Michigan State University is teaming up with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to raise awareness of inland fisheries around the world and establish global policies and planning to preserve the vital resource.
The relationship is expected to include a visiting scholar program at MSU; student internships; a new assistant professorship in global inland fisheries ecology and management; and a hybrid online/fieldwork course.
“Through programs such as these we hope to elevate the profile of inland fisheries and aquaculture in global discussions on food and economic security, and on sustainable land development and water management,” says Lou Anna K. Simon, the university’s president. She adds that the programs will also help attract and develop globally aware talent who will be able to address the multidimensional challenges that inland fisheries face.
More than 60 million people in low-income nations are estimated to rely on inland fisheries for their livelihood, Simon says. More than half are women who are often directly providing for their families. In the developed world, freshwater fisheries are the backbone of lucrative recreation and sport industries.
Yet global competition for fresh water is increasing for municipal use, hydropower, industry, and agriculture, Simon says. As a result, rivers are being dammed and rerouted, lakes, and wetlands are being drained, and fish habitats are being altered.
“Fish always have been representative of how well humans are doing with their environment,” says Bill Taylor, University Distinguished Professor in Global Fisheries Systems in MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. “It’s time for us to make a move and speak for the fish to have them valued along with power, commercial, agriculture, and other competition for water.”
One of the largest issues is the lack of hard numbers. Globally, just 156 of more than 230 countries and territories reported their inland capture fisheries production to the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2010, Taylor says. â€‹