The fishing industry is a key component of the global food production system. In various developing nations, seafood is a dominant source of nutrition and calories. According to the FAO, low- income developing nations produce 31,017,000 tons of fish per year (FAO, 2013). In 2006, 86% of fishermen and fish farmers lived in Asia. Fishing and aquaculture are especially important in poor areas where they are a means of occupation for subsistence farmers.
Consumption of fish is a good method of solving hunger while maintaining ecological stability. As compared to a system of raising terrestrial livestock, fish grown in aquaculture systems are far more efficient in converting feed into protein. As can be seen in Figure 1, the feed conversion ratio (the ratio between the amount of food used to feed the farmed animals, and the amount of product that is actually raised and can be consumed by humans) for beef is 31.7 for beef, whereas the conversion ratio for carp is only 2.3. The cause for this lower consumption is that fish do not expend energy regulating their body temperature unlike warm blooded animals, and they are typically supported by the aquatic water, so they don’t develop large skeletal tissues for support and body stability, and can allocate more resources to actual growth.
Figure 1: Feed and protein conversion efficiency of the major animal foods (FAO, 2014)
In addition to their higher efficiency in converting feed to produce, fish have a lower carbon footprint compared to raised livestock. When examining the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous emitted per ton of protein produced, aquaculture systems have significantly lower emissions compared to beef and pork production systems (Figure 2). Moreover, farming of bivalves (oysters, clams, mussels, scallops) can even reduce the amount of gasses emitted by absorbing them from other systems (FAO, 2014).
Fish are clearly an excellent source of nutrition for humans, yet few nations take advantage of fish in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. Aquaculture and fisheries can be used by nations to produce vast quantities of fish to feed citizens and alleviate hunger and malnutrition. Currently, the Asia-Pacific region produces almost 90% of all farmed fish (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009). As seen in Figure 3, China has successfully managed to raise the production in aquaculture, representing 61% of total aquaculture production in 2014 (FAO, 2014). However, these practices must be monitored carefully as the addition of larger fish markets can destabilize economies and can cause massive environmental damage. Despite these risks, proper utilization of these resources can allow nations to solve parts of their food security issues while still protecting their environments.
Figure 3: relative contribution of aquaculture and capture fisheries to food fish production per capita for the world and for China
As a direct result of nations and the world not controlling the fishing outputs and harvests, overfishing has led to a decrease in production and harmful ecological effects. Thus we must combat overfishing and identify methods to increase yields while maintaining the ecological stability.
Overfishing is the process of over harvesting and fishing more fish than can be sustained by the ecosystem. Overfishing in and of itself does not necessarily mean the exploitation of a single species or type of fish, it can also relate to many types of negative consequences that can result through fishermen’s actions. For example, some of the more subtle effects occur when one species is targeted but it has a cascading effect on the ecosystem as a whole by affecting the predator prey relationships and creating an imbalance (Meyers, 2007). Moreover, today, the global fishing market is twice the size needed to remove all the fish in the oceans (Sumaila et al., 2007). Another factor compounding this problem of overfishing is illegal fishing. Global assessments of the impact of overfishing range from 25 percent to 72 percent of fish stocks depending on the definition used (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009). Some definitions look at the effect of fishing on the species by itself while other definitions look at the effect on the entire ecosystem and thus identify a larger effect (FAO, 2008; Pauly, et al., 2008). The lack of regulation is already hurting ecosystems but the prevalence of illegal fishing is a true blow to the world’s oceans. About 1/4th of the total global fish production comes from illegal fishing practices (Ocean Sentry, 2008).
Currently there have been various attempts to address the problem of overfishing and the harmful environmental impacts of fishing. However, there remains a great deal of planning and execution required to achieve results across the world. A crucial aspect in this is to take a global perspective in creating a solution.
Fishing represents a very large market in the world and curbing overfishing will have significant short term economic effects and decreased food supply, which may be hard to bear. This is a major reason that, despite international management authorities setting fishing limits, they have not been enforced. Since the 1982 UNCLOS law, countries have a 200 mile radius for their Exclusive economic Zone or aquatic region which they can control and regulate (which is about 95% of the fisheries) making it possible for nations and regions to have control over the fisheries (Beckman, 2012).
