Thursday, February 26, 2009

FAO fisheries report likely to have bad news

On March 2, the Food and Agriculture Organization will release its biennial report on the State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA). The news is not likely to be good.
Although figures are not typically broken out by gender, it is clear that the decline in fisheries will hit the millions of women work in fisheries particularly hard. According to the FAO's 2006 SOFIA:
Women participate as entrepreneurs and by providing labour before, during and after the catch in both artisanal and commercial fisheries. Their labour often consists of making and mending nets, baskets and pots and baiting hooks. In fishing, women are rarely engaged in commercial offshore and deep-sea waters, but more commonly involved in fishing from small boats and canoes in coastal or inland waters – harvesting bivalves, molluscs and pearls, collecting seaweed and setting nets or traps. Women also play an important role in aquaculture, where they attend to fish ponds, feed and harvest fish, and collect prawn larvae and fish fingerlings. However, women’s most important role in both artisanal and industrial fisheries is at the processing and marketing stages. In some countries, women have become important entrepreneurs in fish processing; in fact, most fish processing is performed by women, either in their own cottage-level industries or as wage labourers in the large-scale processing industry.
Overfishing has already put fisheries around the world under terrible pressure. Climate change is likely to further decimate fish stocks.
Along with diminishing wetlands, mangrove swamps and other nursery areas, and pollution, climate change and overfishing make food insecurity more likely for the 2.6 billion people dependent on fish as a primary source of protein. (map credit)
The affected people tend to be clustered in many of the same countries with the highest levels of food insecurity to begin with. As a result, these countries already start off less resilient to social and environmental challenges. This is just one of the many environmental justice issues we can expect to confront as the effects of global warming multiply.
It was gratifying that President Obama called for carbon trading in his Address to Congress. But, when markets cannot manage to accurately value and trade financial instruments, it is hard to imagine how they will be able to value carbon, with all its many unquantifiable effects.

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