Recently, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced The Vibrant Oceans Initiative that will provide $53 million in grants over five years to revitalize marine fisheries in developing countries. This is welcome news. Especially interesting is their decision to support new approaches for financing fisheries reform through the impact investment group EKO Asset Management Partners.
Impact investing to solve social and environmental problems is not new, but the idea of using this to support reform in the fisheries sector is innovative. The basic premise is that if over-exploited fisheries can be put back onto a sustainable path, fish yields will increase. This should mean that financial returns to the fisheries should also increase. If deals can be structured so that investors share in the returns, every body wins.
It’s a seductive idea, but not without challenges. Reforming fisheries is often difficult and the pathways to achieving success are rarely straightforward. This is particularly true for developing countries where most fisheries are characterized by large numbers of small-scale fishers for whom alternative livelihoods are scarce. Continue reading
Nam Gnouang Dam (60MW), on a tributary of the Nam Theun River in Laos.
Eric Baran guest blogs about the increasing competition between hydropower and fisheries in the Mekong Basin, a WorldFish focus country.
The Mekong River is a goldmine. It features the world’s largest inland fishery, producing around 2.1 million tonnes of fish each year, which represents about 18% of the world’s annual freshwater fish catch.
Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam hold the four world records for freshwater fish consumption per person, and fish is the second food item consumed after rice in Cambodia and Laos. Capture fish is essential to food security in the latter countries where the livestock and aquaculture sectors are not developed. Mekong fisheries are also important to the economy of the basin, netting each year between USD $4 – $7 billion on retail markets and substantially contributing to employment in the four countries.
Fishing boat in Timor Leste
It’s easy to forget just how environmentally friendly wild capture fisheries are as a means for providing food. Jessica Gephart and her colleagues remind us.
At WorldFish, we spend a lot of time thinking about how improving fisheries and aquaculture can reduce poverty and hunger. We focus our research on how fishing and aquaculture can increase incomes and improve rural economies and how we can increase the affordability and availability of fish to improve health and nutrition among vulnerable populations. Less often do we think about how fishing and aquaculture can save scarce resources.
Annual Report 2012/2013
It is the time of year to reflect on and celebrate the year’s achievements. For WorldFish, it’s been an exceptional year. Increased investment by our donors has allowed us to broaden and deepen our engagement with communities on the ground and our research and development partners. Most importantly, increased investment has increased our impact.
To give you a sense of our achievements and the range of work we do, our Annual Report this year focuses on three stories: the success of aquaculture in Egypt, improved livelihoods in Bangladesh, and conflict and collaboration over natural resources in Zambia, Cambodia and Uganda.
With so much happening at WorldFish, it seems unfair to highlight these few examples, but, in our information-saturated world, brevity is usually welcome. I hope that by keeping it short you are encouraged to read more and be inspired by the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce poverty and increase food.
Indisputably, China is a major global influencer. Like many other sectors, the current and future dynamics of fisheries and aquaculture are significantly affected by what happens in the country. China’s share of the world’s fish production rose from 6% in 1980 to 35% in 2012. It is also now the world’s top exporter of fish, with 30% of the global export market, and the third largest importer after the United States and Japan. Fish consumption in China has also increased dramatically, from about 5kg/person/year in 1980 to about 35kg in 2010 1.