164551_797910294226_6952252_nCarleton University’s Steven Cooke, Canada Research Chair in Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology, along with and researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom released a new paper today on the global importance of inland fisheries.

(See a video abstract of the paper here)

“What is of great concern is that more than half of the habitat where inland fish reside is threatened, so populations may be lost before they are properly documented,” said Cooke.

Inland capture fisheries are crucial to global food security, according to this first global review. They are often overshadowed by the attention devoted to marine capture fisheries.

The paper shows that although aquaculture and inland capture fisheries contribute a significant component of the world’s finfish production, their harvest is greatly under-reported. The authors suggest that inland fish are undervalued and rarely considered in policy decisions related to water management.

Food and economic security top the list in terms of the value delivered by inland fish. They provide food for billions of people and support livelihoods for millions worldwide. They provide the primary animal protein consumed by many of the world’s rural poor, especially those in developing countries.

Inland fisheries support at least 21 million fishers, many of whom live in low-income countries and rely on these fisheries for both subsistence and their livelihood. Inland fish also provide important forms of recreation and many inland fish are used as models in biomedical research. Inland fish can also be used to control mosquito populations.

The authors caution that inland fisheries are more important than research is able to document because harvest amounts are vastly underestimated, particularly in remote areas and in developing countries. Only one-third of countries with inland fisheries submit catch statistics to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.

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