Knowledge for better food systems

FCRN mailing list member blogs on aquaculture

John Forster, an FCRN mailing list member, has written two very interesting articles on aquaculture for the UK Research Councils’ Food Security website

In the first article, John argues the case for a ‘marine agronomy’. He points out that, on land, we farm and harvest about 6,600mmt per year of plants most (around two thirds) of which we eat directly, much of the rest being fed to farm animals to produce meat and dairy products.  The question for marine aquaculture is therefore: can it become a similarly productive marine agronomy to ease the burden that future human generations will otherwise impose on the land?  To do so, marine plants (macroalgae, or seaweeds) must become the primary crop for food, feed and other applications as we use terrestrial plants instead of the marine animals produced now.
The second article looks at aquaculture – the cultivation of fish and other aquatic animals.  He points out that currently, much acquacultural production makes use of feed inputs (such as other fish, or grains) that could directly be consumed by humans.  However, he says that the potential for the large-scale farming of marine plants (macroalgae or seaweeds) is vast. He suggests that decades from now, production of marine biomass for processing into food for people, feed for farm animals and biofuel could equal or exceed the biomass produced by terrestrial agiculture today,  without using land or freshwater and without fossil fuel-based fertilizers.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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