Ecosystem based management allows for case by case analysis and projecting the future in different places. This can be used to asses the combination or types of remediation plans to be utilized. After identifying the state of each ecosystem the biomass in these locations can be rebuilt. But identifying the state is crucial. It may not be possible to rebuild in all locations, but we must establish the state of global ecosystems. An example of successful rebuilding is the Kenyan coral reef rebuilding. A network of closed areas was created in conjunction with local communities leading to recovery of the biomass and sizes of available fish (Science Magazine, 2009). And soon it led to sharp increases in fishers’ profits.
Such an encompassing plan is difficult to replicate in many rural areas where the fishers do not have much income and alternate sources of employment.
A second approach is to reduce the exploitation rates (proportion of the numbers or biomass removed by fishing). If the biomass is 1000 tons and the harvest during a year is 200 tons, the annual exploitation rate is 20%. In the Kenyan example, the closed off regions were under the control of the coast guard or marines. Other locations can follow similar suit or create an organization to oversee these regions.
Certain catch restrictions and plans can reduce the exploitation rates. This would be done by providing rights to a region or allotting a guaranteed catch limit. Such limits remove the future’s variability of profit for the fishermen and guarantee a stable source of income. The fishermen will own a share of the region or catchable fish and be invested in the future of their region. Thus they would decrease their overfishing practices. This can be done in two ways. TURFs (Territorial Use Rights Fisheries) provide rights of a certain percentage of the region to different fisheries. ITQs (Individual Transferable Quotas) are quotas of individual species. ITQs are species specific, making them useful restrictions to prevent overfishing of a particular species. TURFs are region specific, making them useful to prevent overfishing of a particular region. Each should be used based on the respective situations. Using all of these in conjunction, catch restrictions, gear modifications, and closed off regions will help rebuild regions (FAO, 2014).
There are various problems to be thought of when considering these ideas. As previously mentioned, illegal catching makes a large percentage of the global fish production, and these regulations will have no effect on curtailing illegal poachers.
Thereby, it is important to take these basic ideas and create an integrated system to encompass all facets of the problem. Mandatory harbor policing must be established. Each boat that is policed should have its catch registered and recorded. This also requires all fishing vessels to be equipped with a monitoring/tracking device to monitor the whereabouts of the 2.1 million legal registered boats in the world (UN, 2010). The returns from such a widespread investment are that with such data now officials can make sure that particular regions are not overfished by tracking the traffic there.
The addition of a monitoring mechanism is crucial to regulating the rules and plans to be made. It is physically unfeasible to monitor ships using the coast guard or other methods. Using GPS tracking with a monitoring device allows one office to track all the registered ships. Such a system will not by itself catch illegal fishing, but this data will track the paths of fishing vessels and identify extensive activity and ships to monitor specifically.
The next major part of our solution is to reduce bycatch. Bycatch is the unwanted fish that gets caught when targeting a specific type of fish. These may be the wrong sex, size, type, or species. By the time the fish are returned to the water they are usually dead. Bycatch is the direct result of non-specific fishing gear. When fishermen try to fish in bulk, they fish all types of organisms. For example, for every ton of prawn caught, three tons of other fish are killed and thrown away (DUSJ, 2012).
Some examples of these harmful fishing methods are longlines, gillnets, and trawls. Bottom trawling is a method that uses wide nets with heavy metal rollers crushing everything in the path of the net destroying fragile crustaceans, rock formations and tons of fish (Greenpeace, 2007). Longlines are long stretches of short baits that will catch any type of aquatic organism. Gillnets are large nets that are dropped into the water and will catch any organisms as well that cannot fit through the mesh holes. Another problem with these methods is ghost fishing when the equipment is abandoned and fish continue to get caught in them and die in the water.
