Fisheries play a vital role in the livelihoods of millions of people and provide the main source of animal protein for nearly one billion people, predominantly in developing countries. Information is key to sound policy making and responsible fisheries management, but many fisheries lack the resources to collect and analyse data for management, such as stock assessments. Stock assessments provide information on sustainable levels of exploitation of fish stocks, helping determine what management measures should be applied to achieve the required outcomes, but there is a lack of methodologies appropriate for data-poor and small-scale fisheries. The FAO Strategy for Improving Information on the Status and Trends of Capture Fisheries recognises the importance of small-scale and multispecies fisheries, particularly in developing countries, and highlights the need for improving data and information for this sector. The use of rapid appraisal methodologies and participatory processes are specifically identified.
The participatory fisheries stock assessment (ParFish) methodology developed under R7947 and R8397, focused on addressing governance and technical issues though provision of improved information for use by dependent stakeholders. It addresses many of the problems of applying stock assessment to small-scale fisheries, by providing a methodology that can be carried out rapidly, does not require long time series of data, and promotes participation. This project revised the methodology and promoted it widely though field testing, a training workshop and communication and promotion activities to increase capacity in its implementation, increase its dissemination and uptake. Field testing was carried out in collaboration with institutions in India, Gabon and Kenya. The software was modified to make transition between different assessment models easier and to enable incorporation of other models such as age-based models at a later date.
The ParFish Toolkit was revised by adding training materials, promotional material including information on case studies, and a revised version of the ParFish Software. The content of the Guidelines and Software manual were not modified. The training workshop, held in India, increased capacity of those involved and resulted in its uptake and application by participants' institutions, as well as providing new training materials which were included in the Toolkit. Project flyers updating stakeholders on progress were produced in March and August 2005. A Synthesis Document summarising key points and lessons learned from ParFish especially in relation to co-management, was produced to raise awareness amongst policy makers, managers, scientists and facilitators.
Communications and promotion activities resulted in interest in the methodology from the European Union and the Fisheries Department of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation which will be explored for further development and promotion of the approach.