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UN Agencies Call for Attention to Fisheries in Climate Change Negotiations

© FAO1 June 2009: A consortium of 16 UN and other international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank and the World Fish Center, has issued a policy brief urging negotiators to ensure that fisheries and aquaculture are addressed in a new international agreement on climate change.

The brief outlines the impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems, as well as their role for sustaining livelihoods, ensuring food security and protecting coastal communities from storms. The brief further describes the role of aquatic ecosystems in climate change adaptation and mitigation, noting that further research is needed in both areas. It cautions that fisheries can be negatively affected by mitigation and adaptation measures in other sectors, such as dams, hydropower, offshore wind farms or artificial coastal defenses.

Suggested measures to protect aquatic ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture, and to improve their contribution to adaptation and mitigation, include: promoting environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient fishing and aquaculture practices; eliminating subsidies that promote overfishing and excess fishing capacity; carrying out vulnerability and risk assessments; strengthening knowledge of the dynamics of biogeochemical cycles in aquatic ecosystems, especially of carbon and nitrogen; investing in research on carbon sequestration in aquatic ecosystems; encouraging sustainable biofuel production from algae and seaweeds; and implementing comprehensive and integrated ecosystem approaches to managing oceans, coastal zones, fisheries and aquaculture.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO-IOC), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) are also in the partnership that issued the policy brief. [The Policy Brief] [FAO Press Release] [World Fish Center on Climate Change and Fisheries]