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close this bookBriefs for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment - 2020 Vision : Brief 1 - 64 (IFPRI)
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View the document2020 BRIEF 1 - AUGUST 1994: ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
View the document2020 BRIEF 2 - AUGUST 1994: WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND PROJECTIONS FOR CEREALS, 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 3 - AUGUST 1994: WORLD PRODUCTION OF CEREALS, 1966-90
View the document2020 BRIEF 4 - AUGUST 1994: SUSTAINABLE FARMING: A POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY
View the document2020 BRIEF 5 - OCTOBER 1994: WORLD POPULATION PROJECTIONS, 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 6 - OCTOBER 1994: MALNUTRITION AND FOOD INSECURITY PROJECTIONS, 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 7 - OCTOBER 1994: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH AS A KEY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION
View the document2020 BRIEF 8 - OCTOBER 1994: CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
View the document2020 BRIEF 9 - FEBRUARY 1995: THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE IN SAVING THE RAIN FOREST
View the document2020 BRIEF 10 - FEBRUARY 1995: A TIME OF PLENTY, A WORLD OF NEED: THE ROLE OF FOOD AID IN 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 11 - FEBRUARY 1995: MANAGING AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION
View the document2020 BRIEF 12 - FEBRUARY 1995: TRADE LIBERALIZATION AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 13 - APRIL 1995: THE POTENTIAL OF TECHNOLOGY TO MEET WORLD FOOD NEEDS IN 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 14 - APRIL 1995: AN ECOREGIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON MALNUTRITION
View the document2020 BRIEF 15 - APRIL 1995: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH IS THE KEY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN LOW-INCOME DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
View the document2020 BRIEF 16 - APRIL 1995: DECLINING ASSISTANCE TO DEVELOPING-COUNTRY AGRICULTURE: CHANGE OF PARADIGM?
View the document2020 BRIEF 17 - MAY 1995: GENERATING FOOD SECURITY IN THE YEAR 2020: WOMEN AS PRODUCERS, GATEKEEPERS, AND SHOCK ABSORBERS
View the document2020 BRIEF 18 - MAY 1995: BIOPHYSICAL LIMITS TO GLOBAL FOOD PRODUCTION
View the document2020 BRIEF 19 - MAY 1995: CAUSES OF HUNGER
View the document2020 BRIEF 20 - MAY 1995: CHINA AND THE FUTURE GLOBAL FOOD SITUATION
View the document2020 BRIEF 21 - JUNE 1995: DEALING WITH WATER SCARCITY IN THE NEXT CENTURY
View the document2020 BRIEF 22 - JUNE 1995: THE RIGHT TO FOOD: WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED AND POORLY PROTECTED
View the document2020 BRIEF 23 - JUNE 1995: CEREALS PROSPECTS IN INDIA TO 2020: IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY
View the document2020 BRIEF 24 - JUNE 1995: REVAMPING AGRICULTURAL R&D
View the document2020 BRIEF 25 - AUGUST 1995: MORE THAN FOOD IS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE GOOD NUTRITION BY 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 26 - AUGUST 1995: PERSPECTIVES ON EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE IN 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 27 - AUGUST 1995: NONDEGRADING LAND USE STRATEGIES FOR TROPICAL HILLSIDES
View the document2020 BRIEF 28 - AUGUST 1995: EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS FOR FOOD SECURITY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
View the document2020 BRIEF 29 - AUGUST 1995: POVERTY, FOOD SECURITY, AND THE ENVIRONMENT
View the document2020 BRIEF 30 - JANUARY 1996: RISING FOOD PRICES AND FALLING GRAIN STOCKS: SHORT-RUN BLIPS OR NEW TRENDS?
View the document2020 BRIEF 31 - APRIL 1996: MIDDLE EAST WATER CONFLICTS AND DIRECTIONS FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION
View the document2020 BRIEF 32 - APRIL 1996: THE TRANSITION IN THE CONTRIBUTION OF LIVING AQUATIC RESOURCES TO FOOD SECURITY
View the document2020 BRIEF 33 - JUNE 1996: MANAGING RESOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE IN SOUTH ASIA
View the document2020 BRIEF 34 - JUNE 1996: IMPLEMENTING THE URUGUAY ROUND: INCREASED FOOD PRICE STABILITY BY 2020?
