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Inland Fishing Could Help Reduce Poverty

by 5m Editor
4 February 2011, at 12:00am

SOUTH AFRICA - The country is missing out on the opportunity to develop its inland fisheries industry which could help poverty alleviation and food security.

Based on a nw report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Business Day of South Africa reports that at the moment, most inland fisheries focus on recreational fishing, rather than commercial production.

In its report, State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2010, released this week, the FAO said that fishing for pleasure or competition contributed to local and national economies through employment in secondary sectors.

However, a lot more could be achieved if there were policies to encourage modern small-scale fisheries to produce high-value products for local and international markets.

The report said the supply of fish as human food hit a record high in 2008, "underlining its significance in contributing to food security and nutrition as a source of high-quality, affordable animal protein".

"International trade in fish also topped previous values, pointing to the sector’s continued important contribution to economic expansion and human well-being," the report said.

Recreational fishing was a popular activity and pastime in many developed countries , particularly in Western Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, the report said. This was a growing trend in some developing markets such as Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand.

It explored the important, yet often underestimated role of inland fisheries in many small communities where they could make a vital contribution to poverty alleviation.

Gerrie van der Merwe, fish farmer and founding member of the National Aquaculture Association, told Business Day that marine fishing was facing real challenges because of declining stocks, and the government could be pivotal in growing aquaculture fishing to help salvage the situation.

Unfortunately, the D partments of Water Affairs and Agriculture did not realise the urgency with which they needed to consolidate regulations, he said. The regulation of South Africa's inland water resources such as dams and rivers would balance the needs of aquaculture, water consumption, plant and stock farming, as well as mining and industrial requirements.

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5m Editor