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Review of the State of the World Fishery Resources: Inland Fisheries

by last modified Apr 23, 2012

The fishery statistics reported to FAO by countries and maintained in the FishStat database are analysed for trends in quantity and composition of catches from 1950 to 2009. Catches have been increasing at a steady rate throughout the period. Fish from inland water capture fisheries are an important source of animal protein, especially in landlocked countries and for populations riparian to lakes and rivers.

The fishery statistics reported to FAO by countries and maintained in the FishStat database are analysed for trends in quantity and composition of catches from 1950 to 2009. Catches have been increasing at a steady rate throughout the period. Fish from inland water capture fisheries are an important source of animal protein, especially in landlocked countries and for populations riparian to lakes and rivers. Finfish contribute about 90 percent of the catch together with some crustaceans and molluscs. The accuracy of reporting of catches by taxonomic group has improved with time and more groups are being reported in 2009 than in 1950. At the same time, the percentage of catches assigned to the generic “freshwater fishes NEI” category has declined. Trends in catches and taxonomic groups are analysed for subcontinental regions under a more general continental heading. The regions are divided mainly by geography, although in some cases economic and political considerations are used. Catches in the various regions of Africa, Asia and South and Central America have risen steadily over the period of the review, although there are local exceptions to the general trend. There is clear evidence that such increases are real in some individual fisheries, but generally the increases are attributed to improvements in reporting, whereby catches that were already there but previously ignored are now being incorporated into the reports. Catches in North America, and most of Europe, have declined in the same period, which is attributed to shifts in economic conditions that make fishing not longer financially viable, and a greater public demand for recreational fishing. Catches from eastern Europe and the Russian Federation declined from a maximum in the 1980s, but have shown some signs of recovery in the last decade. In general, the world’s inland fisheries still appear viable although environmental pressures, such as damming, water abstraction and overexploitation, pose a potential threat to the maintenance of present levels of reproduction and recruitment, and hence, ultimately catch.