Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Primary production: Aquaculture and fisheries

Fish and seafood constitute an important part of diets around the world and are a key source of protein and essential fatty acids (such as omega 3). Over the past 50 years however, overfishing and destructive fishing techniques have caused dramatic reductions in wild fish stocks. Around 85% of fisheries are now fully exploited or overfished, and many of the ecosystems associated with fishing activities have been severely damaged. With growing populations and increasing per capita protein demand, producing sufficient fish to fulfil demand has prompted a focus on aquaculture: the farming of fish and seafood. Aquaculture is the most rapidly expanding subsector of the animal production sector and it now exceeds capture fisheries as an aquatic food source. While there is significant potential for aquaculture to reduce some of the pressures on wild fish stocks, the sector also generates its own environmental problems. The farmed aquatic sector is however hugely diverse – from modern closed recirculating systems through to traditional integrated ones (involving production of both fish, livestock and agriculture) – making it difficult to generalise.

Photo: S Khan, Shrimps, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
16 May 2017

This research calculates the carbon footprint of a meal to give a tangible example, aimed at the public in the US, about how daily food decisions can affect deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe). The study uses a life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach that takes into account GHGe arising from the conversion of mangrove to cattle pastures and mangrove to shrimping ponds as well as from forests to pasture (cattle induced deforestation). 

Photo: natalienicolecrane, fishing at lake victoria, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

A common hypothesis used to link declining human health to environmental outcomes predicts that illness will reduce human populations or harvest effort, thus benefitting the environment. When investigating the behaviour of fishers around Lake Victoria in Kenya, this research found little evidence that illness reduced fishing effort to indirectly benefit the environment. Instead, ill fishers shifted their fishing methods – using more illegal methods concentrated in inshore areas, that are less physically demanding but environmentally destructive.

Photo: Connie, polyculture, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
12 April 2017

This paper, taken from an inaugural edition on planetary health in the Lancet, analyses global food and nutrient production and diversity by farm size, providing evidence on how smallholder farmers contribute to the quantity and quality of our global food supply and discussing the structural impacts of agriculture on nutrient availability.

28 February 2017

This is a new book on the concept of sustainable intensification in the context of smallholder agriculture.

Photo credit: Gideon, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
15 December 2016

The European Environment Agency has published a report on food systems approaches for the seafood industry in Europe, with the explicit aim of making ‘a first contribution to the collective endeavour of rethinking Europe's food system for sustainability goals’.

Photo credit: Chris Booth, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 November 2016

The World Bank has released a short working paper arguing that the expansion of seaweed farming in tropical developing countries could have large positive impacts on local poverty, ecosystem management and climate change mitigation. The report goes through different benefits and uses of seaweed production and briefly discusses current and potential markets for the crop.

Photo credit: garycycles, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
3 November 2016

Drawing on the expertise of 21 institutions worldwide, the UN University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science, a UNU associate institute, have published guidelines for the burgeoning seaweed industry. 

Credit: thebarrowboy - trawling, Flickr, Creative Commons Licence 2.0
11 October 2016

The authors used a species distribution model and applied this to the 887 marine fish (which represents 60% of global average annual catch in the 2000s) and invertebrate species in the world oceans under high and low emissions scenarios. The authors find that global maximum catch potential (MCP) is projected to decrease globally by 7.7% between 2010 and 2050, under the business as usual scenario, and the global revenue from this is predicted to decrease by 10.4% compared to 2010. Under the low emissions scenario, MCP is projected to decrease globally by 4.1% and revenue by 7.1%​

Photo: Flickr, 16:9 Clue, Creative Commons License 2.0
16 September 2016

Various health agencies recommend dietary intake of the two fatty acids omega-3 Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) at a level between 250 and 500 mg/day.

24 July 2016

This is the 2016 edition of the FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.  The report estimates that fish now provide 6.7% of all protein consumed by humans globally, passing the 20kg per capita and year mark for the first time.

17 December 2015

This article in Science Magazine discusses how a genetically modified (GM) salmon has become the first animal to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

9 October 2015

This paper by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) suggests that as much as 47 percent of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year.  The paper shows that the majority of the waste is produced mainly at the consumer stage. The waste issue adds another layer of pressure on fish stocks and the global seafood supply that are already seriously threatened by overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption.

12 June 2015

This article reports that a new fish and animal feedstock product which uses methane gas may be released into the European feedstock markets from the beginning of 2018. The product, FeedKind, is currently in pre-production phase and it is described that the manufacturing process is very similar to the way in which Marmite and other yeast-extract sandwich spreads are produced.

20 May 2015

In this article in Science, researchers warn that imported fish sold in European and North American shops may be less sustainably caught than claims suggest. The experts argue that projects aimed at stimulating sustainable fishing in developing countries often don’t deliver on their goals and therefore, in order to prevent that the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) quality label for sustainable fish is undermined,  requirements for market access need to be more rigorous.  

23 October 2014

A study on the impact of climate change on fish stocks by scientists from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) has identified ocean hotspots for fish extinction and a link between rising temperatures and fish movement.

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