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Greater cooperation needed to save world fisheries: UN agency

Greater cooperation needed to save world fisheries: UN agency

Better management of marine ecosystems is urgently needed to address the decline in fishery resources, the increased demand for food and the growing pressure by civil society to preserve the environment, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today.

"Without improving the management regimes in place, there is concern that more fish stocks could become overfished," the agency said in a statement issued in Rome. "Therefore it is imperative that scientists, governments, policymakers and industry work together to find common solutions."

According to FAO, 50 per cent of all fishery resources are fully utilized, 25 per cent hold some potential of increased fisheries, while the remaining 25 per cent are overfished and urgently need intervention.

"The objective should be to conserve all our marine ecosystems so we can maintain high fishery production as well as enjoy all the other diverse benefits from the marine environment. That would be in line with the Rio Declaration of 1992," said Grimur Valdimarsson, director of the Fisheries Industries Division of FAO, referring to the text adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, or "Earth Summit."

In light of the growing concern surrounding these issues, the FAO, along with the Government of Iceland, will convene the Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem from 1 to 4 October in Iceland. Top on the agenda will be how to better sustain and preserve the world's ocean fisheries, decrease the negative environmental impacts of fishing and lessen the negative effects of fertilizer run-off and other pollution on marine life.

For the first time on an international level, these groups will meet to discuss ways to satisfy often-competing demands. Over 400 delegates from 70 countries are expected to participate in the debate on these issues. At the conclusion of the conference, FAO member countries may adopt a declaration, outlining a framework for future action to protect fisheries.