World Fisheries day is celebrated every year on 21 November throughout the world by fishing communities.
A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.
The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting the critical importance to human lives, of water and the lives it sustains, both in and out of water. Water forms a continuum, whether contained in rivers, lakes, and ocean.
Fish forms an important part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those that live near rivers, coasts and other water bodies. A number of traditional societies and communities are rallied around the occupation of fishing.
This is why a majority of human settlements, whether small villages or mega cities, are situated in close proximity to water bodies. Besides the importance of water for survival and as a means of transportation, it is also an important source of fish and aquatic protein.
But this proximity has also led to severe ocean and coastal pollution from run-off and from domestic and industrial activities carried out near-by. This has led to depletion of fish stocks in the immediate vicinity, requiring fishermen to fish farther and farther away from their traditional grounds.
Besides, overfishing and mechanisation has also resulted in a crisis – fish sticks are being depleted through ‘factory’ vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing methods.
Unless we address these issues collectively, the crisis will deepen. The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we are facing, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.