Developing countries need better fisheries management, UN agency says

30 May 2006

The increase in fish exports has proved helpful in fighting hunger in the developing world, according to a new study carried out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which, however, urges poor countries to adopt better management techniques to reap long-term benefits.

The increase in fish exports has proved helpful in fighting hunger in the developing world, according to a new study carried out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which, however, urges poor countries to adopt better management techniques to reap long-term benefits.

The report released today to coincide with a weeklong meeting on the international trade in fish products being held in Santiago de Compostela in Spain said that fish trade was so far having no detrimental effect on the amount of fish available for consumption as food in poor countries.

The UN agency told delegates from the 60 countries attending the Tenth Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade that growing exports earning had increased employment, raised incomes and improved government services.

The value of the international fish trade increased from more than $15 billion in 1980 to over $71 billion in 2004, according to FAO.

But the agency cautioned that good management of fisheries by developing countries is essential if they are going to continue to benefit over the longer term.

“The fish trade helps poor countries shore up their food security situation,” said Grimur Valdimarsson, FAO’s Director of Fisheries Industry Division. “But increasing international demand can at times result in executive fishing pressure, leading to the over-fishing and wasteful use of stocks.”

Mr. Valdimarssen stressed that meeting demands must be balanced with sustainable development if poorer countries want to continue to “benefit this way.”

Currently, about 77 per cent of fish consumed worldwide as food is supplied by developing countries. Wealthy developed countries account for 81 per cent of all imports of fish-based products. The top importing nations include Japan, the United States, Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

FAO said at this week’s meeting it will present a draft text aimed at giving authorities in both developed and developing countries guidance on making the international trade in fish products more sustainable. The guidelines includes the use of “eco-labels” and fish tracking systems

Comprising 77 FAO members, the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade meets every two years to share information, discuss policy issues related to fish trade, and make recommendations to the agency regarding its related work.

 

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