Fish for good in the developing world

Huffington Post
26 March 2014

Our oceans make up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, contain 80 percent of all biodiversity, drive global weather systems and have provided a wonderful and diverse bounty of seafood for millennia. Current harvests deliver nearly one-fifth of total human protein needs. Millions of livelihoods also depend upon this last great global industry harvesting a wild resource for food.

However, global fish stocks and our oceans are in trouble. Over the past five decades, production has increased fivefold as seafood consumption has outpaced global population growth. With the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN indicating that nearly 85 percent of assessed stocks are already either fully or over exploited or depleted, there is little room for further growth in production to meet growing demand, let alone the additional demands of an estimated two billion extra people by 2050.

Global seafood sales reached U.S. $217 billion in 2010, a figure that has been steadily climbing over the past three decades. The economic value of fishing activities is even more significant in the developing world. Some 357 million livelihoods depend on small-scale fisheries, while developing world export revenues have risen from U.S. $3.7 billion in 1980 to U.S. $27.7 billion in 2010 — more than other agricultural commodities such as rice, bananas, sugar, coffee and tobacco.

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