FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

Fish Forum: Aquaculture, inland fisheries and RFMOs

Photo: ©FAO/Vladimir Mikheev


The final day of the IV Global Fisheries Forum featured a special session dedicated to aquaculture as the driver of the whole fish industry. 

Highlighting the “Global trends in supply, markets and trade”, Audun Lem, Deputy Director, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, speaking online, summed the trends of the last two decades. Apart from the “rising demand for fish and fishery products” against population growth and interest in “nutritious food”, the industry recorded “strong increase in global aquaculture production, growth in world fish trade in volumes and value, as well as global call for sustainable sector development in all three dimensions.” 

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food producing sectors. Global aquaculture production grew 7 percent a year from 17 million tonnes in 1990 to 120 million tonnes in 2019, the FAO expert said in his presentation. 

“Thanks to aquaculture, between 1967 and 2017, world per capita fish consumption doubled from 10 kg to 20 kg. The consumption of freshwater fish increased from 1.7 kg to 8.1 kg, whereas that of marine fish declined from 7.2 kg to 6.9 kg,” Mr Lem noted. 

What does the future hold for aquaculture? According to Mr Lem, “aquaculture is driving innovation, product development, logistics and distribution. Trade facilitates consumption worldwide including land-locked countries and SIDS. Sustainability and food safety concerns drive traceability and certification trends.” In conclusion, Mr Lem informed that FAO is working on Guidelines on Sustainable Aquaculture (GSA). 

On Day Two, FAO in collaboration with the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) presented a review on inland fisheries in Russia. The Review prepared by VNIRO and its regional branches contains information relevant not only for Russia but also for the neighbouring countries that share some of the basins and waterbodies and have inland waters with similar properties. 

Describing the state of the world’s fishery resources with focus on inland fisheries, John Jorgensen, Fisheries Officer, FAO Fisheries Division, said that global inland surface waters cover 3.7 mio. km2 (2.7 percent of the land on Earth). The Russian Federation territory exceeds 17 mio. km2. There is just one person per 470 m2 of surface freshwater area, which is the habitat of over 40 percent of the world’s fish species (~13,000 spp.). 

“Inland fisheries are at different scales but are mostly small-scale activities integrated into rural farming livelihoods, i.e. rice farming, floodplain agriculture, riparian crops, herding,” noted Mr Jorgensen. “Inland capture fisheries employs rural people,” the FAO expert added. We are talking about 16.8-20.7 million directly employed. In fact, more people are employed in inland fisheries than in marine fisheries since another 8-38 million are engaged in post-harvest. In total, it makes around 2.5-6 percent of global agricultural workforce, of which over half are women. 

Summing up, FAO Fisheries Officer emphasized: “Inland waters are highly diverse and vulnerable ecosystems providing essential services including inland fisheries. They are sources of employment, income, food, and nutrition security for the rural poor. Inland water ecosystems are under pressure from a range of human activities. Sustainable inland fisheries management requires holistic and inclusive development approaches among sectors having an impact on aquatic ecosystems.”  

FAO team also held a special session devoted to “Regional fishery bodies established within the FAO framework”. The main purpose of the session was to review activities and work carried out by regional fishery bodies (RFBs) over the past years. Special emphasis was placed on entities whose geographic scope encompasses the region of Europe and Central Asia (EIFAAC, CACFish and GFCM). 

Although the Russian Federation is not a member of these bodies, the country cooperates with them, as well as with a number of their subsidiary structures. The session was aimed to facilitate better understanding by participants of tasks, functions and achievements of RFBs in sustainable fisheries, aquaculture resources management, climate change mitigation, water and coastal ecosystems restoration, biodiversity conservation and resolution of socioeconomic problems of the sector. 

Overviewing the modality of international cooperation in fisheries, Alejandro Anganuzzi, Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project Coordinator, FAO Headquarters (Rome), explained that “market and civil society interest has brought accountability, more transparency, and incentives for change, often through certification schemes. Basic regulatory framework is in place. Now, fine-tuning through lessons has been learned, membership expanded, with better participation.” 

At present, “precautionary approach via adoption of harvest strategies/ management procedures is on-going in many Regional fisheries management organisation (RFMOs).” The order of the day demands «strengthening of compliance by the member states” and focusing on “ecosystem approach with multiple strategies, consideration of impact of fishing operations.”  

According to FAO expert, “decision-making under a multi-national framework will continue to be challenging, but is the only viable way for joint management of regional resources.” In this respect, it is important to note that «FAO continues to play a key role in supporting the crucial role of RFBs.” 

Defining the role of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), Huseyin Ozbilgin, and Officer for the BlackSea4Fish project, noted the focus on the development, conservation, sustainable management, and optimal use of marine biological resources of the Mediterranean and the Black seas. Apart from these key tasks, the specialist said, GFCM is also responsible for carrying out the following mission: “Keep exploitation of fish stocks sustainable; Enhance rational aquaculture; Make fisheries and aquaculture activities compatible with the proper functioning of sensitive ecosystems.” 

Making an introduction to the portfolio of obligations of his organization, Haydar Fersoy, Secretary, Central Asian and Caucasus Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission (CACFish), Stressed that to achieve its objectives, CACFish has the following functions and responsibilities: “Keep under review the state of living aquatic resources, including their abundance and the level of their exploitation, as well as the state of the fisheries and aquaculture; Formulate and recommend appropriate measures for the conservation and rational management of living aquatic resources, and the implementation of these recommendations; Keep under review the economic and social aspects of the fishing and aquaculture industry and recommend any measures aimed at its development.” 

Political and legal challenges of global fisheries management in the context of sustainable development were presented to the audience by Dr Damir Bekyashev, head of VNIRO Department of International Fisheries Law and professor of Moscow State Institute of International Relations.  

“The principle of sustainable use of marine living resources is reflected in the legislation of a number of leading fishing states (USA, Norway, Japan, etc.) and acts of the European Union. Thus, this principle has become one of the fundamental international legal principles of fisheries management at the present stage. It found its consolidation in international treaties of a universal, regional, bilateral nature, as well as in international acts of recommendation,” postulated Dr Bekyashev. 

Citing analysis by FAO experts, Dr Bekyashev enumerated the most acute problems of fisheries. First and foremost, the world community faces “negative consequences for the fishing and aquaculture industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Second comes the on-going IUU fishing. Third, we face the “reduction of stocks of marine living resources” and the urgent need of “conservation of marine biodiversity.” As a global challenge, the expert named “various restrictive barriers to trade in fish and fish products” as well as the “absence of Regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) in some regions.” 

Dr Bekyashev emphasized that “effective and sustainable management of marine resources based on the principles set out in SDG-14 will contribute to ensuring food security and nutrition for the entire population of the planet.”


The three-day Global Fishery Forum & Seafood Expo Russia 2021 proved that it ranked among key industry platforms and focal point for all fisheries professionals in the industry.