Representatives from across the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Member States gathered at the Levatio Hotel in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman on 29-30 October 2019, for the Workshop on Biennial Review of IORA Fisheries & Aquaculture Sector - “Harmonization of Fisheries and Aquaculture Information System in the IORA Member States” to advance knowledge through the sharing of experience and best practices in fisheries and aquaculture data collection, management and analysis.
The workshop was jointly organised by the IORA Fisheries Support Unit (FSU), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth of Oman, in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Rim Association. The workshop saw the participation of 15 IORA Member States and experts from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) and Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) that were all grouped on a common platform to share best practices and experience on fisheries and aquaculture data collection, management and analysis, as well as to explore the possibility of having a standardised method for the same and to have a fisheries and aquaculture information system for IORA Member States.
E. Dr. Saud Bin Hamood Al-Habsi, The Undersecretary of Fisheries Wealth of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth graced the inauguration by his presence. In her opening speech, Dr Lubna Al-Kharusi, Director of the FSU, highlighted the importance of data collection as an essential tool for making decisions and for managing various aspects in the fishing sector. However, she pointed out that the information system on fisheries and aquaculture activities in IORA region are fragmented and uncoordinated. She further stressed on the need to properly develop and manage fisheries sector in IORA countries, through a standardised method of data collection, management and analysis. In his remark, Dr Gatot Gunawan, Director of the IORA, stated that the fisheries and aquaculture sectors are facing a wide range of challenges and with the continuous increase in the demand of fisheries and aquaculture products, there is a need to ensure the sustainability of these sectors and its industry. He also emphasised on the importance of having a fisheries and aquaculture information system. Dr Gatot also informed participants about the First Meeting of the Working Group on Blue Economy (WGBE) that would be held on 5-6 December 2019 and that Indonesia will also be hosting the Fisheries Management Cluster Group Meeting soon.
The challenges and opportunities of the participating Member States fisheries statistics, the lesson learnt and best practices on Fisheries Data Collection, management and analysis, Fisheries Stock Assessment in the IORA region, the strategy and methods for Fisheries Data Collection and Management were discussed during the 2-day programme. Participants and experts also discussed on the possibility of having a standardised method and procedures for fisheries data collection, management and analysis in the Indian Ocean rim region and developing a biennial review of fisheries and aquaculture report for Member States.
The deliberations of the above topics were substantiated through the intervention of the experts and the key recommendations of the event included inter alia the need: to monitor/survey on status of data collection in every IORA Members States; for more capacity building and increase in trained human resources for data collection and analysis; to develop new and harmonized multispecies web-based database for processing and analysis of statistical data, to promote collaboration and involvement of relevant stakeholders from data collection to dissemination; to develop a central digital database for fisheries statistics; and to use information technology for fisheries data reporting by fishers; among others.
In her closing remarks, Dr Lubna Al-Kharusi, the Director of the IORA Fisheries Support Unit, congratulated the delegates from IORA Member States and experts for their active participation during the workshop. She further thanked delegates for sharing knowledge and experience in the fisheries and aquaculture data collection, management and analysis. She also expressed her gratitude to the organiser, as well as the IORA Secretariat who contributed to the success of the event.
On behalf of the IORA, Dr Gatot, the Director extended his gratitude to the Government of the Government of the Sultanate of Oman for the excellent arrangements made for the workshop and thanked the delegates for their participations. He pointed out that the workshop gave rise to valuable discussions and recommendations as way forwards to the improve data collection, management and analysis of fisheries and aquaculture data.