Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Marine and aquatic ecosystems

Image: Lynn Betts, Runoff of soil & fertilizer, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
21 May 2018

Structural changes in the food system such as replacing half of animal proteins with plant-based proteins could significantly marine eutrophication in the North-East Atlantic, according to a recent paper. The authors addressed the question of whether Western Europe can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff to coastal areas without endangering food security.

15 May 2018

A report by WWF, The Rivers Trust and The Angling Trust finds that only 14% of rivers in England are classed as healthy, with damage being caused by poor farming and land management practices, for example by degraded soil being washed into watercourses and agricultural chemicals contaminating groundwater. The report sets out a strategy for managing both soil and water health, including stricter control of slurry storage, incentives for farmers to plant woodland or create wetland habitats and creating an advice service for farmers and land managers.

Image: MOAA, Satellite image and illustration of a dead zone in the southern U.S., Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
9 May 2018

In this TED talk, ocean expert Nancy Rabalais discusses the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico - an area of the ocean where there isn’t enough oxygen to support sea life. Fertiliser runoff from farmland further up the Mississippi River is causing the dead zone, according to Rabalais. She says that solutions could include growing perennial grains and using precision fertilisation.

Image: Brocken Inaglory, Total internal reflection of Chelonia mydas, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
9 May 2018

Many important marine species, including marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds, are threatened by bycatch - i.e. being accidentally caught by fishers who are targeting other species. A new paper finds that around half of the populations threatened by bycatch could be protected by managing fish stocks to maximise fishery profits, which would reduce bycatch as a side-effect of reducing overfishing.

30 April 2018

This book, edited by Faisal I. Hai, Chettiyappan Visvanathan and Ramaraj Boopathy, discusses the social, economic and environmental sustainability implications of various aquaculture practices.

Image: John Wallace, A mountain of dogfish (Squalus acanthias) caught during a trawl survey. California, Southern California Bight, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
6 March 2018

This paper presents the findings of a large-scale study which used global tracking data on sea-going vessels to characterise the scale, distribution and drivers of the global fishing effort.

12 December 2017

The planetary boundaries concept provides a theoretical upper limit on human activity which the planet is able to sustain without major perturbation to the current ‘Earth system’. Previously, nine planetary boundaries (PBs) have been proposed and recently Steffen et al. (2015) have updated these boundary definitions and assessed the current state of the position of human activity with respect to each boundary. In this article, researchers from a number of food, climate change, agricultural and environmental research institutions around the world build on this work by assessing the impact of agriculture on each PB status, based on a detailed literature review of the available research.

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: 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.

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%​

Credit: James Bowe, Apples by the road, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
28 September 2016

This editorial article focuses on an aspect of agricultural food loss and waste, not often considered: the effects that a reduction in food loss and waste at the production stage, might have on the species that have become reliant on food waste.

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.