Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How important are fish?

200 million Africans eat fish regularly and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that fish provides 22% of the protein intake in Sub-Saharan Africa.

When I was in Mexico last spring the local fisherman were saying a fish in the ocean was worth more than a fish on a plate. I think there needs to be a coversation about integrated fisheries management for tourism and protein supply. I wonder what John Whitehead has to say about this? I guess I will ask him.

8 comments:

Thomas Gift said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Gift said...

The fishing industry is certainly one of the primary sources of income and food for many of the world's countries located near bodies of water. Unfortunately, a recent report by the UK government predicts that global supplies of fish could become essentially nonexistant within 50 years. This prediction is driven largely by factors of ecological degradation and climate change that have grown increasingly salient over the past decades. With the lifeblood of such an important industry literally hanging in the balance, it's imperative that concerned cohorts - individuals, NGOS, governments, supranational agencies, etc. - find ways to reverse this trend in the global fish stock before it's too late.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6113156.stm

adamk said...

Actions have been taken to help ameliorate the problem of diminishing fisheries. Similar to permit systems I do know that at least on the Long Island Sound and probably elsewhere, there are certain types of fish where you can only keep them if they are over a certain length. This helps keep the total number of fish up, while providing little cost. As always though, there are problems because it is very hard to enforce and it may be impossible to determine the right size for different bodies of water. However, I still believe it is a good start.

Kris Brake said...

This article indicates that the extinction of some species of fish is inevitable if commercial fleets are not banned entirely from at risk bodies of water. Extinction of certain types of fish will in turn disrupt the balance of the entire aquatic ecosystem. The problem here lies in the fact that huge numbers of people rely on the fishing industry for their income as well as their nutrition and overall health. Something must be done. Command and control actions would be difficult to enact in this situation due to the high cost of monitoring the fishing habits in these areas. Regardless, the only control that would supposedly "work" is a complete ban of fishing in these areas. It seems to me as if this is highly unlikely to take place. Alternatively, it is imperative that a globally developed method of preserving these fish species be developed. Governments must provide incentives for less fishing, which starts with offering other means of nutrition. The continued development of African infastruction at a rapid pace could help lessen the role of fish in the growth of the country. As is obvious at this point, the task is daunting.

Anonymous said...

I believe this analysis is not taking into consideration the key variable--the human variable. People in this region of Africa are fishing for survival. Little too nothing can they AFFORD to care about environmental protection (even if its for their benefit in the long run). As I see it, the only way a fishery program can succeed is by institutionalizing all costs and creating mechanisms to keep this increase in cost from reaching the worker of the region. Failure to do so will lead to unemployment, ultimately disrupting the social balance of the region. If this were to happen, strikes and other means of protest will ultimately bring any project to its knees.
Adolfo

sarah tilbor said...

While I understand that there is a necessity for nutrition within these developing country, I also believe that it can be done in a sustainable fashion. Fishing companies waste huge amounts of fish that are not large enough to sell. They catch the fish in mass quantities and then dispose of those fish that are not of value to them. But the small fish have been out of the water long enough so that they are already dead. I think that if these fishing companies were able to catch only what they would use, the problem would be solved. This may not be the most efficient way of obtaining a catch. But in the long run it will leave the fisheries replenished. And only the large, older fish will be caught - so the young can reproduce. What a beautiful circle of life!

Felix said...

Aquaculture as presented here seems to be a lovely idea to address this problem. We should however not loose sight of some limitations of aquaculture. For instance, given our current circumstances where most people prefered carnivorous fishes to herbivorous ones, aquaculture will have to produce carnivorous fishes to meet the market demand. This type of production will thus come at the expense of herbivorous fishes from the oceans. Though aquaculture has a potential of addressing this problem, more research will have to be conducted into its impacts on productivity of natural waterbodies.
Also, highly subsidized vessels from Europe and the West that fish in waters of impoverished regions like Africa should be banned while allowing those dependent on it for their survival to use them in a controlled way e.g. through the use of quotas. This will reduce the pressure on such water. resources.

Tacita said...

You write very well.