In a world where more than 800 million people suffer from chronic malnourishment and where the global population is expected to reach 9+ billion by 2050 -much of it concentrated in coastal urban areas-, the challenge of feeding our growing population while safeguarding natural resources for future generations has never been bigger.
According to FAO, fish contribute 15-20% of animal protein to the diets of people worldwide. In many developing countries, the world's oceans, lakes and rivers are harvested by artisanal fishers who provide vital nourishment for poor communities, not only in Africa and Asia, but also in many parts of Latin America and islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Of the 30 countries most dependent on fish as a protein source, all but four are in the developing world.
FAO's latest "State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture" report highlights the significant role that fisheries and aquaculture plays in eliminating hunger, promoting health and reducing poverty. FAO's "Blue Growth" plan promotes the sustainable use and conservation of aquatic renewable resources in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner. It aims at reconciling and balancing priorities between growth and conservation, and between industrial and artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, ensuring equitable benefits for communities. Read the report here http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3720e/index.html.
As demand for food soars -with worldwide fish consumption having doubled since the 60s- the focus these days is turning to conservation of stocks and sustainable fishing practices, balancing the management of aquatic stocks with fair benefits for those living in coastal communities.
This week the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published a story that highlights an issue I believe is key to our conservation efforts: Empowering and incentivizing local communities in holistic resource management (read the story here http://www.iucn.org/about/union/secretariat/offices/oceania/?14882/Pacific-communities-demonstrate-marine-management). "Locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) are an example of resource management that is primarily for community subsistence purposes, but also achieves biodiversity conservation. LMMAs developed as a result of coastal communities realising that they could capitalize on opportunities for stewardship of their marine and coastal resources, to secure or even restore food supplies. LMMA communities implement sustainable fisheries management and traditional management practices to ensure the food supply from the ocean is sustained into the future. This style of management may protect and sustain marine and coastal biodiversity either intentionally or as a by-product."
When I studied development anthropology, it struck me that the vast majority of projects that proved successful had one thing in common: The active participation of the local community, from project design and management to implementation and governance. It makes sense: People need incentives to invest time and efforts, as the brilliant "Freakonomics" points out (buy it from Good Books here, they ship for free and all profits go to Oxfam http://www.usegoodbooks.com/book/UK/9780141019017/Freakonomics).
One way to do so is by involving the local population in the building of "Fish Banks". In this video, Jayne Plunkett, Head of Casualty Reinsurance at Swiss Re and WEF Young Global Leader (YGL), together with Enric Sala, Marine Ecologist and National Geographic Expolorer in Residence, explain how the WEF's YGL's "Fish Banks" initiative could help save fish stocks and boost growth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swcWWyVVCEc
So increasing the number of projects with local communities to build fish banks and marine conservation areas will help us better produce enough food sustainably, regenerate coastal areas (thereby strengthening resilience to natural catastrophes), improve biodiversity, grow fish stocks and provide revenue for many developing communities. Win, win, win, win, win!
How do we make it happen? Would that require shifting more of the oceans' responsibility to countries/regions? Perhaps by expanding national waters, making countries responsible for a larger share of the oceans and building many more marine conservation areas in them, we'd support our sustainable development goals? (For a previous discussion on 'the tragedy of the commons' of our oceans, click here https://openminds.swissre.com/stories/548/).
What are your thoughts? Have you seen any other successful projects you'd like to share?
Category: Food security: Livestock