View the document2020 BRIEF 35 - JULY 1996: SOCIOPOLITICAL EFFECTS OF NEW BIOTECHNOLOGIES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
View the document2020 BRIEF 36 - OCTOBER 1996: RUSSIA'S FOOD ECONOMY IN TRANSITION: WHAT DO REFORMS MEAN FOR THE LONG-TERM OUTLOOK?
View the document2020 BRIEF 37 - OCTOBER 1996: UNCOMMON OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY - An Agenda for Science and Public Policy
View the document2020 BRIEF 38 - OCTOBER 1996: WORLD TRENDS IN FERTILIZER USE AND PROJECTIONS TO 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 39 - OCTOBER 1996: REDUCING POVERTY AND PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT: THE OVERLOOKED POTENTIAL OF LESS-FAVORED LANDS
View the document2020 BRIEF 40 - OCTOBER 1996: POLICIES TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FERTILIZER USE AND SUPPLY TO 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 41 - DECEMBER 1996: STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN THE DEMAND FOR FOOD IN ASIA
View the document2020 BRIEF 42 - MARCH 1997: AFRICA'S CHANGING AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
View the document2020 BRIEF 43 - JUNE 1997: THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF AIDS ON POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH RATES
View the document2020 BRIEF 44 - JUNE 1997: LAND DEGRADATION IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD: ISSUES AND POLICY OPTIONS FOR 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 45 - JUNE 1997: AGRICULTURE, TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN LATIN AMERICA: A 2020 PERSPECTIVE
View the document2020 BRIEF 46 - JUNE 1997: AGRICULTURE, TRADE, AND REGIONALISM IN SOUTH ASIA
View the document2020 BRIEF 47 - AUGUST 1997: THE NONFARM SECTOR AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT: REVIEW OF ISSUES AND EVIDENCE
View the document2020 BRIEF 48 - FEBRUARY 1998: CHALLENGES TO THE 2020 VISION FOR LATIN AMERICA: FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SINCE 1970
View the document2020 BRIEF 49 - APRIL 1998: NUTRITION SECURITY IN URBAN AREAS OF LATIN AMERICA
View the document2020 BRIEF 50 - JUNE 1998: FOOD FROM PEACE: BREAKING THE LINKS BETWEEN CONFLICT AND HUNGER
View the document2020 BRIEF 51 - JULY 1998: TECHNOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINING WHEAT PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH TOWARD 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 52 - SEPTEMBER 1998: PEST MANAGEMENT AND FOOD PRODUCTION: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
View the document2020 BRIEF 53 - OCTOBER 1998: POPULATION GROWTH AND POLICY OPTIONS IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
View the document2020 BRIEF 54 - OCTOBER 1998: FOSTERING GLOBAL WELL-BEING: A NEW PARADIGM TO REVITALIZE AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
View the document2020 BRIEF 55 - OCTOBER 1998: THE POTENTIAL OF AGROECOLOGY TO COMBAT HUNGER IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
View the document2020 RESUMEN No. 56 - OCTUBRE DE 1998: AYUDA A LA AGRICULTURA EN LOS PAÍSES EN DESARROLLO: INVERSIONES EN LA REDUCCIÓN DE LA POBREZA Y NUEVAS OPORTUNIDADES DE EXPORTACIÓN
View the document2020 BRIEF 57 - OCTOBER 1998: ECONOMIC CRISIS IN ASIA: A FUTURE OF DIMINISHING GROWTH AND INCREASING POVERTY?
View the document2020 BRIEF 58 - FEBRUARY 1999: SOIL DEGRADATION: A THREAT TO DEVELOPING-COUNTRY FOOD SECURITY BY 20207
View the document2020 BRIEF 59 - MARCH 1999: AGRICULTURAL GROWTH, POVERTY ALLEVIATION, AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: HAVING IT ALL
View the document2020 BRIEF 60 - MAY 1999: CRITICAL CHOICES FOR CHINA'S AGRICULTURAL POLICY
View the document2020 BRIEF 61 - MAY 1999: LIVESTOCK TO 2020: THE NEXT FOOD REVOLUTION
View the document2020 BRIEF 62 - OCTOBER 1999: NUTRIENT DEPLETION IN THE AGRICULTURAL SOILS OF AFRICA
View the document2020 BRIEF 63 - NOVEMBER 1999: PROSPECTS FOR INDIA'S CEREAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND TO 2020
View the document2020 BRIEF 64 - FEBRUARY 2000: OVERCOMING CHILD MALNUTRITION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: PAST ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE CHOICES
View the document2020 BRIEF 65 - MARCH 2000: COMBINING INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL INPUTS FOR SUSTAINABLE INTENSIFICATION

