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.

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.

3 February 2020

This paper argues that international measures to protect marine biodiversity should include protected areas that can move over space and time to adapt to the changing ranges of certain species, whether because the species in question are migratory, or because their ranges are changing because of climate change.

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).

28 January 2020

This paper reviews abundance and catch levels in around half of global fisheries (those for which information is available). It finds that, on average, fish stocks are increasing in these regions. Fisheries that are managed intensively tend to have more fish than those that are not. Management intensity is defined by a “fishery management index”, and refers to whether levels of fishing are kept below a certain target for each fishery.

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. 

24 April 2019

This report from the US-based campaigning organisation Changing Markets Foundation examines the impacts of catching wild fish to feed to farmed fish in aquaculture operations, i.e. reduction fisheries.

18 February 2019

Aquaculture generally supplements wild fisheries rather than replacing them, according to this paper, which used models based on historical data.

12 November 2018

This paper assesses the possibility that cephalopods, such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish, could become a more important source of food in the future. In contrast to many fish population, cephalopod populations have been rising over the last few decades, possibly due to warmer ocean temperatures. The paper gives an overviews of the nutrients provided by cephalopods and the ways that they can be used as food. The authors also note that some cephalopods, including the octopus, are intelligent and possibly sentient, raising ethical issues over their use as food.

18 September 2018

The vast majority of industrial fishing (defined as fishing vessels of over 24 metres) is done by vessels that are registered to relatively wealthy countries, according to a recent paper. Vessels registered to high income and upper middle income countries (according to World Bank classifications) accounted for 97% of industrial fishing effort in international waters and 78% of industrial fishing effort in the national waters of poorer countries. China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Spain together account for most of the fishing effort.

4 September 2018

Farmed fish are often fed on forage fish (such as anchovies and sardines) caught from the wild. A new paper points out that demand for forage fish to support aquaculture production is forecast to grow beyond the maximum sustainable supply level. The authors calculate that demand for forage fish could be reduced to below the maximum supply limit by combining a number of measures: reducing use of forage fish in land-based agriculture, replacing some forage fish with fish trimmings from processing, and reducing the proportion of forage fish in the diets of non-carnivorous farmed fish.

20 August 2018

The first systematic analysis of marine wilderness around the world finds that only 13% of the ocean can still be classed as wilderness, i.e. having experienced low impacts from human-caused stressors such as fertilizer runoff, fishing and climate change. Only 4.9% of that wilderness (covering 0.6% of total ocean area) falls within official marine protected areas.

24 July 2018

The FAO has released its 2018 report on world fishery and aquaculture statistics. Key findings include that fisheries output peaked in 2016, having remained approximately static since the late 1980s, while aquaculture production is rising, as shown in the figure below. In 2015, fish accounted for around 17% of global animal protein consumption. One third of fish stocks are currently overfished, although progress has been made in the United States and Australia in increasing the proportion of fish stocks that are sustainably fished.

24 July 2018

Scientists used DNA barcoding (testing a short section of the genome) to check whether fish in Metro Vancouver are really the species that they are labelled as being. They found that 25% of fish sampled were mislabelled, with error rates higher in restaurants than in grocery stores or sushi bars. Since the price of the claimed species was often higher than that of the real species, the paper suggests that some labelling may be intentional. However, the paper also suggests that some errors could be due to confusion between vernacular fish names (rather than scientific species names).

21 May 2018

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) hopes to use blockchain technology to make the entire seafood supply chain traceable. Working with tech startup TraSeable, fishing company Sea Quest and blockchain company Viant, WWF is running a pilot project to trace tuna through the supply chain by tagging catches with radio-frequency identification chips and QR codes - which can be scanned by a mobile phone.

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