UN says tighter controls on genetic resources will aid sustainability

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
12 June 2007, at 1:00am

ROME - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for better policies to conserve fish genetic resources and enhance global food security. Failing to do so will cause adverse environmental and social impacts, warns the FAO.

The agency says that it is the only global body dealing with all genetic resources in agriculture, forestry and fisheries and believes that the lack of coherent management of the world’s fish genetic resources is becoming a serious problem.

It says that most of the world’s fisheries are already at least fully exploited or in decline and their production levels have reached a plateau. By 2030, an additional 40 million tons of fish per year will be needed to meet global demand. Aquaculture, which currently provides 44 per cent of all fish eaten, is a logical and practical way to fill this need.

A paper produced by FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department argues that a successful transition to more responsible, sustainable and productive aquaculture and fisheries will depend largely on effective management of fish genetic resources.

Sustained and safe
FAO is currently taking part in a week-long meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture being held in Rome. This year’s session is the first time the Commission, comprised of 167 countries and the European Union (EU), has tackled the issue of how best to manage the genetic diversity of the planet’s oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, wetlands and fish farms. The ultimate goal is to find sustainable methods of safeguarding their contributions to World food production.

The rapid expansion of aquaculture and the over-exploitation of many fisheries have created environmental problems in some areas of the world and put pressure on natural resources. The FAO hopes that these discussions will bring a greater awareness of the problems and help to avert further environmental and social impacts, conflicts and unsustainability.