Dams Come At a Price of Hi-Quality Food — Hard to Put a Price-tag on Healthy Rivers

By Stephen Leahy

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 22, 2010 (IPS)

Damming a river may bring electric power, but it often comes at the price of high-quality food fisheries, experts say. When dams are proposed for power, flood control or irrigation, the often devastating impacts on fisheries in rivers and lakes are ignored or discounted.

“It is very difficult to put a dollar value on what inland fisheries represent because it is much more than the landed value of the fish at the dock,” says Yumiko Kura of the WorldFish Center office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Kura is co-author of a new report, “Blue Harvest: Inland Fisheries as an Ecosystem Service”, which highlights the wide-ranging importance of inland fisheries in diets, especially among children, and not just in terms of protein but in supplying micronutrients, notably vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc.

“Detailed studies in Bangladesh for example have shown that daily consumption of small fish contributes 40 percent of the total daily household requirement of vitamin A and 31 percent of calcium,” according the report released Friday at a side event at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In addition, it notes there are more than 60 million full- and part-time jobs in fishing and other activities such as processing, with over half these jobs carried out by women.

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