UNESCO GRÓ-Fisheries Training Programme



ARAM Specialist Line – Aquatic Resource Assessment and Monitoring


Head of Specialist Line Jónas Páll Jónasson

Overseen by Mary Frances Davidson (FTP Deputy Director)


Course Description


The Aquatic Resource Assessment and Monitoring course uses statistics and modelling in connection with fishing gear and technology to assess status of aquatic resources and harvested stocks. The aim of the course is to provide fellows with a good understanding of fish catching methods and how they interact with fish behaviour, along with an in-depth knowledge on common stock assessment methods and their application. Depending on the fellows’ backgrounds and future project the course splits up after three weeks into stock assessment or fishing technology module.


In the stock assessment module, the fellows gain practical experience working with data, designing research, sampling design, collection and management of data, and applying various stock assessment methodologies.


In the fishing technology module, the fellows will gain both theoretical and practical skills in gear design and construction, the ability to understand blueprints and standards within the field, and basic understanding of fishing vessels and gear design and use. On completion fellows should be better able to communicate and work with researchers within their field such as fisheries managers, gear manufacturers, gear scientists.


The course is delivered through a series of formal lectures and case studies, building practical experience not only working with data, programming and the use of R statistical software, but also in the field and in net making, depending on modules. Fellows are encouraged to contribute their personal expertise and work with their own data when appropriate.


Course Organisation


The specialist course is the second module in the six-month Fisheries Training Programme, following the 5-week introductory course and concluding with the initiation of the 14-week research module. It takes 6 weeks, and includes

  • Joint Stock Assessment and Fishing Technology teaching module (approx. 3 weeks)
  • Fellows specialize in the Stock Assessment module or Fishing Technology module (approx. 3 weeks)


Specialist Line Aims and Learning Outcomes


The aims of the FPM specialist line are to provide the fellows with:


  • good understanding of fish catching methods and how they interact with fish behaviour
  • in-depth knowledge of common stock assessment methods and their application


This course contributes to FTP´s 6-month programme by helping the fellows achieve the following Learning Outcomes:


Stock Assessment Learning Outcomes

  • acquire practical experience of working with data and designing research
  • design sampling programmes
  • experience in management of data and working with databases
  • design and plan research
  • apply various stock assessment methodologies
  • gain familiarity with statistical software


Fishing Technology Learning Outcomes

  • gain both practical and theoretical skills in netmaking and gear construction
  • ability to understand blueprints and standards within the field
  • basic understanding of fishing vessels and gear use
  • ability to both communicate and work with gear manufacturers, gear scientists and researchers


Learning Resources


Recommended Resources:

Course material is mostly based on lectures and recommended research papers, but fellows are encouraged to read and general fisheries textbooks.


Hardware and Software:

R programming language within R-studio environment.

Excel or similar spreadsheets.


Learning Activities


During this course, fellows are likely to experience the following activities:

  • Lectures and demonstrations
  • Hybrid learning activities (exercises, self-study, presentation of case studies)
  • Class discussions
  • Presentations
  • Site visits
  • Assignments
  • Reading lists



Predefined Evaluation/Project Work


The course is based upon assessment of the fellow´s performance and work during the formal teaching module and evaluation of the proposal describing their final project work.


Formal teaching (6 weeks)

Evaluation during the teaching module is based on (a) attendance (b) performance and participation in classes, and (c) quality of completed assignments.

On occasion an additional week is added at the discretion of the FTP for further site visits, case studies or practical training activities. In this case, the final research phase is shortened by one week.


Teaching modules and lecture topics


Weeks 1 - 2: Fish catching methods, fish behaviour, gear design and rigging (30 hrs)

  • Fish-catching methods
  • Fishing gear design
  • Fishing gear rigging
  • Gear selectivity
  • Standardised sampling gear


Weeks 1 - 3: Methodologies for data collection, management, and analysis (30 hrs)

  • Life history
  • Datamining and data sampling
  • Ageing fish
  • Introduction to statistics
  • Monitoring and estimating biomass trends
  • Freshwater surveys/Trawl surveys
  • Acoustics/Pelagic survey/other methods


Weeks 4 - 6: Stock Assessment module (30 hours per week)

  • Storing and handling data
  • Spatial data and mapping in R
  • Fish biology and population dynamics
  • Stock production models
  • Age structured models
  • ELEFAN and other FAO models
  • Length-based models – Gadget
  • Ecosystem modeling
  • Ecosystem approach to fisheries management


Weeks 4 – 6 Fishing Technology module (30 hours per week)

  • Gear calculations and designing theory
  • Use of computer programmes for calculation and presentation of gear designs
  • Practical training in net-making and maintenance, gear constructions and gear evaluations
  • Fishing vessels and on-board gear handling
  • Fishing methods and fish quality relations
  • Presentations on present state of fishing gear research and development


Additional week 7: Site visits, case studies and practical training activities (e.g. Ísafjörður week)


Total in-class hours: 180 over six weeks. Approximately 30 hours per week.