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.

21 July 2020

In this paper, FCRN member Michael MacLeod reports that global aquaculture produced around 0.49% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 - a similar quantity to the emissions from sheep meat production. When emissions are measured per kg of edible product, the paper finds aquaculture to have low emissions intensity relative to meat from goats, cattle, buffalo and sheep and similar emissions intensity to meat from pigs and chickens.

14 July 2020

In this paper, FCRN member David Willer argues that bivalve shellfish aquaculture could provide a nutritious and low-impact source of protein to nearly one billion people, particularly in the tropics.  

8 July 2020

This report from UK food waste NGO Feedback argues that sustainability certification of wild-caught forage fish as feed for Scottish salmon aquaculture companies could in fact be driving overfishing.

8 July 2020

This report from UK food waste NGO Feedback uses the Scottish salmon aquaculture sector as an example to argue that feeding wild fish to farmed salmon is an inefficient and environmentally damaging way of providing micronutrients to humans. It suggests that replacing some farmed salmon consumption with small wild-caught fish and farmed mussels could provide the same level of micronutrients while protecting fish stocks.

8 July 2020

This research shows that global replacement of fish meal and fish oil in aquaculture feed with alternative feeds (including algae, bacteria, yeast and insects) could reduce aquaculture’s demand for forage fish while - depending on the specific mix of alternative feeds - maintaining feed efficiency and levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the farmed fish.

7 April 2020

This paper argues that substantially rebuilding the health of marine ecosystems is both necessary for human thriving and achievable within a generation. While marine ecosystems are under pressure from overfishing, pollution, oxygen depletion and other stressors, the authors point out that many remote areas of the ocean are still wild and large populations of marine mammals still exist and are capable of recovering if given the chance.

24 March 2020

This report from UK food waste NGO Feedback and the Changing Markets Foundation assesses ten UK supermarkets on their aquaculture supply chain policies and practices, particularly regarding the use of wild fish as feed for farmed fish. Seven out of ten supermarkets scored less than 30%, with ALDI performing worst at 12% and Tesco performing best at 60%. The report finds that aquaculture operations for UK supermarkets consumed 2.5 times as much wild fish as the amount of farmed fish produced.

3 March 2020

This book examines a variety of regenerative farming systems, including agroecology, indigenous food systems, small-scale fisheries, food sharing, coffee micro-mills, foraging and reuse of food waste.

18 February 2020

This review paper examines how people are increasingly using the ocean - even previously inaccessible areas - for seafood, animal feed, nutraceuticals (such as omega-3 fatty acids), fuels and minerals, shipping, waste disposal and many other purposes. It argues that the view of the ocean as being too big to be affected by humans is now outdated, and that effective governance is required to manage the ocean’s ecological health while allowing sustainable use of its resources.

28 January 2020

This report sets out the Welsh Government’s plan for managing its seas for economic, social, cultural and environmental objectives, including sustainable fisheries management (p114 of the report) and aquaculture for finfish, shellfish and algae for food, energy and pharmaceuticals (p80).

2 December 2019

This paper finds that neonicotinoid use in rice paddies surrounding Lake Shinji in Japan was followed by a collapse in the fishery yields of smelt and eel, likely due to neonicotinoids reducing the abundance of zooplankton on which smelt and eels feed. The paper suggests that similar fishery yields decreases in lake across Japan could be linked to neonicotinoid use.

11 November 2019

This book describes how the system of capitalism affects the choices that fishers make at sea, including balancing profitability and human safety.

22 October 2019

This commentary article sets out five priorities for developing the so-called “blue economy” (i.e. ocean-based activities such as fishing, aquaculture, tourism, seabed mining and shipping) in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. The article notes that human activities are already negatively affecting ocean ecosystems and that future economic development of the oceans may have further, sometimes poorly understood, impacts on both the environment and people.

9 October 2019

This interactive feature from the Global Reporting Program, an investigative journalism organisation, uses text, images and video to explore the fishmeal supply chain, including its sources, its uses in aquaculture, overfishing, waste sludge from fishmeal factories and competition between industrial fishmeal producers and small-scale fish processors.

9 July 2019

This report by UK food waste campaigning organisation Feedback examines the use of wild fish and land by the Scottish farmed salmon industry. It finds that the industry, which is largely controlled by six companies, already uses the same amount of wild fish that the whole UK population purchases, and that it would need to use two-thirds as much again to meet its growth ambitions. 

3 July 2019

Fisheries often discard large quantities of unwanted catches at sea, but policies are being brought in to limit such discards. According to this paper, Northern gannets (seabirds) rely more on fishery discards in years when there are shortages in their natural prey (mainly mackerel) - shortages that may be due to pressure from fisheries. The paper argues that fishery discards are not an adequate substitute for natural prey. 

11 June 2019

This paper by FCRN member Elinor Hallström assesses the nutritional content and climate impact of 37 seafood products. The paper finds high variability in nutritional and climate performance, with no consistent correlation between nutrition and climate impact across different seafood species. The paper calls for dietary advice to promote species with low climate impact and high nutritional value, including sprat, herring, mackerel and perch.

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