A new report provides “the first global review of the value of inland fish and fisheries,” which is often under-reported and ignored.
Inland waters (from lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and other land-locked waters) account for less than 0.01% of the world’s water. Yet aquaculture and inland capture fisheries together make up more than 40% of the world’s reported fish production, excluding shellfish.
“Inland capture fisheries and aquaculture are fundamental to food security globally,” Abigail Lynch, a fisheries research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and an adjunct professor at Michigan State University, explained in a news release. “In many areas of the world, these fisheries are a last resort when primary income sources fail due to, for instance, economic shifts, war, natural disasters and water development projects.”
According to the review, inland fisheries support at least 21 million fishers. Many of these fishers live in low-income nations and depend on the food not only for a livelihood but also for subsistence.
Despite the importance of inland fisheries, they are rarely recognized as the “powerhouse” for food security that they are. The review authors note this is likely due to underreporting of harvest amounts, which is a big problem in developing nations and remote areas. This lack of data leads to fisheries being undervalued and left out of resource planning efforts on both national and global scales.
“What is of great concern is that more than half of the inland fisheries’ habitat is moderately or highly threatened, so populations may be lost even before they are documented,” said Steve Cooke, second author from Carleton University.
Michigan State researchers are working with other fisheries experts and advocates to “push inland fisheries into the spotlight” and gain the recognition they need.
To learn more:
- Read the MSU news release: Inland fisheries determined to surface as food powerhouse
- Read the full review: The social, economic, and environmental importance of inland fish and fisheries
Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.