Speaking at a meeting of the world's only inter-governmental forum on fisheries and aquaculture issues, Graziano da Silva called for urgent action to address climate change and other threats to sustainable fisheries and fish stocks. The FAO chief said fisheries and aquaculture make a ‘central contribution to food security and nutrition’ – adding that sustainable development in the world's island and coastal states was especially dependent on the ‘vitality of oceans and fish stocks.’
"Overfishing, pollution and climate change are putting this vitality at risk. The impacts are already evident," said Graziano da Silva.
"I want to stress the urgency of individual and collective action to address climate change, one of the most pressing challenges the world faces today," he said, adding that FAO was making it a priority in its work to improve sustainable development through its ‘Blue Growth Initiative’.
The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) opened its 9-13 June session to address issues related to the long-term wellbeing of marine and inland fisheries and aquaculture, and to discuss potential action by governments, regional fishery bodies, NGOs, fish workers and other actors in the international community.
Vital protein source
Graziano da Silva pointed out that fisheries and aquaculture are the sources of 17% of the animal protein consumed in the world and up to 50% in some Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Asian countries.
It is also central to the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable families in the world.
“The world's poor, in rural and coastal areas, are among the most affected,” he commented.
"The livelihoods of 12% of the world's population depend on this sector. In particular, small-scale fisheries are the source of employment for more than 90% of the world's capture fishers and fish workers, about half of whom are women," he said.
"At the same time that small-scale fishers supply most of the fish consumed in the developing world, many of their families are food-insecure themselves. This is a paradox that we are working together to overcome," said the FAO director-general, stressing that small-scale fishers are an integral part of efforts to improve sustainability and food security.