To effectively combat the problem of bycatch, which accounts for 25% of the world’s illegal fishing, gear restrictions and modifications are needed (DUSJ, 2012). One example of this is Southern Kenya where beach seines were restricted and bycatch dramatically decreased (McClanahan). Gear modifications need to be adopted widely. Essentially, these modifications help larger fish such as whales and sharks escape nets and fishing gear. One example of this is the use of acoustic pingers which emit a frequency warning porpoises of fishing gear and help them avoid the area. Some other methods are still being developed such as whale safe hooks that allow whales to escape while still being strong enough to capture fish. We need to increase research and development of gear modifications as well as implement them.
Finally, to receive the active participation from member nations there needs to be a strong treaty signed to elicit a response. Such a treaty should stress compliance and mandatory regulation. With group solidarity it would be far easier to regulate a region such as the Mediterranean Sea rather than one nation alone.
Figure 4: The State of the World’s Commercial Fisheries
Though difficult, Mission 2019 finds that the main solution to addressing world hunger by harvesting fish, is by continuing to develop and expand aquaculture.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: “Aquaculture — also known as fish or shellfish farming — refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.” In comparison to fishing, which is collecting fish from an open body of water, which grew naturally in the wild, aquaculture is fish farming; the fish are monitored, given certain feed and grown in a confined area.
Since 1970, aquaculture has expanded at an average annual rate of 8.9%, making it the fastest-growing food production sector. In 2008, aquaculture supplied half of the fish for human consumption worldwide. With the overharvesting of wild fish, this percentage is expected to increase (The WorldFish Center, 2008).
Aquaculture has a great potential to feed the poor and improve their economic state. Developments in this practice is especially needed in Africa, whose poor population relies on fish as a large part of their animal protein diet and suffers from high rates of hunger (The WorldFish Center, 2008). For instance, in West African coastal countries, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana, more than 60% of the consumed protein is from fish. Asia could benefit from developments as well because here too, most of the population relies on fish in their diet. Same with the South Pacific, where fishing and fish farming are one of the only occupation options and the poverty is high (The WorldFish Center, 2008).
Mission 2019 suggests the use of aquaculture to solve world hunger. Therefore, the goal the global community should have is to increase production while minimizing its environmental impact and the effect it has on natural resources (FAO, 2014).
The negative environmental impacts of aquaculture are varied and can include pollution from feces, uneaten food, and chemical treatments. Habitat effects, such as the clearing out of mangrove forests for shrimp farming and the escape of farmed species which could potentially eat wild fish or compete for habitat, can also be detrimental to the environment. Moreover, farmed fish populations develop genetic mutations that harm their ability to reproduce (Frankham, 2008), and in cases where escaped fish interbreed with the local population, they may reduce the fitness of that population (Baskett and Waples, 2013). At times schools of farmed fish may suffer from diseases. In these cases, if farmed in open sea pens or if some escape, the disease can pass on to wild fish. Lastly, reliance on wild resources both for feed and for farming depletes the native population.
The different species farmed also vary in the extent of their environmental impacts (pollution, habitat effects, escapes and disease, but also in their ratio of feed to food consumption). Herbivorous and filter feeder species (such as carp or shellfish) have a much lower impact than carnivorous species (such as salmon and tuna). Most shellfish feed on naturally occurring particulates, which means that they are not polluting the water with nutrient inputs. Moreover, an abundance of shellfish can improve water quality which can assist other forms of farming (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009).
Raising carnivorous species relies heavily on wild fishing to feed the farmed fish. These fish rely on a diet of fishmeal and fish oil. For instance, in 2006, 4.9 tons of wild fish were needed for 1 ton of salmon produced. Other species have a lower feed to produce conversion (carp and catfish for instance). There have been developments in aquaculture feeds to reduce this such as Soybean meal, soy protein concentrates and soybean oil (“Soy Aqua”) (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009). From the 1990’s to 2012 there has been a decrease from 23 to 10 percent of fish used for fishmeal. This is expected to continue decreasing due to these developments and use of improved breeds with a lower fish feed to pounds of produce ratio (FAO, 2014).
