The Importance Of Inland Fisheries

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
26 October 2010, at 1:00am

GENERAL - The vital importance of inland fisheries to the diet, incomes and livelihoods of people in developing economies is brought into sharp focus in a new report launched earlier this week.

Globally rivers and lakes are providing 13 million tonnes of fish annually with the true figure perhaps as much as 30 million tonnes due to under reporting of catches.

These inland fisheries are generating 60 million full and part time jobs in fishing and other activities such as processing with over half these jobs carried out by women.

Close to 70 per cent of the total inland catch is in Asia with 25 per cent in Africa and around four per cent in Latin America. Much is consumed domestically underlining the critical importance to the people and economies of the developing world.

The new report, compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Fish Centre, also highlights the wide ranging importance of inland fisheries in diet, and especially among children, above and beyond the supply of protein.

"Even more important in many countries (than protein) is the role of inland fisheries in supplying micronutrients, especially vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc," says the report Blue Harvest: Inland Fisheries as an Ecosystem Service.

"Detailed studies in Bangladesh for example have shown that daily consumption of small fish contributes 40 per cent of the total daily household requirement of vitamin A and 31 per cent of calcium," adds the study whose findings were launched at the 10th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity taking place in Nagoya, Japan.

As well as providing nutritional benefits, fish also play a key role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. Their consumption of plankton, plants, insects, and other fish is critical to the stability and resilience of river and lake habitats.