By Abimbola Kintum
Fishery and aquaculture can potentially contribute more to improved global food security and nutrition, but efforts must be stepped up to ensure that further development is efficient, inclusive, sustainable, and recognises the vital role of small-scale fishers and fish farmers; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said recently.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, stated this at the opening of the 35th session of the Committees on Fisheries (COF135) the only global inter-governmental forum that provides recommendations and policy advice to governments, regional fishery bodies, civil society organizations, as well as the private sector and international community.
He said “ More important than ever, as we face many global challenges, fisheries and aquaculture play an increasingly important role in providing food, nutrition and jobs across the world.” He also recognizes the vital role of small-scale fishers and fish farmers, adding: “our valuable aquatic resources must be managed and used responsibly and sustainably, guided by the best science available” in what FAO terms a Blue Transformation.
FAO’S 2022 flagship report ‘State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture’ reveals, aquaculture has witnessed dramatic growth and consumer demand is expected to drive further expansion. The growth of aquaculture, particularly in Asia, lifted total production of fisheries and aquaculture to an all-time high of 214 million tonnes in 2020.
Global consumption of aquatic foods (excluding algae) has increased at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent since 1961, reaching 20.2 kg per capita, more than double consumption in the 1960s.
FAO is committed to ‘Blue Transformation’, a visionary initiative to meet the twin challenges of food security and environmental sustainability while ensuring equitable outcomes and gender equality. COFI35 will provide an opportunity to discuss this further in the context of advancing environment-friendly policy and practices, as well as technological innovation.
Qu also announced the launch of the first-ever FAO fish recipe book, the product of his initiative at the last session of COFI, inviting Members and FAO staff to share how they experience fish as food in their lives. The book combines food recipes from around the world with FAO’s technical information on the ecology, sustainability and nutritional content of the fish used in the recipes, some submitted by renowned chefs.
The COFI meeting (5-9 September) will discuss how to grow global aquaculture sustainably and equitably, improve fisheries management and increase efforts to eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and how to ensure biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the context of a changing climate.
The COFI opening session included remarks by Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Oceans and Rafael Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, with which FAO has extensive cooperation.