Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Fish and aquatic

Fish and other aquatic animals are an important source of food and protein for humans around the world. They are harvested in the wild (capture fishing) or cultivated in ponds or cages (aquaculture). Aquaculture now accounts for around 45% of total fish production while output from capture remains static. Fish and seafood confer many nutritional benefits: they are rich in protein, low in saturated fat, while oily fish and to a lesser extent shellfish are the main source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Many aquatic species are now sources of pollutants in human food, with high levels of mercury and PCBs in animals high up the food chain. Overfishing, invasive species, and habitat destruction are responsible for widespread collapses of fish stocks. Overfishing also undermines the livelihoods of poor coastal communities who depend upon fishing for income and nutrition. Some fishing practices and aquaculture production systems can be highly energy intensive, meaning that fish from these sources can have a high GHG footprint.

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: fklv, two fishing boats, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
19 April 2017

This paper models human and natural influences on the global capture of wild marine fish. The researchers show that wild fish harvest increases during the 20th century were most likely explained by improvements in fishing technology. Their simulated future projections, that assume ongoing technological progress and open access (i.e. no policy constraints), suggest a long-term decrease in harvest due to over-fishing.

Photo credit: Vincent-Lin, Fish, Flickr, Creative Commons License
8 February 2017

This systematic review considers how seafood is currently incorporated and assessed in the sustainable diets literature and examines the barriers to more adequate inclusion of seafood within research on sustainable diets. 

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’.

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.

Photo: Susanne Nilsson, Flickr, Tropical Fish, Creative Commons License 2.0
31 August 2016

Researchers from Conservation International have found a small island near Timor-Leste with staggering species richness. Atauro Island, home to about 8,000 people sits in the middle of the so-called Coral Triangle, known for its biodiverse marine environments.

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.

18 January 2016

In this paper, researchers at the National University of Singapore identify the major land use changes associated with mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia, with an aim of ultimately facilitating appropriately targeted policy interventions to manage the forests. Over a 12-year period, the researchers quantified LULCC in deforested patches, and classified the replacement land uses (e.g. aquaculture).

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.

30 September 2015

This paper finds that increasing global demand for fish (due to increasing incomes and worldwide population growth) and developments in fishing methods together threaten to further increase pressure on the most popular fish types. It considers improvements in two areas that may decrease this pressure; increasing the production of farmed fish (aquaculture) and improving the effectiveness of fisheries management.

The authors assess how various scenarios of change would affect future wild stock status and simulate the stock development until the year 2048. Through different scenarios they outline ways that the fishery and aquaculture sectors might develop in the coming decades for four popular types of edible fish that are the most important for the world market;  sea bass, salmon, cod and tuna.

12 June 2015

This new paper in Marine Policy suggests that eco-label improvements can be made by integrating the carbon footprints of products in sustainability assessments (eco-labels, sustainability certification, or consumer seafood sustainability guides).

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.

25 September 2014

The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) has launched a new 'labelling code', intended to ensure that consumers are sure about what environmental claims on fish and seafood mean. A new 'sourcing code' accompanies the labelling and ensures that the coalition members source their fish and seafood products responsibly.