Figure 5: Uses of Wild Fish Catch: Almost one third of the world’s total wild seafood catch is ground up into fishmeal and fish oil, commodities that fed to farmed fish, poultry, pigs and livestock
(Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009)
Fishmeal and fish oil is high cost and limited availability (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009). The reduction of the meal contains mostly small pelagic species (anchovies, sardines, shad, and menhaden). Therefore, the availability of fish feed depends on the fluctuations in the catches of these species. These types of fish (called telecost feed fish), have high reproduction rate and short life cycle, and are sensitive to environmental conditions e.g eggs are sensitive to temperature of the water (Arnott and Ruxton, 2000; Santos, 2001; Sherman, 1981). This has a great affect on the amount of fish available for catch (University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2003). Most fishing of these species is currently not exceeding the limit of overfishing, with the exception of less sustainable species such as blue whiting, jack mackerel and Antarctic krill. Krill is depended on by many marine animals and birds, and overfishing of it can have long term effect on the marine ecosystem (Huntington and Hasan, 2009).
The alternatives in development of agricultural feeds include soy, grains, other plant proteins, single-cell proteins, algae and byproducts from seafood and livestock processing. Private large companies are investing in developing these products (FAO, 2014).
In addition to pelagic fish, in some places smaller fish that are called “trash fish”, are used as feed for larger farmed fish. Both types of fish are suitable for human consumption, and are even advised because they are rich in nutrients. However “trash fish” are instead used to feed species with higher market value, which are sold at higher prices to consumers who do not suffer from hunger. Selling these fish in local markets could have a higher impact on alleviating hunger. For this reason, research in developing non wild-caught fish meal is important so we can use the wild caught species for feeding humans (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009).
Figure 6: Species produced by the world’s aquaculture operations (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009)
These are the most common methods of fish farming:
Open Net Pens or Cages
In this method fish are put in pens in freshwater lakes or offshore coastal areas. This method has great negative environmental effects- pollution, escapes and disease. A special type of open cage raising that has an additional environmental impact is called ranching. In this method wild fish are caught when young and raised in cages in the open ocean (Bluefin tuna is grown this way for sushi).
In this method fish are raised on the coast or inland, in an enclosed body of freshwater or saltwater. Raising fish this way can have negative impacts of pollution if the wastewater is not contained and treated (Monterey Bay, 2009).
In this method the farmer diverts water from a waterway into channels which contain fish and then back into the waterway. This method can be environmentally hazardous if the water isn’t treated properly, or in cases of escape or disease.
These are fish tanks in which water is treated and recycled through the system. This method solves most environmental concerns but is expensive and requires electricity, which not all farmers have easy access to.
These species are grown on beaches or suspended in water by ropes, trays or bags. Shellfish have the ability to clean water, but if in a packed growing environment, with little current running through, they can also lead to accumulative waste.
When evaluating these systems in terms of negative environmental effects, the important aspects are pollution, habitat effects, escapes, disease and wild resources. In general, systems that are ocean based (such as nets in the ocean) have more of an impact than closed, in land systems (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009).
By FAO projections in 2008, if just 5% of the area suitable for aquaculture in Africa were developed into fish farms, we could produce enough extra fish to feed the growing population to 2020, taking into account the current per capita consumption rates. By improving fish farming in areas such as the ones presented in Figure 6, it is possible to provide food to a billion of the world’s poorest people. Studies done by the WorldFish center claim that an investment of 40 million USD in 10 specific countries in sub-Saharan Africa could lead to an increase of 500 million USD a year in farm income and an increase of 260,000 tons of fish produced annually. By scaling these efforts we could reach the goal of a billion people.
However, in order to reach this potential, development in aquaculture will require nations to change their policies and facilitate for the infrastructure of aquaculture (The WorldFish Center, 2008).
In order to reach the production potential that can be achieved from aquaculture a joint effort between countries and international organizations should be made in several areas:
Supporting Small Scale Farming
Due to the fact that small scale fish farmers do not make as much profit as large scale farming, they are generally not as attractive to government support. This is especially common in the fishing industry (The WorldFish Center, 2008). Small scale fish farming is the dominant form in some countries. For instance, Thailand is currently the second largest producer of shrimp, most farmed in small scale farms (World Resources Institute, 2014). Because of their large influence, a focus on improving practices to lower waste and increase productivity is necessary. This will require incorporating policies that relate to aquaculture, such as price stabilization policies, subsidies, and income tax exemptions, so they can afford to invest in technological improvements. However, focus should also be in supporting medium scale, more commercial farming in areas where subsistence aquaculture has not reached the expected production quantities (FAO, 2014).
