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Putting the fish into inland fisheries – A global allocation of historic inland fish catch

Ainsworth, Rachel F.; Cowx, Ian G.; Funge-Smith, Simon J.


Ian G. Cowx

Simon J. Funge-Smith


Inland waters support the livelihoods of up to 820 million people and provide fisheries that make an essential contribution towards food security, particularly in the developing world where 90% of inland fisheries catch is consumed. Despite their importance, inland fisheries are overlooked in favour of other water use sectors deemed more economically important. Inland fisheries are also driven by external factors such as climate change and habitat loss, which impedes our ability to manage them sustainably. Using a river basin approach to allocate fish catch, we have provided an integrated picture of how different inland water bodies contribute to global inland fisheries catches. There is a substantial amount of information available on inland fisheries, but it has never been synthesised to build this global picture. Fishery statistics from river basins, lakes, floodplains, hydrobasins, and countries covering a time span from 1960–2018 were analysed. Collation of basin-scale fisheries statistics suggests a global inland catch of ≈17.4 million tonnes (PSE = ±3.93 million tonnes) in 2010, considerably more than the 10.8 million tonnes published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), but in line with estimates based on household consumption. The figure is considered a likely maximum due to recent reductions in catches because of closures, threats, and fisheries declines in the most productive fisheries. It is recommended that sentinel fisheries, which are important for food provision, employment, or where threats facing a fishery could cause a deterioration in catch, are identified to provide the baseline for a global monitoring programme.


Ainsworth, R. F., Cowx, I. G., & Funge-Smith, S. J. (2023). Putting the fish into inland fisheries – A global allocation of historic inland fish catch. Fish and Fisheries,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 9, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 10, 2024
Journal Fish and Fisheries
Print ISSN 1467-2960
Electronic ISSN 1467-2979
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords FAO; Fish catch statistics; Inland fisheries; River basin approach; Sentinel fisheries
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