Co-management, where the responsibility for management is shared between the major stakeholders is increasingly recognised as being an effective strategy to redress many of the paradigm failures associated with more conventional 'top-down' approaches to management. However, regardless of the nature of co-management arrangements, effective management relies heavily on processed information from the fishery. Fisheries Information Management Systems (FIMS) or databases provide an efficient means to hold and process information collected from fisheries.
Although the FAO have developed their own generic FIMS, which has been widely adopted in Africa for management of artisanal lake fisheries, it is somewhat inflexible, centred on collection of catch and effort data and contains no functions to support co-management. A demand therefore remained for artisanal FIMS.
Generic information requirements to support the main co-management roles of fisheries departments were identified from literature reviews and case studies of fisheries in Bangladesh and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Generic inputs (fields) to support these requirements were identified from common data fields found in survey forms and databases.
It was concluded that government fisheries departments should be the primary targets because they will usually have overall administrative responsibility for the (co-) management of national fisheries resources. They are also the most likely stakeholder group to possess the necessary institutional capacity and resources to formally monitor management performance and therefore most likely to require such a system.
Generic FIMS software to support the co-management roles and corresponding data and information requirements was developed using relational database and systems engineering theory. An architecture was developed that allowed the system to support a variety of different catch and effort sampling strategies.
The project succeeded in examining the feasibility of developing a generic database to support the co-management of artisanal fisheries. Prototype software entitled 'PISCES - Providing Information for Socio-Economic Catch and Effort Fisheries Surveys' was developed to store, process and analyse a wide range of data and information collected using common methodologies to support fundamental co-management roles of fisheries departments.
The system, designed to run under Microsoft Access97, comprises a set of linked reference and survey tables, and data entry forms, using new methods for defining, linking, plotting and exporting analyses according to user choices. It is able to store and support the evaluation of national and community management plans; store fisheries catch and effort and biological data; store socio economic data and support estimation of parameters such as economic rent, average per capita consumption; support control and surveillance activities by storing information relating to vessel/fisher registration and identification details and licence/quota information.
All the data contained within the database can be stratified by more than 5 criteria, spatially referenced, grouped by 40 attributes and either plotted in a variety of formats or exported in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format. A user manual with a technical reference has been produced to accompany the PISCES software.