The contribution of inland fisheries to resilient livelihoods, those which are buffered against difficult situations, is multifaceted and difficult to evaluate. Inland fisheries in Low-Income Food-Deficit countries are often part of a diversified livelihood strategy, exacerbating the tendency for them to be overlooked and undervalued. The challenge is in available data to highlight this role.
Even with long-standing management and extensive science support, North American inland fish and fisheries still face many conservation and management challenges. Addressing these grand challenges will promote open forums for engagement of diverse stakeholders in fisheries management, and better integrate the inland fish sector into the greater water and land use policy process.
Though reported capture fisheries are dominated by marine production, inland fish and fisheries make substantial contributions to meeting the challenges faced by individuals, society, and the environment in a changing global landscape. Inland capture fisheries and aquaculture contribute over 40% to the world’s reported finfish production from less than 0.01% of the total volume of water on earth.
Freshwater fish provide food, livelihoods, and ecosystem services to millions of people, especially in low-income countries, yet their value is generally not adequately considered in water use, energy, and development decisions. Freshwater fisheries around the world may appear to be very different, but their value to local communities and the threats to their sustainability are often similar.
The challenges to inland fisheries are also critical to the 60 million people who rely on freshwater fish for livelihoods – over half of whom are women. Fish is also an essential source of protein and other nutrients that cannot easily be replaced with other food sources.
Inland fisheries around the world – and the people who depend on them for food, livelihoods, and well-being – need international cross-sectoral action to improve the sustainability of freshwater aquatic resources, according to recommendations in 2015 at the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome.