Inland Fisheries

Importance for food security and nutritional role

Small-scale inland fisheries catch tends to be directed for local human consumption and plays an important direct role in food security (note the exception with the African, small, inland-pelagic fish). Ecosystem services from freshwater environments and inland capture fisheries influence human well-being by alleviating poverty and contributing to food and livelihood security. At least 43 percent of the world’s inland fish capture harvest comes from 50 low-income food deficit countries (LIFDCs).  At least 11 percent of global inland fishery production comes from landlocked countries. 

Inland fish provides nutritional quality to countries where there are otherwise poor diets, due to poverty and limited access to other forms of quality food. Inland fisheries are efficient producer of food, with a far lower resource use footprint when compared with livestock or other protein dense foods. In low GDP countries with inland fisheries, the per capita supply of fish food produced from inland waters is greater than that of marine capture fisheries or aquaculture. 

Importance for livelihoods, decent work and resilience

The economic value of inland freshwater fisheries catches (as reported to FAO) is estimated to be approximately USD 26 billion. The major contributions to this come from Asia (66 percent) and Africa (22 percent). It is acknowledged that a significant proportion of the inland catch is “hidden” and therefore undocumented. If this hidden component is included in the valuation, the estimated total use value of inland freshwater fisheries rises to USD 39 billion. The additional non-market use value (NMUV) of recreational fishing is estimated between USD 65-79 billion.

Inland capture fisheries employ between 16.8 million and 20.7 million people, with a further 8 million to 38 million employed in the post-harvest sector. This represents about 2.5 percent to 6 percent of the global agricultural workforce. Women’s engagement in inland fisheries is often invisible although they play a significant role in many fisheries. Women represent more than 50 percent of the workforce in inland fisheries. Although often narrowly associated with post-harvest processing and marketing activity, women also engage in fishing in many countries.