World Fisheries day is celebrated every year on November 21 throughout the world by fisherfolk communities. Fishing communities worldwide celebrate this day through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, dramas, exhibition, music show, and demonstrations to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries.
World Fisheries Day celebrations serve as an important reminder that we must focus on changing the way the world manages global fisheries to ensure sustainable stocks and healthy oceans ecosystems. Just last month the United Nations General Assembly called on countries that have not yet done so to become a party to the Law of the Sea regarding jurisdiction over national and international waters, as well as the seabed, and to maintain sustainable fisheries.
A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.
According to the report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP).Greener policies would still grow economies while reducing the ecological footprint by nearly 50 percent in the next 40 years, but some jobs would be lost as a result in sectors such as fisheries, according to the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) report. The report indicates that government subsidies in the fishing industry amount to about $27 billion a year and have created excess capacity and depleted fish stocks globally.
The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting the critical importance to human lives, of water and the lives it sustains. Water forms a continuum, whether contained in rivers, lakes, and ocean.
Besides the importance of water for survival and as a means of transportation, it is also an important source of fish and aquatic protein. Fish forms an important part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those that live near rivers, coasts and other bodies of water. A number of traditional societies and communities depend on fishing.
This is why a majority of human settlements, whether small villages or mega cities, are situated in close proximity to water bodies. However, these communities will be dramatically effected by coastal flooding due to global warming.
This proximity has also lead to severe ocean and coastal pollution from run-off and from domestic and industrial activities. This has led to depletion of fish stocks in the immediate vicinity, requiring fishermen to fish farther and farther away from their traditional grounds.
Mechanization has also resulted in a crisis as fish sticks are being depleted with the help of ‘factory’ vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing.
We must work together to find sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks. World Fisheries Day helps to highlight the problems, and encourage movement towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we face.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.