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Fisheries towards food security

Fish, Fisheries, Food security, trade, food

Fisheries towards food security

The good health of a nation can be very well evaluated by per capita food grain availability to its people. Subsequently the health of its people can be evaluated by per capita protein and nutritional food available to them. The talk of food security especially in a developing nation such India, faces with a harsh reality of uneven growth in food production and unequal food distribution. The impact of unequal food distribution can have adverse effect on the rural and urban poor which is visibly evident. Food scarcity technically is not really food unavailability. Many a times in abundance of food, poor have been noticed dying of hunger and unable to procure food. Therefore, in a sense, food security is a mix of livelihood, income and food availability

Fish is not only a vital food; it is also a source of livelihood and money for millions of people around the globe. By 2003, an estimated 35 million men and women are supposed to be deriving an income from fisheries. An overwhelming majority of them, approximately 95 percent are in developing countries.

The developing countries are also taking a growing share of the international trade in fish and fishery products because of growing resource management for fish production. This may have both benefits and drawbacks. While the exports earn them valuable foreign exchange, the diversion of fish and fish products from local communities and developing regions can deprive needy people, including children, of a traditionally cheap, but highly nutritious food.

Fish has proved to be the subject of trade wars in recent years such as disputes over Vietnamese catfish exports to US; US tariffs on shrimp imports and EU bans on shrimp containing antibiotic residues, causing some economic instability for the exporting nations. Fishing subsidies have been the focus of a recent campaign by the environment organization which feel that more subsidies add to more creation of fish production unit; in turn degrading the environment. In addition to market controversies over fish trade, concerns have also been raised over the environment and trade, e.g. in the live fish trade, sand export-driven shrimp farming’s impact on the environment, and food security and trade, e.g. coastal shrimp farming in India and Tanzania.

The emerging thought of mitigating nutritional deficiencies and food security by fisheries is a pragmatic move in India. Considering the fact that sea has ample scope for continuous supply of protein rich food for the hunger to ensure food security by its abundance wealth of fish. We need to exploit the food from sea as a security measures against under nutrition and malnutrition for the growing population. India, with its vast coastline and seas can guarantee these measures with adequate policies through adoption of science and technology and biotechnology.

While promoting fishery exports from developing countries like India is likely to endanger the nutritional status of poor fish consumers because domestic supplies will decline. Conflicting aspect is that increasing fish exports creates more jobs in the fish producing and processing activities (particularly for women), raises incomes and thus increases the spending on food. On the other hand country earn considerable foreign exchange from fish exports which can be used to buy less expensive, nutritious food to supply vulnerable populations and thus maintain or raise levels of food security.

Another school of thoughts says fishing for exportable species of fish leads to competition between different sub-sectors of fish producers, causing disruptions in employment, income and hence food security. Even large imports of fish can lower the price of fish in the importing countries, adversely affecting the earnings of the fish producers and, consequently, their food security status. This trend has been experienced in case of shrimp exports in the recent past. Maybe the reason for lower price could be related to the quality aspect; however the trend is surely going to impact directly.

Any trade that impinges on the issue of food security raises the related question of the basic human right to food. By and large the world’s nations have agreed that trade, in general, is good for economic development and that increased trade will result in benefits for people. Following benefits can be expected from the trade of fish and fish product
•Comparative advantage — producer nations can specialise in areas where
they have a natural advantage
•Potential to generate higher economic growth which could be allocated
to poverty reduction and other beneficial uses
•Reduced prices for consumers as goods/services are sourced from the
cheapest producers
•Greater choice for consumers

The issue of government control is central in managing the impacts of trade. Politics inevitably distort efforts to equitably distribute the benefits of trade. In addition, without adequate laws that can control resource use, there is little chance of preventing environmental degradation of any sort, whether the trade is involved or not. In the case of fisheries, trade may well be one of a number of drivers of over fishing, but the primary driver is poor management.

As established, an increasing proportion of seafood is entering the world trade system, especially from developing countries. Whereas the expectation is that this trade will improve the circumstances of people in the exporting nations and that measures being taken to facilitate trade will lead to further benefits, the reality is that there remain some significant issues to resolve. Fish and fishing are inextricably linked with many coastal cultures, often for hundreds if not thousands of years. As with the case of agriculture, there are very legitimate concerns about the relative dominance of trade reform versus culture: in other words, is trade a tool to serve society by food security?

Published: 2007-02-01
Author: Rama Kant Mishra

About the author or the publisher
I have done Masters in Fisheries Management and have written and published articles on Fisheries, Agriculture, Medical, Pharmaceutical, political, self Improvement and Career. Professionally working for an IT company as a Technical Writer. I love to write and publish and have worked as freelance writer, ghost writer and as special correspondent for print media. You may find me contributing on and You may reach me at mishraramakant@gmail.

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