2020 BRIEF 32 - APRIL 1996: THE TRANSITION IN THE CONTRIBUTION OF LIVING AQUATIC RESOURCES TO FOOD SECURITY

Meryl Williams

Meryl Williams is director general of the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management in Manila, the Philippines.

The fishing industry's aggressive and expanding search for fish from the sea reached a turning point in 1990. After many years of increasing production, the global marine and inland catch from natural stocks declined from the 1989 peak of about 89 million tons to 85 million tons in 1993. Aquaculture production did not increase enough to meet the shortfall, and total production also fell in 1990 and 1991 (Figure 1).

It now appears doubtful that the global catch will recover and resume the fairly steady production increases that marked the period from the 1940s through the 1980s. Of the 200 fished stocks in all parts of the world, it is estimated that only about a third of these stocks are capable of increasing harvests. About one-fourth are overexploited and would produce greater catches only if returned to a healthier state, while about 38 percent are fully exploited and could not produce more without depleting the base stock (Figure 2).

Present indications are that production from natural stocks will be below the current level in the year 2020; at best, it will maintain its present level. Gains from better handling of catch, more use of "bycatch" (nontarget and discarded marine species), and the exploitation of the few remaining underused stocks will likely be at least offset by losses from poor management, protection of areas and species from fishing, and declining carrying capacity as a result of continuing environmental degradation.

Over the next 25 years the challenge will be to maintain present or near-present levels of natural harvest while sustainably increasing aquaculture production. Marine and inland aquaculture production doubled between 1984 and 1993, reaching 16.3 million tons. Production increases should continue through 2020. But aquaculture will probably not eclipse production from marine stocks and will not rise fast enough to maintain the present per capita supply of aquatic products to a growing world population.

Aquaculture production will increase sporadically through the introduction of new areas, species, and practices and through increased production from existing systems. Major setbacks will occur from time to time as a result of disease, pollution, and poor management practices. Furthermore, other agricultural, industrial, and urban activities will compete vigorously for high-quality water, space, and other inputs such as feed, fertilizers, labor, and capital.

The next few transition decades pose a host of uncertainties for users of fisheries, consumers, and management institutions. It is also a time of opportunities, when even small actions could have important effects.

A great deal is at stake. Valued at US$70 billion in 1991, aquatic resources make up 19 percent of total animal protein consumed and 4 percent of total protein consumed. About 1 billion people - a fifth of the global population - rely on fish as their primary source of protein. About 50 million people are involved in small-scale fisheries through catching, processing, and marketing. Overall, fish production provides employment for about 150 million people.


Figure 1 - World population and fisheries and aquaculture production, 1961-93 with upper and lower projections to 2010

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Fishery statistics: Catches and landings, 1991, Yearbook of fishery statistics 72 (Rome, 1993); Safeguarding future fish supplies: Key policy issues and measures, KC/FI/95/1 (Rome, 1995).

Note: Projections are based on a major expansion in aquaculture (to 39 million metric tons) and a reversal in the decline of capture fisheries through good management and better use.

