Healthy Oceans are Key to Alleviate Global Poverty
The fishing market is a crucial component of both developing economies and the global economy, acting as an essential food source for millions living along seashores and waterways. It is undeniable that healthy oceans provide a great sense of poverty alleviation.

In 2012 alone, global fish production reached 153 million tons, accounting for 16.5 percent of the world’s animal proteins and essential micronutrients. As the demand for fishery products continues to rise, fisheries are in dire need of solutions to climate change, water pollution and other environmental concerns that directly affect the fishing industry.

“Healthy oceans are critical for combatting rural poverty, ensuring food security, improving nutrition and achieving zero hunger,” José Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced at the African Ministerial Conference on Ocean Economies and Climate Change.

Global warming, rising sea levels and saltwater intrusions are only some of the biggest threats to coastal communities.

The FAO estimates that 10-12 percent of the world’s population rely on fisheries and aquaculture for financial and physical survival. About 38 million people worldwide are fishers and fish-farmers, 95 percent of whom live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Developing nations are responsible for 90 percent of the 100 percent increase in fish consumption since 1973. Currently, small-scale fisheries provide 50 percent of fish products used for consumption worldwide.

Small-scale fisheries improve economies and develop nations, contributing up to seven percent of national GDPs in some countries. Coastal communities account for 61 percent of the world’s gross national product (GNP), according to the World Bank.

Local fishing industries both reduce and prevent poverty at the household level through employment and economic opportunities. The FAO reports that the majority of households in developing countries involved with fishing kept from going further into poverty.

“For billions around the world — especially the world’s poorest — healthy oceans mean jobs, food and protection,” the World Bank writes in an article. “Healthy waters are crucial for growth and food production in developing countries.” Thus, the World Bank, the FAO and other organizations have called for sustainable solutions to reverse or lessen the effects of climate change and environmental destruction.

The World Bank, for example, has an active ocean-improvement program worth $5.4 billion, which provides funding for coastal infrastructure, ocean habitat conservation and other related projects. The organization also has educational programs to provide information on oceans and fisheries for developing nations.

Ashley Leon

Photo: Flickr