Currently showing: Food security > Livestock

31 May 14 15:13

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

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 "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  

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

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

What are your thoughts? Have you seen any other successful projects you'd like to share? 

Category: Food security: Livestock


Paritosh - 31 May 2014, 6:48 p.m.

Numbers of fishes available in the world is comparatively huge in numbers than the cows and pigs of the world. Thanks to aquaculture, it's cheaper and more environmental friendly to farm fishes than any other animal.

The restricting factors are, lack of interest in the fish meat in the non-coastal areas of the world, which is actually high!

Bigger fishes are preferred, as they have lesser bones that could hurt throats! With the biggest of the fishes getting banned (Shark & Whales), the challenge is to recognize and advertise the types of fishes with the sizes in between and abundant and to promote them throughout the world...

Exhaustive topic but to keep it in short and simple, a taste to fish meat has to be developed in the non-coastal areas along with aquaculture...

Alicia Montoya - 31 May 2014, 8:18 p.m.

Yes, FAO stresses that fish farming holds "tremendous promise in responding to surging demand for food which is taking place due to global population growth". However, I'd add we must do so more sustainably (more on fish farm horrors here

FAO's report is largely upbeat: Currently, under 30 percent of the wild fish stocks regularly monitored by FAO are overfished -a reversal in trend observed during the past few years, hopefully a sign we're finally heading in the right direction.

However, the report also states that an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost per year -about 1/3 of all food produced- and that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing remains a major threat to marine ecosystems and also impacts negatively on livelihoods, local economies and food supplies.

Moreover, there are many endangered species that are not seeing a stagnation or recovery, largely due to overfishing. In this video, the writers of the famous 2006 report that predicted the (near) end of salt water fish stocks by 2048 make many important points, and stress that only a fraction of fish are being assessed:

But let's end on a positive note. Many scientists say most fish populations *could* be restored with aggressive fisheries management, better enforcement of laws governing catches, and increased use of aquaculture.

For that, we'll need to protect more of the ocean (currently, only 3% of the ocean is protected. That proportion needs to grow substantially) and we'll need to implement more sustainable fisheries practices globally. For instance, the US' 'secure fishing access rights' makes fishermen have a vested interest in what happens to the stocks -their benefit growing if fish stocks grow-, which is producing excellent results. So back to the original point of this blog: We need to empower local communities and build incentives for them to take care of the oceans.

Alicia Montoya - 8 Jun 2014, 6:58 p.m.

Happy World Oceans Day! This year's theme is "Together, We Have the Power to Protect the Ocean". Do take a minute to reflect on what *you* can do to help. Together, yes we can! :)

Mercedes Rosello - 3 Jul 2014, 1:46 p.m.

Dear Alicia

You touch on many important points here. You are spot on that community engagement is essential to protect marine resources and to encourage sustainability and healthy blue growth.

It is important that coastal communities that depend on fish for their food and work security are empowered by governments and civil society to stand as effective stewards.

However, overfishing is a multifactorial problem. Much of the fish we eat are highly migratory and roam the oceans crossing national boundaries in the course of their lives. This means that fleets from different countries must share them, a factor that leads to much competition amongst them and tension in the allocation of (and respect for) quota.

Also, much of the regulation that is required to ensure that fish stocks are properly managed is complex, fragmented and difficult to implement and monitor at sea - a factor that requires constant cooperation between different maritime nations. Whilst few would oppose cooperation, when it comes to investing in the coordination that is necessary to bring cooperation to fruition, there is evidence of many deficiencies and a lack of political will on behalf of many governments.

To make matters worse, economic drivers often favour non-compliance on a personal as well as official level and this results in illegality and in the passivity of those who should be addressing and preventing it.

Like you rightly say, illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is an important problem and a persistent and costly one. A recent Interpol report on wildlife crime puts the cost of IUU fishing at around US$ 30 Bn per annum.

Further, IUU fishing has been linked to organised transnational crime, a factor that further undermines security (see my recent blog on the issue of illegal fishing and maritime security here: ).

This said, I fully agree with you that community involvement is key in addressing these problems and averting the tragedy of the commons.

Stakeholders should be encourage to access the knowledge and means to understand and invest the future of fisheries. Whether they are inshore or coastal fisheries or oceanic fisheries shared between many nations, stakeholders' commitment to scientific research and the will to encourage accountability, to expect compliance and to disempower those who do not play by the rules is essential.

Investing in sustainable practices and in the reduction of oversized fleets is also a must for every maritime nation.

By 'stakeholders' I mean not only the fish harvesting industry but also every person involved in buying, selling, distributing, processing and cooking fish and all those who finance, insure, service or govern the sector. Like you rightly say, achieving a sustainable future for fisheries and a healthy ocean is down to community participation!

Alicia Montoya - 9 Aug 2014, 8:33 p.m.

That's the biggest hurdle in my view: How do we make economic drivers favour compliance on a personal, corporate and government level? How do we price non-compliance out?

Maybe we need to make it compulsory for companies to provide information on the sourcing of the fish (wild or farmed, fed antibiotics or bio, etc)? A bit like this initiative for clothes:

But how does one enforce it? I mean, companies can just lie about it, right (as many do with denominations like bio, or even DOCs)?

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