FACING THE TRANSITION: FIVE KEY ISSUES

A successful transition requires careful attention to five key issues. The first is maximizing the use of aquatic resources.

Efficiency improvements, such as reducing postharvest losses, hold great potential. Losses could be minimized by better handling of the product and the development of aquaculture species and strains that travel better to markets or the home table. Donors and investors should make more development investments in postharvest operations than in fishing vessels and gear.

It is also important to keep in mind that aquatic resources can be used either as high-quality food or indirectly for other economic ends such as livestock and aquaculture feed, crop fertilizer, food and nonfood additives, or as bases for the production of industrial, medical, and other chemicals through the application of marine biotechnology. Nonfood uses may be either more or less valuable than the value of fish sold for human food. The critical question to ask of lower-priced uses is whether a greater contribution could be made by using the resources more directly for human food or for some higher-priced alternative.


Figure 2 - Status of the world's 200 main fish stocks, 1990

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Review of the state of world fishery resources, Part 1, The marine resources, FAO Fisheries Circular 710 (Rev. 8) (Rome, 1992).

The second critical issue is resource management. In some respects this is an especially important matter because it is not yet clear how the management of fisheries should be improved.

One of the classic problems of fisheries is that they are open access resources, which often leads to overexploitation and economic inefficiency. In developed-country fisheries, the attempt to limit access has led to schemes to limit the number of fishers by regulated licensing and input restrictions and by the creation of output restraints such as quotas. Despite a high degree of regulation, many developed-country fisheries are suffering overexploitation, and there is increasing evidence of poor compliance with management regulations. Most such schemes are not practical in small-scale fisheries in the developing world.

Equity is an important component of this issue. In the developing world, small-scale fishers frequently lose out to industrial-scale operators favored by national governments because of their contributions to markets, exports, and the national economy.

Many are now suggesting that conflicts can be diminished, management better implemented, and resources better managed when user groups help develop resource management options through comanagement with state-level authorities.

The third issue is intensification. Intensification of fisheries exploitation only yields greater production up to a limit; after that point, production can be increased only by reducing the intensity of exploitation to allow recovery of the resources. To set and control fishing intensification within the limits, managers need good scientific knowledge of the stock status and carrying capacity of the environment, appropriate management schemes, and good monitoring and compliance schemes. Destructive fishing practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing are common examples of inappropriate intensification.

There is potential for further intensification of aquaculture production, but great care is needed. There are already many examples of culture practices that have caused severe environmental degradation and outbreaks of chronic disease. In Taiwan, shrimp aquaculture production crashed from nearly 80,000 tons in 1987 to virtually nothing in 1991 as a result of such factors.

The fourth issue is the integration of fisheries and aquaculture. For too long these industries have been treated as separate sectors in isolation, a practice that has ignored important linkages. It is important to recognize the integral nature of fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems.

The fifth and final issue is the difficult problem of balancing national versus international interests. Aquatic resources generate tension over issues such as trade, local and international market competion for fish, demands for fisheries access by foreign fleets, illegal cross-border fishing, and management of shared stocks.

For example, trade is changing fish consumption patterns. As prices of fish increase, more is being traded and relatively less consumed by the producer. Small-scale and artisanal fishers are most likely to be marginalized under these conditions and will suffer both nutritional and employment losses.

If the price of fish keeps rising, low-income urban and rural fish consumers also will be adversely affected.

THE RESEARCH AGENDA

To date, research for aquatic resource management has consisted mainly of resource biology and stock assessment, gear development, a small amount of economic and social research, and some aquaculture development research. In the difficult period that lies ahead, this agenda no longer suffices.

More research is clearly needed on aquatic resources in the developing world. In many developing countries, fisheries products are major contributors to food security, and this contribution is now seriously threatened.

But research investments must be appropriate. When allocating scarce research resources, many developing countries choose to emphasize aquaculture technology rather than fisheries, probably since the impact of the former is usually clearer. This decision may be short-sighted, since the majority of production still comes from natural stocks.

In both the developing and the developed world, action - including research - must start now to ensure that living aquatic resources continue to make an important contribution to world food security.