World Wetlands Day in the USA

08/02/2007

Common Ground for Conservation


World Wetlands Day 2007
Wetlands, fisheries and Ramsar January 2007

At least one billion people – mostly in developing countries - rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein, and an estimated 35 million people are directly engaged, either full- or part-time, in fishing for wild stocks or in aquaculture. In the past 30 years aquaculture has become the fastest growing food production sector in the world, providing one-third of the fish people consume.

That sounds like mostly good news. But our technological capacity to catch and farm fish has developed without enough consideration for the health of the ecosystems – both marine and freshwater – that sustain fish and fisheries. The result? Many fisheries are not sustainably managed. So here’s some of the bad news:

  • Seventy-five percent of commercially important marine, and most inland water fish stocks are either currently overfished or are being fished at their biological limit.
  • Demand for seafood products has doubled over the past 30 years and is likely to continue alongside a growing global population.
  • Industrial fishing fleets compete often in coastal areas with small-scale and artisanal fishers for diminishing fish stocks. Conflicts and habitat destruction are ongoing problems, and there is a need for protection and appropriate management, such as co-management, for small-scale fishers who constitute over 90% of the people involved in coastal and offshore fishing.
  • The growth of aquaculture is making more fish available when at the same time some capture fisheries are failing, providing employment and a significant food source, but it often brings with it a host of environmental problems: a heavy dependency on inputs such as energy, chemicals, and the use of wild fish as a food source; destruction of mangroves to make way for aquaculture ponds; pollution of local habitats; introduction of non-native species, etc. Achieving sustainability in aquaculture is possible – but not yet widespread.
  • The use of destructive fishing practices (such as uncontrolled trawling, dynamiting and use of fish poisons) are still of concern and control measures are often hard to implement.

What is World Wetlands Day?

Every year on February 2nd we celebrate World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2nd 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and made an encouraging beginning. Each year, government agencies, non- governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

The Ramsar Convention aimed to protect inland and coastal wetlands support fish and fisheries at all levels, from large-scale, commercial fisheries to subsistence fishers, and from wild, capture fisheries to farmed fish (aquaculture).

What can YOU do?

Almost everyone has some involvement in fisheries - whether you are consumer, tucking into curried prawns or grilled fish, a producer, fishing for wild fish or farming salmon, carp or prawns, a decision-maker who can oversee the development and implementation of sustainable fishing practices, or an environmentalist, dedicated to conserving aquatic ecosystems, or indeed any combination of these.

All of the fish in the Everglades need clean water to survive. During periods of long drought, up to 90% of the fish in the park may die. If the fish die, there is no food for the birds and they die, as well. You can help. Conserve water, and do NOT release exotic fish from your aquariums into the canals.

Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves and seagrass beds, additionally provide key spawning and nursery areas for fish that spend their adult lives in deeper waters.
Let us take care of The Everglades: Ramsar site, World Heritage Site, Biosphere Reserve; National Park, Wilderness Area.

This year we look forward to everyone involved in celebrating the value of wetlands in supporting sustainable fisheries.

Everyone has a role to play in sustainable fisheries.

Watch the Video

Sincerely,

Common Ground for Conservation Team

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,342

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