Inland Fisheries

Historical review of EIFAC activities. EIFAC OCCASIONAL PAPER. No. 13.

Overview of inland fisheries

The European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC) is a regional commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with a membership of twenty-five countries,1 including four with strong European affinities: Cyprus, Israel, Malta and Turkey. Collectively, the membership represents over ninety percent of the land area of Europe outside the USSR. Since its inception, the Commission has adapted both its structure and activities to the changing requirements of the inland fisheries in its member countries to ensure their protection, maintenance and use for the benefit of their peoples.

Meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies have enabled many decisions to be reached in the interests of its collective membership; and a considerable volume of published information, largely scientific or technical in nature, has been produced over the past twenty years. Much of this information is relevant to areas beyond Europe, and its reports and decisions have often been accepted as authoritative by other national and international organizations in implementing their own actions.

Inland fisheries have become increasingly recognized in other regions as a source of food for local populations, a social or recreational resource, and a means of attracting foreign currency, whether by export sale of fish or through encouragement of tourism through angling. Several new FAO regional fisheries bodies have been formed since the advent of EIFAC, and others may be contemplated. The experience gained in Europe from the evolution of EIFAC has been useful in establishing these bodies and should continue to be valuable to those countries which now or in the future attempt collectively to develop and use inland fisheries to their mutual advantage. The scientific and technical expertise available in European countries, and the long history of fishery and limnological investigations, have been major factors in ensuring the success of the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission. Much of this expertise and experience could be of valuable assistance to other regions in enabling them to develop their fisheries rapidly and more efficiently.

The following review outlines the historical development of EIFAC, describing both its achievements and its problems, in order to provide guidelines to the success of similar ventures in other areas of the world.