The ADB was accused in Tashkent yesterday of neglecting
fisheries in its policies on food security.
Lobby groups criticised the ADBs Operational Plan for
Sustainable Food Security in Asia and the Pacific for its lack
of attention to fish.
John White, director for development at the Marine
Stewardship Council (MSC), told Emerging Markets:
Its a source of sadness to me that the ADBs
operational plans mention fisheries once, in a footnote. And
the words fish and seafood dont
appear at all.
The place of fish in the food security agenda is far
Asia accounts for the vast majority of world fishing, which
is approaching the maximum sustainable levels. The key
international report on the sector, the UN Food and Agriculture
Organizations The State of World Fisheries and
Aquaculture, says that 86% of the worlds fishers and fish
farmers live on the continent.
The last edition of the report (2008) said that 28% of
stocks are overexploited, depleted or close to depletion, and
52% of stocks are fully exploited. The Western Indian Ocean,
the Northwest Pacific and the Northeast Atlantic have the
greatest proportions of fully-exploited stocks.
Environmentalists argued that the ADB is ignoring a crucial
element of food security. Timothy Geer, director of WWF
International, said: In Asia fish is 26% of protein in
There are large numbers of people in Asia who are
heavily reliant on fish both for their diet, their export
markets and for secondary industries such as canneries. We fear
the potential of the collapse of fisheries.
White of the MSC advised the ADB: First of all change
your thinking. Dont talk about agriculture alone. Talk
about natural resources and include in that both land and
The Operational Plan, launched by the ADB in December, warns
that the regions long-term security is at
risk from food supply problems, and pledges to help
developing countries with agricultural productivity,
connectivity and resilience. But the banks critics say
that any such strategy needs to prioritize protection of fish
Geer said that WWF International is working on fisheries
governance, cooperatives, communities access and better EU
access agreements so fish are not vacuumed up by foreign
He asked the ADB to make subsidy reform part of their
to-do list, and said the bank should use its micro and
mezzo lending programmes for small fishing enterprises.
Inaction in this area will be very dangerous, he
Bob Dobias, head of the climate change unit at the ADB, said
the bank certainly understands the importance of
fisheries but admitted: The ADB will never be the
biggest fisheries play in the region or the major supporter of
fisheries action in the region.
He emphasized partnership, dialogue, agricultural research
and education, and pointed to projects such as the Coral
Triangle initiative which assists with reef protection,
sustainable fishing and climate change education in the Western
Pacific and Indian Oceans as an example of ADB
involvement. But he did not suggest any change in policy or
lending to fisheries.