Inland fisheries the key to future food security

By Malaka Rodrigo

As over-fishing continues to deplete the world’s stocks of marine fish, fish-consuming countries will be compelled to turn to aqua culture, or internal fisheries, to ensure future food security.

Professor Sena de Silva made this point at the 17th session of the Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (SAFAR). The two-day session featured some 30 scientific papers presented under the banner, “Aquatic Resources in a Changing World: Present Trends and Future Strategies.” The session was held recently at the NARA auditorium.

Marine fish such as tuna will all but disappear if unsustainable fishing continued over the next decade, Prof. de Silva said. It would therefore be wise to start looking at improving inland fisheries, he added.
The fact that the Indian Ocean borders some of the world’s most populous nations means the ocean’s fish resources are highly threatened, said special speaker Dr. Rudolf Hermes of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Reserve project.

These countries not only extract food resources through intensive fishing but also release tons of pollutants that threaten fish stocks and the sea’s ecosystem.

Kelawalla near threatened by over-fishing

The popular edible fish Kelawalla (Yellow-fin Tuna) is a "near threatened" species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The world's commercially targeted fish are in decline mainly because of unsustainable fishing practices, participants in the 17th session of the Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources heard. The IUCN's recent Red List shows that five of the eight tuna species are either threatened or near threatened because of over-fishing.

Tuna accounts for more than 42 per cent of Sri Lanka's total fish catch, and 49 per cent of the total marine fish catch - about 143,000 tons.

The Yellow-fin Tuna (Kelawalla), the Skipjack (balaya), and the Big-eye Tuna, once found in abundance, are fast dwindling in numbers.

Related Article: Kelawalla near threatened by over-fishing

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