PR 96/19 - FAO URGES BALANCED USE OF FISHERY RESOURCES


Press 96/19

FAO URGES BALANCED USE OF FISHERY RESOURCES FOR NEEDS OF THIS AND FUTURE GENERATIONS; ORGANIZATION SUB-COMMITTEE ON FISH TRADE TO MEET IN BREMEN (June 4-7, 1996)

Bremen, 4 June -- World fish production should be managed in a more sustainable and responsible manner, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which called earlier fishing practices spontaneous and disordered.

FAO called for "thorough international consideration and co-operation" to achieve a balanced use of fishery resources that would reflect long-range global needs.

Despite a string of past international accords, "the international image of fisheries is still not the one we would like to see. News reports about fisheries are those of management problems and economic difficulties," said FAO Fisheries Industry Officer Z.S. "Steve" Karnicki, addressing more than 120 fishery experts, including government and industry representatives from 70 countries gathered at the FAO Sub- Committee on Fish Trade* in Bremen, Germany.

The 4 - 7 June meeting is analyzing fish trade issues, assessing the current situation and outlook for world fisheries. The group is discussing ways to expand fish availability by reducing waste in fisheries and by increasing aquaculture. The Sub-Committee is also looking at the impact of environmental degradation on the future of fishery resources.

In 1994, world fish production expanded substantially to a record 109.2 million tons, estimates for 1995 indicate production will be marginally lower, at about 109 million tons, according to FAO. China is the top producer with 20.4 million tons in 1994. Peru was the second major fishing nation with catches exceeding 12 million tons.

Exports of fishery products in 1994 totalled $43.3 billion, with developed countries accounting for $22.5 billion, up 6.6 percent from 1993. Developing countries exported $20.9 billion worth of fishery products, a 3.6 percent increase over 1993.

Imports of fishery products in 1994 were up 14.3 percent at $51 billion. Of that amount developed countries imported $43.3 billion worth of fishery products, a 14 percent increase, while developing countries imported fish products worth $7.8 billion, or 16.1 percent more than in 1993.

Studies prepared for the meeting indicate that improved selectivity of fishing gears and operations together with better processing, handling and storage techniques will play an important role in reducing waste in fisheries and in saving more fish for human consumption.

There is also a greater need for disease control through better management of intensive aquaculture, FAO said.

Analyzing tariff structures, another report prepared for the meeting said that economic growth coupled with tariff reduction and trade liberalization in most Asian countries, should strengthen their situation as emerging markets for exports from developed economies.

The report predicts that the Uruguay Round agreement will not have an immediate impact on the fisheries sector of Sub-saharan countries, whose exports are currently protected by the Lomé Convention.


*The Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, established by the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 1985, may include States which, while not Member Nations or Associate members of FAO, are members of the United Nations or its specialized agencies.