At a side event today held on the occasion of the 31st Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), Árni M. Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and June Pierce Youatt, Provost and Executive Vice President, Michigan State University (MSU), signed a letter of intent to work in partnership on inland fisheries programs including a conference, visiting scholars, internships, and new learning opportunities.

“Inland fisheries provide a crucial source of protein as well as income for millions in the developing world,” Mathiesen said. “We welcome the support of Michigan State University in taking a global, multidisciplinary approach to address the common challenges that face sustainable inland fisheries all over the world.”.

“We are fortunate in the State of Michigan to have some of the world’s outstanding inland fisheries, so it is only natural that Michigan State University take a leadership role in working through the United Nations to promote the value and sustainability of the world’s inland fisheries resources,” Youatt said.

The first of these projects is Freshwater, Fish, and the Future, an international conference to be held at FAO headquarters 26-30 January 2015. The Global Conference on Inland Fisheries will take a groundbreaking, global, multidisciplinary approach to inland water issues with a focus on fish and fisheries for food security, livelihoods, and their role in aquatic ecosystems. A cross-sectoral effort to raise the profile of inland fisheries, the conference seeks to better incorporate fish into agricultural, industrial, recreational, and urban land use and water resource planning through development of improved assessment frameworks and value estimation in the context of global change adaptation.

The partnership also establishes the Robin Welcomme Visiting Scholar program, in which MSU will host an exceptional senior scholar in freshwater fisheries resources. The scholar program will contribute to and enrich the MSU community’s intellectual endeavors and international portfolio on the ecology and management of global inland freshwater fisheries. In addition, a new internship program will link the best of FAO mentors with the best of MSU’s graduate students, developing future globally-thinking fisheries professionals. Finally, the partnership will establish advanced learning opportunities on global inland fisheries and aquatic ecosystems through the development of online and distance learning courses and lectures.

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