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Fishing on a floodplain (Bangladesh)
Fishing on a floodplain (Bangladesh)

The contribution of inland fishery resources to food security is greatly underestimated. A large part of the problem is that in some countries the inland capture statistics overlook perhaps as much as two to three times the production that is reported. This is because of the dispersed and informal nature of the fisheries, especially those that are practised, for example, for subsistence, individually, by children, in non-perennial water bodies, and seasonally in alternation with agriculture.

Inland fish production provides significant contributions to animal protein supplies in many rural areas. In some regions freshwater fish represent an essential, often irreplaceable source of high quality and cheap animal protein crucial to the balance of diets in marginally food secure communities. Most inland fish produce is consumed locally, marketed domestically and often contributes to the subsistence and livelihood of poor people. Increasingly, some inland fish products are also traded internationally generating additional wealth. The degree of participation, including a significant number of women and children, in fishing and fish farming can be high in some rural communities, and fish production often is undertaken in addition to agricultural or other activities.

The key challenges to maintaining and enhancing inland fish production and associated social and economic benefits that constitute food security are:

  • degradation of aquatic resources and environments
  • increasing competition for resources
  • insufficient institutional and political recognition

Fishery stakeholders alone cannot address the above challenges in most cases, particularly since many of the problems are generated outside the fisheries sector. Therefore, approaches such as integrated watershed development, integrated watershed management, and integrated resources management are especially relevant. Key elements for success are early participation in planning for development and management by fishery administrators and stakeholders, and better overall coordination of planning.

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