The FAO Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (FI) welcomes the decision of the Committee on world food security (CFS) to request the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) to undertake a study on the role of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition to be presented at the CFS plenary in 2014. Although asserted at high levels meetings, e.g. the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), the important contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to food security and nutrition has not always received the attention it deserves, and most strategies aiming at improving food security neglect the fisheries and aquaculture or make only passing reference to it. FI would like the HLPE to fill this gap by (i) mapping the real contribution fisheries and aquaculture makes or can make to food security and nutrition and (ii) recommend policies to ensure that food security strategies incorporate the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
In so doing, the HLPE study should look at fisheries and aquaculture sector not only as a provider of high quality proteins, but also as an equally important, unique source of micronutrients such as long chained omega-3 fatty acids necessary for brain and neurodevelopment in children, The latter underlines the importance of fish in the diets for women of childbearing age, infants and young children. Of importance is also the presence in fish of minerals/trace elements and vitamins essential for combating various disorders due to iodine, zinc and/or vitamin A deficiencies which still affect millions of people, particularly in the developing world. Looking towards the goal of eradicating hunger and under-nutrition, the HLPE should focus specifically on the role of small scale fisheries and the importance of fish such as small pelagics, small self-recruiting fishes, or aquatic animals in rice based farming systems that are low value but highly nutritious.
In addition to assessing the real contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to food security, FI would like the HLPE study to assess the necessary resources and collaboration frameworks at global, regional and national levels that can make this contribution to global food security effective, building on past and ongoing initiatives. As stated in the scope of this e-consultation, the world leaders at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20) stated in article 13 of the document agreed by the Conference “we also stress the crucial role of healthy aquatic eco-systems, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture for food security and nutrition, and in providing the livelihoods of millions of people”. Policy recommendations to governments, the donor community, private sector and civil society would be useful in this respect.
Specific Comments on the issues raised by the HLPE
Regarding the key questions that the report poses, in line with the request from CFS, and that could form the building blocks of the report, FI has the following comments [see attachment].
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