The underappreciated livelihood contributions of inland fisheries and the societal consequences of their neglect


So-Jung Youn; Edward H. Allison; Carlos Fuentevilla; Simon Funge-Smith; Heather Triezenberg; Melissa Parker; Shakuntala Thilsted; Paul Onyango; Wisdom Akpalu; Gordon Holtgrieve; Molly J. Good; Stephanie Muise

Journal or Book Title: Freshwater, Fish, and the Future

Page Number(s): 108-120

Year Published: 2016


Inland fisheries provide important contributions to human well-being, but these contributions are often overlooked or undervalued by decision makers. Consequently, inland fisheries are not adequately considered in either global fisheries sustainability initiatives - which are generally marine-focused - or in the use of freshwater resource planning in an era of water crisis. Here we synthesize the state of knowledge of the contribution of inland freshwater fisheries to human well-being. To date, there has been no coordinated global valuation of the ecosystem service contributions of inland fisheries, and it is thus only possible to highlight the range of services they provide from isolated case studies. Throughout these studies, human nutrition emerges as a key value, with freshwater fish providing essential nutrients in countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh, which are endowed with productive freshwater fisheries. Inland fisheries also provide livelihoods, income, economic autonomy, dietary diversity, cultural identity, and social structure to tens of millions of people around the world. The diversity of fishing methods, conservation strategies, and traditional ways of managing fisheries enriches the human experience and represents a source of cultural and technical knowledge and human institutional ingenuity. In this paper, we review what is known about approaches for assigning values to freshwater fisheries and identify methods to better assess and communicate those values to decision makers and the public in order to increase representation of inland fisheries in natural resource decision-making processes. Most importantly, we focus on the contributions of inland fisheries to food security, nutrition, community cohesion, and improved livelihoods. This paper also explores approaches that consider the knowledge and perspective of fishers, fish workers, other aquatic resource users, and their communities to augment and improve the knowledge and perspective of scientists and resource managers in better managing freshwater fisheries resources. We also stress the importance of ensuring that assessments explicitly consider gender relations and roles in inland fisheries and fishing-dependent societies. Better recognition and valuation of the economic, nutrition, and social benefits that inland fisheries provide to human communities is an essential step toward better incorporating inland fisheries into future water and food security policies.

Type of Publication: Book Chapter


Taylor, W. W.; Bartley D. M.; Goddard. C. I.; LĂ©onard, N. J.; Welcomme, R.

Publisher: FAO

Location: Rome, Italy