World Fisheries day is celebrated every year on 21 November throughout the world by fishing communities.
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.
The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting the critical importance to human lives, of water and the lives it sustains, both in and out of water. Water forms a continuum, whether contained in rivers, lakes, and ocean.
Fish forms an important part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those that live near rivers, coasts and other water bodies. A number of traditional societies and communities are rallied around the occupation of fishing.
This is why a majority of human settlements, whether small villages or mega cities, are situated in close proximity to water bodies. Besides the importance of water for survival and as a means of transportation, it is also an important source of fish and aquatic protein.
But this proximity has also lead to severe ocean and coastal pollution from run-off and from domestic and industrial acticities carried out near-by. This has led to depetion of fish stocks in the immediate vicinity, requiring fishermen to fish farther and farther away from their traditional grounds.
Besides, overfishing and mechanisation has also resulted in a crisis - fish sticks are being depleted through 'factory' vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing methods.
Unless we address these issues collectively, the crisis will deepen. The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we are facing, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.
Facts on fisheries
- Small-scale fisheries (marine and inland) employ about 90 percent of those involved in fisheries.
- 65 percent of the reported catch from inland fisheries is from low-income food-deficit countries.
- Estimates vary, but from around 30 million to over 60 million people in the developing world are involved in inland fisheries; it is thought that about 50 percent are women.
- More than 25% of the world’s dietary protein is provided by fish.
- The human population consumes over 100 million tons of fish annually
- Over 200 million of Africa’s 1 billion people regularly consume fish and nearly half of this comes from inland fisheries.
- Eat more fish: This is an alternative source of protein that may form part of a balanced diet.
- Take care of your environment: Take care of rivers, dams and the sea as these are important habitats for fish and aquatic organisms.
- For information on fisheries and aquaculture, contact the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries:
Telephone: 012 319 6000