UN Report Outlines Uncertainties in Fish Projections

Changes in the environment, resources, macroeconomic conditions and more may influence production and fish markets in the coming decade, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2016 state of world fisheries report.

Climate change, variability and extreme weather events are also compounding threats to the sustainability of capture fisheries and aquaculture development in marine and freshwater environments, the report said.

Moreover, the report said, extreme weather events and sea-level rise are anticipated to affect fisheries-related infrastructure such as ports and fleets, further raising the cost of fishing, processing and distribution activities. These possible events would take place in the context of other global social and economic pressures on natural resources and ecosystems, including environmental degradation and increasing land and water scarcity, the report said.

While capture fisheries production is projected to remain rather stable, the real prospects for these fisheries are difficult to determine because they depend on the natural productivity of fish stocks and ecosystems, and are subject to many variables and uncertainties. Moreover, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing and the overcapacity of fishing fleets globally threaten the sustainability of fisheries resources, the report said.

Still, the FAO document notes, there is tremendous potential for oceans and inland waters now, and in the future, to contribute significantly to food security and adequate nutrition for a global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

World per capita fish supply reached a record high of 20 kg in 2014, thanks to vigorous growth in aquaculture, which now provides half of all fish for human consumption, and to a slight improvement in the state of certain fish stocks due to improved fisheries management, the report said.

Meanwhile hunger and malnutrition remain the world’s most devastating problems, and inextricably linked to poverty, with some 795 million people undernourished globally. While there has been significant improvement in reducing hunger and malnutrition worldwide, such progress has been uneven and unacceptably slow, according to FAO.

The complete report is online at http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5555e.pdf