Inland Fisheries

Fishery management in large rivers

Managing inland fisheries

An Expert Consultation on Fishery Management in Large Rivers was held in Rome from 13 to 17 November 1978. The consultation was organized by the Fishery Resources and Environment Division of the FAO Department of Fisheries and brought together experts in a number of disciplines from several of the world's major river basins.

The FAO Fisheries Department has long concerned itself with problems of inland fisheries. In the past the main areas of interest have been natural lakes and the many reservoirs which were created in Africa and Asia in the sixties and early seventies. Little attention has been paid to rivers and it is only recently that a general awareness has developed of the importance of river systems to fisheries throughout the world. While rivers were relatively unaltered, the fish they produced was taken for granted, but with increasing competition for water for agricultural, industrial and domestic uses, fisheries usually have been given a secondary role among the range of users. The river systems themselves are being increasingly modified both in their form and in their flood characteristics. As a consequence, fish populations are being altered and productive capacities lowered. FAO is now called upon to advise countries on the ways in which such fisheries can be managed, both on their own and in harmony with such activities as irrigation, flood control or power generation. In trying to fulfil this task, we are limited by the comparative lack of knowledge about the systems under consideration. A meeting of experts was convened in an attempt to define the methodologies for the assessment of fishery resources in rivers and the use of these methodologies in evaluating the impacts of fisheries and other uses of the aquatic environment on the fishery.