Business as usual not enough to meet future fish demand says new report

A new report notes that the world’s requirement for fish for human consumption in 2030 will exceed the 170 million metric ton trajectory of today’s production system by 62 million metric tons.

A new report notes that the world’s requirement for fish for human consumption in 2030 will exceed the 170 million metric ton trajectory of today’s production system by 62 million metric tons. Getting to Eden, a report from global action network Fishing for a Future, provides a quantitative picture of a future state, Eden, where we are able to sustainably produce enough fish and equitably distribute the benefits.

The key Eden report findings suggest that there are three pathways to close the deficit:

  1. maximize sustainable yields from fisheries which will contribute approximately 8 million metric tons more than current levels,
  2. reduce waste and loss along the value system which will contribute approximately 15 million metric tons and
  3. sustainably and equitably increase aquaculture production which will contribute approximately 39 million metric tons.

Getting to Eden says that failure to address issues such as post harvest losses, illegal and unreported fishing and ineffective governance will mean a fish food system characterized by further decimation of fish stocks and environmental and sustainability problems growing unchecked.

More than one billion people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and approximately 800 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. Failing fisheries will have a detrimental effect on global food security and the livelihoods of many of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Despite the challenges, the report concludes on a positive note saying that a so-called ‘Eden’ scenario, whereby predicted demand for fish is met sustainably, is possible. Collective action is needed to meet the demand, the report says, with industry being called to significantly reduce waste, improve sustainable yields from fisheries and increase aquaculture.

Stephen Hall, Director General, WorldFish: “This is not simply a production challenge. These increases have to be done in ways that ensure fish is affordable and available for all and that the economic and nutritional benefits from the sector are equitably distributed. They must also be done in ways that sustain, and where needed, improve ocean health.”

Andreas Schaffer, Sustainability Director, Earth Observatory of Singapore: “Our analyses show that, despite the challenge, an ‘Eden’ state for the global fish food system is achievable. To get there, however, we must set ourselves on the right path now and pursue it together.”

Aquaculture is identified as the solution to meeting the largest share of the predicted shortfall. In order to do so, the report predicts that aquaculture growth will have to maintain current growth rates of 4.7% be sustainable, commercially viable for small and large scale farmers and equitable in terms of distributing the value created.

Fishing for a Future is an initiative that brings together key stakeholders from government, private sector, international and civil society organizations to identify and assess challenges in the fish food system and identify solutions that can be pursued through collective action.

Source: WorldFish

Illustration Photo: Fishermen are catching Tilapia fish for breeding manually. Khulna Tilapia Hatchery, Khulna, Bangladesh. 25 September 2017 (credits: Habibul Haque / WorldFish / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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