The best resource at the present on this topic is a 2018 publication by my friend Simon Funge-Smith (from FAO): Review of the state of world fishery resources: inland fisheries
I tend to live oblivious to the importance of inland fisheries, since most of my work happens at oceanic and industrial level, but a trip back to the northern corner of Argentina along the Parana River, to be “home” for my dad’s 80th birthday, put me back in the environment where I actually is started fishing as a kid.
The impact of inland capture fisheries may be focused in specific areas of a country. In Argentina, for example, the national average consumption of freshwater fish (from inland capture fisheries and freshwater aquaculture) rather low <1kg per capita per year, but in the flood plains of the Parana river (where my family lives now), per capita inland captured fish consumption by riverine communities may close to 100 kg per capita per year. This imply a substantial daily harvests that maintain many families and businesses, yet with very little exposure and MCS.
Worldwide, capture fisheries in the world’s inland waters produced 11.6 million tonnes in 2016, representing 12.8 % of total marine and inland catches. And while the 2016 global catch from inland waters showed an increase of 2.0 % over the previous year and of 10.5 % in comparison to the 2005– 2014 average, but this result may be misleading as some of the increase can be attributed to improved data collection and assessment at the country level. Sixteen countries produced almost 80 % of the inland fishery catch, mostly in Asia, where inland catches provide a key food source for many local communities. Inland catches are also an important food source for several countries in Africa, which accounts for 25%t of global inland catches.
In at least 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20% or more of the people working in capture fisheries work in inland fisheries, although inland fisheries constitute only 3% of catches in the region.
The continuously increasing trend of inland fisheries production may be misleading, however, as some of the increase can be attributed to improved reporting and assessment at the country level and may not be entirely due to increased production. The improvement in reporting may also mask trends in individual countries where fisheries are declining.
Inland capture fisheries are important as a source of direct employment and income to an estimated 16.8 million to 20.7 million people globally, particularly in developing countries. It has been conjectured that more than twice as many people may be involved along the supply chain, including women. Most inland fisheries are small in scale. Small-scale fisheries create employment several times greater than large- scale fishing, as the lesser mechanization of the fishing operations typically requires greater human input.
FAO is currently evaluating options for establishing an approach to inland fishery assessment that would enable member countries to track key fisheries, which would assist in global monitoring of inland fishery resources as well as in the development of appropriate national policy and management measures.
As inland capture fisheries production is often under-reported, its importance as a source of food, income and livelihood in many developing countries and food-insecure areas may be even larger than these figures imply.
The contribution of inland fisheries has often been overlooked in policy discussion, mainly because of lack of awareness of the real contribution of inland fisheries and the ecosystems that support them. In addition, inland fisheries are dispersed and not generally associated with intensive yields or taxable revenue. In many developing countries inland fisheries, the people that depend on them and the ecosystems that support them are extremely vulnerable to impacts of ill-advised development, poor labour practices, pollution, habitat loss and climate change.
Furthermore, at present, most inland fisheries are poorly managed or not managed at all, and post-harvest losses may be substantial.