Inland fisheries – the network of lakes, rivers and streams that provide fish and freshwater to millions across the world – need to be better managed in order to safeguard their contribution to healthy diets and economies, particularly in developing countries.
These are among the key recommendations of international experts at the Global Conference in Rome this week. During the event, leading researchers in the field of fisheries and water management, along with indigenous peoples groups, warned that a dearth of data and sound policies means development decisions fail to take into account adverse impacts on inland fisheries.
Lakes and rivers are an essential source of protein, micronutrients, vitamins and fats for diets, particularly in developing countries, where more than 60 million people rely on them for their livelihood. Some 71 low-income countries currently produce nearly 7 million tonnes a year, or 80 percent of global inland captures.
But these waters are often impacted by other human needs, including energy creation, tourism and competition for freshwater.
“Inland fisheries provide a valuable but often overlooked source of nutrition and employment around the world,” said Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director General in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. “But to date, the international effort to effectively integrate inland fisheries into the broader development agenda has fallen short of what is needed.”
Globally, some 70 percent of available freshwater supplies are currently used for agriculture. Pollution and the building of hydro-electric dams and channels further impacts the availability and quality of inland waters that are home to diverse types of fish.
Photo Credit: FAO/Giulio Napolitano