Global Fishing Trade Takes Jobs and Food From Poor, Says U.N.
UNITED NATIONS — Governments must do more to protect their fishers from being crowded out of the water by industrial fleets that export their catch rather than feed locals and take away jobs, a U.N. human rights investigator said this week.
"Fisheries provide both food and livelihoods, particularly for poor and marginalized communities living in coastal areas, but also inland communities dependent on freshwater fishing or traditional methods of raising fish," Jean Ziegler, a U.N. expert on the right to food, said in a new report.
"In the drive to industrialize, privatize, and orient fish production toward exports, poor fishing and fish-farming communities are often left behind," he said.
Ziegler, appointed by the Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights, is scheduled to report his findings to a General Assembly committee Wednesday.
While developing nations exported US$18 billion in fish in 2000 compared to $10 billion in 1990, "it is not clear whether the income gained from these exports is generally benefiting poorer fishing communities, given the simultaneous shift towards the privatization of fishing resources," he said.
The same may be true of fish farming, which takes place mostly in the developing world and could surpass the traditional capture of fish by 2020, he said.
While farming has promoted food security in China, where most operations are small-scale and most of what is produced is consumed locally, this is not the case in nations where the practice is pursued on an industrial scale and export-oriented, he said.
Governments should therefore take steps to protect livelihoods and access to food and fishing resources as the industry evolves, Ziegler said.
"Hunger is not inevitable. Nor is it acceptable," he said. "There is no secret as to how to eradicate hunger, there is no need for new technologies. There is simply the need for political commitment to challenge existing policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer," he said.