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.

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.

29 May 2019

This report from US charity The Nature Conservancy explores how private investors can help to meet the demand for sustainable seafood by investing in new forms of aquaculture that have lower negative environmental impacts than conventional aquaculture.

29 May 2019

This working paper from the UK-based policy research organisation International Institute for Environment and Development explores how fishing subsidies could be reformed to promote social equity and better environmental outcomes.

29 May 2019

This working paper from the UK-based policy research organisation International Institute for Environment and Development explores the costs and benefits of different scenarios for future governance of high seas fisheries (i.e. those in international waters) under a changing climate.

24 April 2019

This book gives an overview of aquaponics systems, i.e. combined production of fish and crops, and their social, economic and environmental implications.

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.

24 April 2019

This paper quantifies the resource use implications of replacing fishmeal with plant-based ingredients in the feed used to farm shrimp. It finds that increasing the proportion of plant-based ingredients in shrimp feed could reduce pressure on marine resources, at the cost of increased use of freshwater, land and fertiliser.

12 March 2019

This paper retrospectively models the impacts of ocean warming on the productivity of 235 fish populations around the world representing around one third of reported global catch. It uses a temperature-dependent population model to estimate that the overall maximum sustainable yield of the fish populations dropped by 4.1% between 1930 and 2010.

12 March 2019

This paper models the impacts that the Paris Agreement on climate change would have on seafood production. It finds that three quarters of maritime countries would benefit from the Agreement’s implementation.

18 February 2019

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

11 February 2019

This report, part of the UK Food Research Collaboration’s Food Brexit Briefings series, argues that the UK’s exit from the European Union will not solve the fishing industry’s problems - rather, that international fishing rules, overfishing and the UK’s own policies have contributed to those problems.

4 February 2019

These three audio reports from the Wall Street Journal explore the impact of climate change on commercial fisheries, cattle genetically engineered to tolerate higher temperatures, and how advances in artificial intelligence and genetics could help farmers to withstand crop disease and droughts.

4 February 2019

This paper maps interruptions to food production across the world between 1961 and 2013 and highlights the links and tradeoffs between events in different food sectors, including crops, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture.

10 December 2018

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations has taken legal action against 30 fossil fuel companies, arguing that the crab fishing industry is being harmed by climate change. Algal blooms, made more likely by warming ocean waters, have cut short crab fishing seasons.

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.

16 October 2018

This book, by Simon R. Bush and Peter Oosterveer, examines the sustainability, governance and future of seafood.