Fisheries and aquaculture

© FAO/13488/I. De Borhegyi

Fisheries and aquaculture play an important role for food security, nutrition and poverty reduction. Over 700 million people depend directly or indirectly on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. Globally, fish provides 3.2 billion people with 20% or more of average per capita animal protein intake – and in some countries this is over 50%. Fish is rich in mictronutrients generally not found in staple foods and vital to the diet of many people I developing countries, especially in poor and food-deficit countries.
Most fishers and fish farmers operate on a small-scale and are vulnerable to a wide-range of threats. Many living in coastal areas and exposed to natural disasters, a risk that is increasing with and compounded by climate change.
Climate change impacts, such as warming of oceans, rivers and lakes and changes in precipitation, water salinity and ocean acidity as well as the increases in extreme weather events, will increase uncertainties in the supply of fish from capture fisheries and aquaculture. The availability of food will vary, positively and negatively, resulting from changes in habitats, stocks and species distribution in inland, coastal and marine ecosystems. More frequent long-term fluctuations in marine environments, such as those induced by El Niño events and increases in extreme weather events will impact stability of supply. Climate change-induced increased risks of species invasions and spreading of vector-borne diseases may threaten food quality. However, new opportunities and positive impacts (e.g. from changes in species and new markets) will also be part of future changes.


FAO’s activities aim to address climate change adaptation and mitigation in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, all of which are guided by a strategy framework that focus on policy development, knowledge building and exchange, promoting standards and practical demonstrations and include:

  • Contribute to the knowledge base for local, national and international policy development for climate change and fisheries & aquaculture,
  • Raise awareness of the importance of the sector, especially with respect to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Assist the development of national and regional climate change and food security strategies, priorities and policies at the global, regional and national levels
  • Support and promote cross-sectoral - technical, social, political, legal and institutional - coordination, partnerships and cooperation
  • Develop guidelines to promote ecosystem approaches to fisheries and aquaculture
  • Promote best practices and strengthen capacity building and lesson learning
  • Mobilize resources to support prioritized actions. 


Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook 24 July 2013 There has been a rapid uptake of the term Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) by the international community, national entities and local institutions, in the past years. However, implementing this approach is challenging, partly due to a lack of tools and experience. Climate-smart interventions are highly location-specific and knowledge-intensive. Considerable efforts are required to develop the knowledge and capacities to make CSA a reality. The purpose of the sourcebook is to further elaborate the concept of CSA and demonstrate its potential, as well as its limitations. This sourcebook is a reference tool for planners, practitioners and policy makers working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries at national and subnational levels, dealing with the effects of climate change. [more]
Building resilience for adaptation to climate change in the agriculture sector 24 July 2013 Globally, climactic conditions are increasingly variable, and the intensity of their effects stronger. As climate change brings new uncertainties, risks and changes to already existing risks, one of the most efficient ways for agriculture to adapt is increasing its resilience. In April 2012, the joint FAO/OECD Workshop on “Building Resilience for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector” was held to address these issues in different agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts, and to illustrate how building resilience is critical to adapting to climate change. The various sessions of the Workshop questioned the notion of resilience from very different angles, confronting concepts, specific risk management strategies, case studies and national policies, from different perspectives – biophysical, economic, or social and institutional – and at various scales, from farm and household to national and global. This publication is a compilation of the papers presented at the Workshop, and the Workshop Summary. [more]
• Proceedings on priority adaptations to climate change for Pacific fisheries and aquaculture 24 July 2013 This publication includes: (i) a summary of the technical presentations provided to the Workshop participants on the implications of climate change for Pacific fisheries and aquaculture; and (ii) the outcomes of discussions by participants on the priority adaptations that Pacific island countries and territories (PICTs) can implement to reduce risks and take advantage of opportunities. The Workshop was hosted by Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) as the culmination of 3.5 years of work to assess the vulnerability of Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. It also formed part of a series of climate change awareness-raising and adaptation planning workshops around the globe financed through a Japanese-funded, and FAO-implemented, project “Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture: Understanding the Consequences as a Basis for Planning and Implementing Suitable Responses and Adaptation Strategies” (GCP/INT/253/JPN). The technical presentations and range of possible adaptations and supporting policies presented were based on SPC publications. Discussions focused on priority adaptations for economic development and government revenue, food security and sustainable livelihoods for Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian nations. The adaptations identified reflect the different fisheries participation rates and importance of fish to economic development and as a source of local food and income in these different regions. The Workshop discussions recommended immediate action by all PICTs to manage fisheries resources sustainably now and into the future, to establish systems to minimize impacts of various drivers facing the sector now and from future climate change, and to capitalize on opportunities. Cooperation between PICTs and partnerships among governments, regional and international organizations and communities were highlighted as important ways to implement effective adaptation. Johnson, J., Bell, J. & De Young, C. 2013. Priority adap... [more]
Fuel savings for small fishing vessels 24 July 2013 The recent sharp increase in the price of fuel has had a major impact on the economics of operating fishing vessels. Fishing boat owners and operators struggle to meet this challenge and ask what measures can be taken to reduce the heavy burden of increased fuel cost. Litres of fuel required per tonne of fish landed varies widely depending on the fish specia and fishing method used. Fuel saving methods have to be tailored to each fishing method and fishery. This manual aims to provide practical advice to fishing boat owners and crews, boatbuilders and boat designers and fisheries administrators on ways to reduce fuel costs. It focuses on small fishing boats measuring up to 16 m (50 ft) in length and operating at speeds of less than 10 knots. This covers the majority of the world's fishing boats. It also serves as a guide for those involved with fuel savings for small vessels used in support of aquaculture activities. The manual provides information to boat designers and boat builders on hull shape for low resistance and the selection of efficient propellers. The first chapters of this manual deal with fuel saving measures that can be taken on existing boats without incurring major investment costs. The most effective measures include reducing boat service speed, keeping the hull and propeller free from underwater fouling and maintaining the boat engine. It also suggests that changing fishing methods can save fuel. The final chapters of this manual provide information regarding the fuel savings that are possible by changing from a 2-stroke outboard engine to a diesel engine, installing a diesel engine, and using sail. Selecting economic engine power on the basis of the waterline length and the weight of the boat is discussed. Advice is given on the choice of gear reduction ratio and of propeller related to service speed, service power and propeller rpm. Data are provided to assist with the design of a new fuel-efficient boat and the selection of an optimum propell... [more]

last updated:  Thursday, October 17, 2013