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Experimental shrimp ponds
Experimental shrimp ponds
Courtesy of NOAA/Sea Grant Program/J.P. McVey

With respect to climate change mitigation , which involves reductions in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, either by reducing their sources or by increasing their sinks, FAO has defined four priority action areas:

  1. strengthening the agriculture, forestry and other land-based sectors in climate change negotiations and international agreements
  2. data and knowledge for mitigation
  3. methods and technologies for mitigation
  4. governance for climate change mitigation

The key activities for mitigation include emissions reductions, carbon sequestration and policy actions for mitigation. These solutions require innovative approaches such as the recent inclusion of mangrove conservation as eligible for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) funding which demonstrates the potential for catchment forest protection under REDD. Other approaches to explore are linking vessel decommissioning with emissions reduction funding schemes, finding innovative but safe ways to sequester carbon in aquatic ecosystems, and developing low-carbon aquaculture production systems.

Many capture fisheries and their supporting ecosystems have been poorly managed and the economic losses due to overfishing, pollution and habitat loss are estimated to exceed $50 billion per year. Improved governance, innovative technologies and more responsible practices can generate increased and sustainable benefits from fisheries. Currently there are more fossil fuel consuming fishing vessels operating than necessary to catch the available fish resources efficiently. Reducing the fleet overcapacity will not only help rebuild fish stocks and sustain global catches, but can substantially reduce carbon emissions from the sector.

By focusing on herbivorous species aquaculture can provide nutritious food with a low carbon footprint. Farming of shellfish, such as oysters and mussels is not only good business, but also helps clean coastal waters, while culturing aquatic plants helps remove wastes from polluted waters. In contrast to the potential declines in agricultural yields in many areas of the world, climate change opens new opportunities for aquaculture as increasing numbers of species are cultured; as the sea encroaches on coastal lands; as more dams and impoundments are constructed in river basins to buffer changing rainfall patterns; and as urban waste demands more innovative disposal.

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