Michigan State University is joining forces with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to promote research and program development addressing the many challenges faced by inland fisheries across the globe. This January, the two organizations co-sponsored the first-ever Global Conference on Inland Fisheries at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. President Lou Anna K. Simon joined dozens of MSU academic researchers, students, and professors for the event.
What’s The Point?
Inland fisheries, primarily in developing nations, are at risk due to industrial development and societal growth. We are ever-increasing our competition for fresh water use, be it through hydropower, agriculture, or industry.
In the developed world, concern is admittedly muted. While there are concerns and debate surrounding freshwater fishery development, informed policy and governance is leaps and bounds beyond what exists elsewhere on the globe.
Questions In The ‘Under-developed’ World
Michigan State says that “more than 60 million people in low-income nations are estimated to rely on inland fisheries for their livelihood. More than half are women often directly providing for their families. In the developed world, freshwater fisheries are the backbone of lucrative recreation and sport industries.”
The problems are extensive and the needs many. Who are the primary and secondary drivers influencing aquatic development? How can this understanding drive more effective policy and governance? Can that new regulatory structure and knowledge base help develop and inform long-term strategic development for sustainability?
These are but some of the questions Michigan State will address and hope to sufficiently answer.
Elephant In The Room
The objectives are noble and long-term sustainability depends on a more complete understanding of our usage and development of inland fisheries. But there’s an elephant in the room and everything starts there. According to Bill Taylor, University Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries Systems, there’s a pretty significant problem—we have very little data and what we do have is inaccurate. In fact, in 2010 only 156 of 230 countries even reported their inland fisheries data to the FAO.
Photo Credit: Global Conference On Inland Fisheries