Fisheries and aquaculture contribute to nutritious diets for millions of Bangladeshis and make an important contribution to the national economy through supporting livelihoods and driving exports – but climate change threatens growth and productivity.
In response to this challenge, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is helping Bangladesh to strengthen the climate resiliency of these sectors.
An inception workshop was held today for a project that is building the capacity of government officials and other stakeholders to better plan and implement climate-resilient fisheries and aquaculture programmes, mainstreaming climate change into the national fisheries policy and related strategies. The project is also strengthening community awareness and enhancing local adaptive capacity through transfer and adoption of appropriate site-specific climate-resilient fisheries and aquaculture interventions.
Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh, said: “Millions of Bangladeshis enjoy eating fish regularly and millions of families rely on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. Climate change, however, is a major threat to the survival of many species, ecosystems, and the financial sustainability of fisheries production systems. FAO is supporting fishers to adapt to this change.” Mr. Simpson closed by recognizing the efforts of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock for organizing the event and its commitment to addressing climate action in this important sector.
Chief guest was Rejaul Karim MP, Honourable Minister of Fisheries and Livestock. Special guests were Rawnak Mahmud, Secretary for Fisheries and Livestock; and Yahia Mahmud, Director General, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute. The chairperson was Quazi Shams Afroz, Director General, Department of Fisheries.
While capture fisheries will remain relevant, aquaculture has already demonstrated its crucial role in global food security, with its production growing at 7.5 percent per year since 1970. Indeed, global fish farming is dominated by Asia, which has produced 89 percent of the global total in volume terms in the last 20 years. Bangladesh is one of several major producing countries (along with Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Norway and Viet Nam) that has consolidated its share in world aquaculture production over the past two decades.
Recognizing the capacity of aquaculture for further growth, but also the enormity of the environmental challenges the sector must face as it intensifies production, demands new sustainable aquaculture development strategies. Such strategies need to harness technical developments in, for example, feeds, genetic selection, biosecurity and disease control, and digital innovation, with business developments in investment and trade.
Climate change impacts on marine capture fisheries are projected to be more significant in tropical regions of Africa and Asia, where warming is expected to decrease productivity. Bangladesh is more vulnerable than many other countries. Targeted fisheries and aquaculture climate resilient interventions and development can help to deliver the transformational change that is needed to feed everyone, everywhere.
Part of these targeted interventions is the recognition that most food systems affect the environment, but that there are trade-offs to ensure we improve food and nutrition security while minimizing the impacts on their supportive ecosystems.
Fish and fisheries products are actually recognized not only as some of the healthiest foods on the planet, but also as some of the less impactful on the natural environment. For these reasons, they must be better considered in national, regional and global food security and nutrition strategies, and contribute to the ongoing transformation of food systems to ensure we eliminate hunger and malnutrition.