The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has revealed that sustainable fisheries and aquaculture play a crucial role in food and nutrition security.
Fisheries and aquaculture according to the report is a source of income for 55 million people, thus providing for the livelihoods of millions of people.
The body’s latest flagship publication on the state of fisheries and aquaculture highlights the sector’s vital contribution to the world’s well-being and prosperity.
Theworld Fisheries and Aquaculture report reveals that the sector produced a record 128 million tonnes of fish for human food – an average of 18.4 kg per person – providing more than 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their animal protein intake.
“Fisheries and aquaculture play a vital role in the global, national and rural economy,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “The livelihoods of 12 percent of the world’s population depend directly or indirectly on them.
Fisheries and aquaculture give an important contribution to food security and nutrition. They are the primary source of protein for 17 percent of the world’s population and nearly a quarter in low-income food-deficit countries.”
Árni M. Mathiesen, head of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, said: “Fisheries and aquaculture are making a vital contribution to global food security and economic growth. However, the sector faces an array of problems, including poor governance, weak fisheries management regimes, conflicts over the use of natural resources, the persistent use of poor fishery and aquaculture practices.
“And it is further undermined by a failure to incorporate the priorities and rights of small-scale fishing communities and the injustices relating to gender discrimination and child labour.”
FAO is urging governments to make every effort to ensure sustainable fisheries around the world. The report notes that many of the marine fish stocks monitored by FAO remain under great pressure.
According to the latest statistics available, almost 30 percent of these fish stocks are overexploited – a slight decrease from the previous two years, about 57 percent are fully exploited and only about 13 percent are non-fully exploited.
“Overexploitation not only causes negative ecological consequences, but it also reduces fish production, which leads to negative social and economic consequences,” the report says. “To increase the contribution of marine fisheries to the food security, economies and the well-being of coastal communities, effective management plans must be put in place to rebuild overexploited stocks”.
Strengthened governance and effective fisheries management are required. The report argues that promoting sustainable fishing and fish farming can provide incentives for wider ecosystem stewardship and advocates enabling mechanisms such as the adoption of an ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture with fair and responsible tenure systems.
Global fish production
Capture fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 148 million tonnes of fish in 2010 valued at US$217.5 billion.
Production growth from aquaculture keeps outpacing population growth, and it is one of the fastest-growing animal food-producing sectors – trends that are set to continue.
Fish and fishery products are among the most-traded food commodities worldwide. Following a drop in 2009, world trade in fish and fishery products has resumed its upward trend driven by sustained demand, trade liberalisation policies, globalisation of food systems and technological innovations.