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2. FAO fisheries activities in mountainous regions

FAO and the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) have a long tradition of paying attention to fisheries development in countries in the hilly regions and mountains of the world. Since the early 1970s, FAO has carried out fisheries surveys of Lake Titicaca on the altiplano of the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes. In Asia over the last 30 years several FAO missions visited countries of the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalayas where, together with the national specialist staff, they assessed and evaluated the situation, formulated project proposals and participated in their implementation. The successful examples are fisheries developments in Nepal and Bhutan, which have substantially boosted fisheries production in these countries. In 1999, FAO published a review on cold water fisheries in mountain countries of Asia. Other agencies and international organisations, such as JICA and the German GTZ, assisted with investigations, funded the establishment of laboratories, and provided funding for external and internal training of fisheries specialists. In July 2001, FAO, the Government of Nepal, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other partners organized a Symposium on Coldwater Fishes of the Trans-Himalayan Region in Kathmandu. It brought together 70 participants from ten countries in the region and others outside it to decide on further action. The Symposium concerned itself with three major themes: distribution and conservation of cold water fish, role of cold water fish in rural development and poverty alleviation, and cold water fisheries and aquaculture development.

The Karakoram-Himalaya belt of mountain ranges plays an important role in the socioeconomic and cultural life of its peoples. The overall goal of the International Year of Mountains is to help ensure the well-being of mountain populations by promoting sustainable development of mountain regions in order to improve the quality of life of mountain people. The Karakoram and Himalaya mountains are rich suppliers of water to the region. Water resources serve not only as domestic and industrial water supply, for hydropower development and irrigation, but are an important source of fish providing food for the people of hills and mountains. Sustainable management of aquatic living resources is among the priorities of the governments in the region. In light of this, the Kathmandu Symposium on Coldwater Fishes focused on reviewing the status of cold water fisheries in Trans-Himalayas, including the role of cold water fish in rural development and poverty alleviation.

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