Improvements of the Crops
Improve breeding, seed production and their supply systems (FAO, 2014). Improving breeds and distributing the improved seed in a systematic way to farmers can assist in productivity (Ponzoni, Development of aquatic animal genetic improvement and dissemination programs: current status and action plans, 2006, p. 39).
Breed improvements can be done genetically or selectively. The purpose is to improve feed conversions, by that reducing the costs of farming (Tacon, Hasan and Metian, 2011). (An example to a success story of improving breeds is the Genetic Improvement of Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) project- Eknath, 1995; Gupta and Acosta, 2004). Research should be done in improving fish health management as well, and domesticating aquaculture species to reduce ranching and other capture-based aquaculture (The WorldFish Center, 2008).
Improving Fish Feed
Reduce usage of fishmeal and fish oil by encouraging farming of species that do not require as much (catfish, shellfish and such), and investing in R&D for alternative substitutions. Also, improving the dissemination mechanisms for the feed so purchasing and accessing it will be easier and more affordable
Better Farming Systems
Develop efficient farming systems which have fewer negative impacts on the environment. This can include livestock-fish-crop systems, rich-fish farming systems, which integrate pest natural management into the system, and combined species growing (fed species with herbivorous species of bivalves and inorganic species such as seaweed) (FAO, 2014). A major focus is developing more efficient systems by research of the current practices in certain areas and improving them. Developments could be in feed distribution in the water, water quality management, all raise the production rate.
An example to the effects developments can have of aquaculture is the drastic increase on production in Uganda. A change of policy in 2001 to focus on aquaculture as a market increased the annual production from 285 tons in the early 1990s to 72,800 tons in 2008. The developments were adapted to Uganda itself, developing breeding and feeding strategies, moving from strictly pond-based systems to other cage, pen and recirculating systems, taking into account the availability of water, land and other inputs in the area (Subasinghe, 2010 Farming the waters for people and food: proceedings of the Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010, 2010). The total project cost, estimated when it was proposed, was 20 million USD (African Development Fund, 2001 “Fisheries Development Project Appraisal Report” page 9)
Also, an effort should be made to increase the efficiency of water and land use and improve marketing/distribution systems (FAO, 2014)
From our understanding, the first areas to target should be ones where small scale farming is prevalent, areas where there are resources (water and land) that could be used for farming, and poor areas which could benefit from aquaculture as a source of income, in this case, Africa and Asia.
Government oversight for sustainable aquaculture should include:
- Improving monitoring and treatment of wastewater. Part of reducing waste is detecting how much feed is consumed by the stock, so the rest does not settle or pass through cages. This can be done by better feed technology, usage of cameras or trial (Huntington and Hasan, 2009). The important aspects in waste disposal that need to be treated are settleable solids and suspended solids. If settleable solids are treated frequently, it will reduce the effort in treating the suspended solids, which are harder to treat. The larger solids can be managed by filteration systems and settling basins or ponds. The smaller solids can be managed by using polishing ponds, constructed wetlands or hydroponics. There are many ways to dispose of waste: flow through systems (an estimate of 1,000 USD a year for 20,000 lbs a year of produce, according to a study from 1997), settling basins, recirculating systems (cost of about 8,000 USD for 20,000 lb a year consumption), constructed wetlands (shallow channels that have been planted with aquatic plants. The wetlands are usually for small scale waste management. The one time construction cost is about 5,500 USD), and composting (which can supplement). All these methods are costly (and the estimates need to be updated to current values). For this reason there is a need for further development in finding methods that can reduce the costs. Nevertheless, when taking into account the cost countries pay to manage the pollution once it enters the environment, they are minor (Miller and Semmens, 2002).
- Placing regulations towards other issues of non native species, disease, and dependence on wild fisheries.
