators) relative to the number of commercial taxa whose distribution overlaps with at least 10% of its EEZ (denominator). Commercial marine taxa of fish or invertebrates are here defined as species, genera, families or higher group reported in the catch of at least one country in the FAO database, for any year from 1950 to the present. The result is a new Context-Adjusted Fisheries Statistics Indicator (STATrep).

Using the STATrep, New Zealand, Portugal and the US are the three countries that are performing best, while the worst performing countries are a group of mainly developing countries much of their catches as ‘miscellaneous fishes’, e.g., Myanmar. However, the STATrep appears to overcome the developed vs. developing country dichotomy, with e.g., Senegal, in West Africa, ranking 12th of 53.

The STATrep also appears to be suitable for tracking changes in the effectiveness of national fisheries reporting systems, except perhaps for countries with very small EEZs. This should, however, not affect the 53 countries that are being compared here, and which jointly account for 95 % of the world marine fisheries catch.