FAO Fisheries Department

Review of the State of the World Fishery Resources: Inland Fisheries



The fishery statistics reported to FAO by countries and maintained in the FishStat database are

analysed for trends in quantity and composition of catches from 1950 to 2009. Catches have been

increasing at a steady rate throughout the period. Fish from inland water capture fisheries are an

important source of animal protein, especially in landlocked countries and for populations riparian to

lakes and rivers. Finfish contribute about 90 percent of the catch together with some crustaceans and

molluscs. The accuracy of reporting of catches by taxonomic group has improved with time and more

groups are being reported in 2009 than in 1950. At the same time, the percentage of catches assigned

to the generic “freshwater fishes NEI” category has declined. Trends in catches and taxonomic groups

are analysed for subcontinental regions under a more general continental heading. The regions are

divided mainly by geography, although in some cases economic and political considerations are used.

Catches in the various regions of Africa, Asia and South and Central America have risen steadily over

the period of the review, although there are local exceptions to the general trend. There is clear

evidence that such increases are real in some individual fisheries, but generally the increases are

attributed to improvements in reporting, whereby catches that were already there but previously

ignored are now being incorporated into the reports. Catches in North America, and most of Europe,

have declined in the same period, which is attributed to shifts in economic conditions that make

fishing not longer financially viable, and a greater public demand for recreational fishing. Catches

from eastern Europe and the Russian Federation declined from a maximum in the 1980s, but have

shown some signs of recovery in the last decade. In general, the world’s inland fisheries still appear

viable although environmental pressures, such as damming, water abstraction and overexploitation,

pose a potential threat to the maintenance of present levels of reproduction and recruitment, and

hence, ultimately catch.