From: Dulue Mbachu, Associated Press
Published August 26, 2005 12:00 AM

Global Coalition Meeting in Nigeria Unveils New Initiative To Save Falling Fish Stocks

LAGOS, Nigeria — Some of the world's biggest international agencies are launching a global initiative to help developing countries manage dwindling fish stocks by curbing illegal fishing and halting the deterioration of marine ecosystems, the World Bank said Thursday.


Representatives of the World Bank, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture and other organizations agreed this week to arrange an oversight body called ProFish to help poor countries hit by falling fish stores, the bank said in a statement Thursday as a four-day conference addressing the problem wrapped up in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.


"ProFish will address the issues of illegal fishing (and) subsidies," while "raising awareness in favor of sustainable fisheries policies," the bank said. The new body also will focus on the protection of undersea environments.


Surging demand, rising populations in coastal areas, new fishing technologies and weak government regulation have pushed "many of the world's fisheries to the brink of collapse," the bank said.


Half of the world's fish stocks have reached the limit of their yield, while poor control over growing fishing fleets has resulted in more people competing for a resource now in decline, it said.


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In a study released this week, the World Bank said that between US$14 billion and US$20 billion a year in rich nations' subsidies to their own fleets, which then range across the globe, fueling the overfishing and contributing to a sharp drop in world fish stocks.


At risk are the livelihoods of the world's 38 million full-time fishers and more than 150 million others, mainly in poor countries, who depend on related activities for a living, the World Bank says.


"Many fishers live in the world's poorest countries, where fisher communities are often marginalized and landless and fishing is the livelihood of last resort," said Kevin Cleaver, the World Bank's director for agriculture and rural development.


"Natural disasters and overfishing perpetuates a spiral into poverty for many of these fishers and communities dependent on fishing," he said.


African political leaders who met with international experts under the continent's new development initiative, known as NEPAD, agreed that new investments and technical skills in fish-farming and aquaculture were imperative to reverse its declining fish supplies.


Source: Associated Press


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