Small-scale artisanal fisheries are fundamentally important to many poor coastal and rural communities, providing important sources of protein, income and employment. In spite of their importance, cost-effective mechanisms for the collection and sharing of data and information to develop and sustain the (co-) management of these fisheries are conspicuously lacking in most developing countries. A particular constraint is the complex and dispersed nature of the fisheries and the general paucity of resources and institutional capacity for assessment and management.
Previous FMSP programme development activities have identified a significant demand for improved data collection mechanisms that this project seeks to address, particularly for widely-dispersed, small-scale artisanal fisheries.
This project aimed to develop guidelines for designing cost-effective data collection and sharing mechanisms to improve the (co-) management of fishery resources through participatory research involving key stakeholders, including poor fishers. By ensuring that the project outputs were demand-driven, the likelihood of their uptake by target institutions was maximised.
Five stages were involved, with a project planning workshop held initially, during which it was decided that guidelines for data collection and sharing for co-management should be generic. Literature reviews and discussions with local fisher communities (user requirements analysis) were then carried out to identify system requirements, and a workshop was held to design and finalise proposals for cost-effective mechanisms of data collection and sharing. Field evaluation followed, carried out within existing co-management programmes involving local fisher communities and Department of Fisheries' staff. Finally, dissemination and promotion of guidelines was carried out via a number of channels.
This project has developed: 'Guidelines for Designing Data Collection and Sharing Systems for Co-Managed Fisheries' for helping co-managers at all management levels design and implement cost effective and appropriate data collection and sharing systems to support the co-management of their resources.
The guidelines are structured to address four key questions: 1) who needs data collection systems, and 2) why (i.e. for what purposes), 3) what data needs to be collected to generate this information and 4) how might you design a data collection system that meets the needs of relevant stakeholders? Guideline content was shaped by demand expressed within 14 System Requirement Reports (SRRs) produced by project partners and target institutions representing four levels of management (local, national, regional and international), by means of literature review, and consultations and discussion with relevant stakeholders. The process of developing the guidelines, particularly through the compilation of the SRRs has helped build capacity of the projects' collaborators and that of their own partners.
The guidelines have subsequently been improved, through further field-testing under a follow-on project entitled: R8462 'Evaluation and uptake promotion of data collection guidelines for co-managed fisheries' and published by the FAO.