The biologically sustainable fish stock has fallen from 90% in 1974 to 65.8% in 2017.
Regional leaders urged to invest more in aquaculture as Caribbean fish stocks decline.
The issue was highlighted by the President of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, at the recent inaugural Caricom Agri Investment Forum and Expo.
Aquaculture refers to the farming, rearing and harvesting of fish, crustaceans and aquatic plants.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global fish production reached 179 million tonnes in 2018. Almost 50% of this production came from aquaculture, indicating that the world needs to become more deliberate about sustainable fishing.
“The state of marine fish stocks continues to decline, with the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels falling from 90% in 1974 to 65.8% in 2017,” Ali said.
He explained that the Caribbean is located in the FAO fishing area, called the Western Central Atlantic. However, “only 61.4% of the assessed stock was fished within biologically sustainable limits in 2017. Catches peaked at 2.5 million metric tons in 1984 and declined to 1.2 million metric tons in 2014. This represents a drop of 70%,” he added. continued.
Based on the data, Ali predicts that if this trend continues, by 2030 less than 50% of the Caribbean’s marine stocks will be fished sustainably.
But he noted that there is a solution.
ALI… so one could easily assume that marine stocks will continue to decline in the region and that any increase in fishing supply will come either from imports or from aquaculture production and expansion (Picture: Ron Przysucha)
“Management measures can solve this problem, but climate change can accelerate the decline even more. One could therefore easily assume that marine stocks will continue to decline in the region and that any increase in fishing supply will come either from imports , or aquaculture production and expansion, the choice is ours,” he said.
Ali further told the regional audience “in 2020, we imported nearly 100,000 metric tons of fish and fish products worth nearly US$340 million.”
“The decision is therefore very simple, if we want to secure our production, we must act and develop our aquaculture industry because extra-regional supplies will become more expensive given the expected global decline. Extra-regional aquaculture supplies will be even more expensive given the sharp increase in the cost of inputs such as animal feed.
He explained that the proposed path must be to improve the management of the fisheries sector, which includes:
-invest in aquaculture to supply farms of freshwater and saltwater species,
-replace falling catches,
-invest in aquaculture to produce fish products to replace declining supply,
-invest in agriculture to produce the skill for the supply of feed for aquaculture,
-allowing the feeding and production of farmed fish and shrimp to convert the waste and by-products of captured fishing,
-produce fish and meal for aquaculture feed
-facilitate the supply of cheap energy to enable the processing of soybeans into soybean meal
-facilitate strategic business development partnership between the private sector, fish farmers, financial institutions, governments and markets.
The main objective of the Caricom Agri Investment Forum and Expo is reflected in its theme “Investing in Vision 25 by 2025” which refers to the community’s goal of reducing the food import bill by 25% in three years. .
The forum took place as global food insecurity increased; because there are disruptions in global supply chains; and in recognition that the region has immense opportunities in the agricultural sector.
A communiqué from the Caricom Secretariat stressed that “strategies to achieve the goal of reducing the food import bill and ensuring food security must be based on a framework that involves the community, the private sector and partners. international donors, and underpinned by multilateral support, particularly in the areas of policy intervention, institutional strengthening, investment and sector financing.