- Monitoring chemical use.
- Addressing the sensitive habitats in specific areas in order to prevent their decimation. Wrong practices can lead to degradation of wetlands, lagoons, seagrass habitats, mangrove forests and inland habitats. This will only be prevented by countries having stricter regulations which demand proper zoning, impact assessments and better ecological practices (FAO, 2006). On the global scale, we are aware of the types of ecosystems that are sensitive. When it comes to the actual regulation, it is harder to manage it, but if countries decide to tackle aquaculture in the way that Uganda did, this could be addressed in the process.
- Addressing the increasing risk that expansion will affect the environment in an unsustainable way. This requires improvements in the current policies, risk assessment approaches and tools for analyzing trade-offs to manage these risks
- Developing sustainability performance standards (The WorldFish Center, 2008).
In addition to government regulations, other bodies strive to improve aquaculture. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is a regulating body, founded in 2010, whose job is to work with independent, third-party entities to certify aquaculture operations that match the global standards for responsible seafood-farming practices (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009). Improvements in aquaculture can also come from commercial interests. An example is the development of genetically improved farmed tilapia, which came from an initiative to help small scale farmers improve productivity (FAO, 2014).
The acidity in the ocean has been increasing due to increased amount of carbon dioxide in the air, which is absorbed into the ocean. The pH level of the ocean has fallen from 8.25 to 8.14 in the last 2 decades. This affects many animals, especially shellfish, which, at higher acidities, have slower calcification rates (forming a calcium, the main part of the shell), making it harder for them to form their shells. The exposed shell also may deteriorate more quickly, leading the animals to spend more energy in shell maintenance, and less in reproduction or other life activities (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2012). Oysters, for instance, are affected at a pH of 7.9 (National Shellfisheries Association, 2011). Individual nations should adjust climate change strategies to account for how fish stock will be affected and develop methods for protecting or replacing affected fisheries. More research must be done to analyze how climate change will impact fish, ecosystems and the acidity in oceans. Our impact is mostly the usage of energy for fishing and farming. Therefore by restoring marine fish populations in areas close to the where the major consumers reside, we could reduce the impact of fisheries on climate as well as economically develop the fishing communities in that area (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2009).
Climate change as well as affecting the acidity of the ocean will change the temperatures of the water and sea level. This will affect the populations of certain fish in regions where water gets warmer. The El Niño effect is a prime example of this. Anchovy stocks crashed as a direct result of this in 1975 off the coast of south america because of the increased water temperatures. Such natural changes can destabilize the equilibrium of an ecosystem required for aquatic organisms displacing them or even killing them as happened to the anchovies (University of Newcastle, 2003 “Fishmeal and Fish Oil Industry). In general aquaculture is less susceptible to climate change effects because of human intervention (FAO, 2014).
Figure 8: FAO Fish Model: world fishery production under different scenarios, from 2010-12 to 2022 (FAO, 2014)
As of 2012, the total annual capture from fishing was 91 million tons, while the production from aquaculture was 66 million tons. Although the predictions vary, all agree that produce from fishing will increase slightly, and those from aquaculture will increase significantly.
Overfishing is clearly a major problem in the fishing industry and needs to be addressed to solve the overarching problem of global food insecurity. Our solution tackles many of the problems currently affecting fishermen, environmentalists, and governmental organizations.
The structure of the solution for overfishing takes a very direct and channeled approach. In developed nations we attempt to reverse the effects of overfishing by quarantining sections, and rebuilding these within 10 years. In developing nations, we try to reverse the effects of overfishing because these nations cannot withstand the economic and monetary burdens of such a practice. With these nations the fishermen represent an agency problem where they operate to maximize their profits in a competitive environment and try to essentially fish to their maximum ability, which is in conflict with the interests of the ecosystem. In these nations we propose to provide incentive for the fishermen to be invested in the future of the ecosystem, designating rights, and joining cooperatives. This is a long term approach taking up to 20 years to create successful cooperatives.
Reducing bycatch using gear modifications can be very quickly done within 5 years but development of these modifications should continue for 10 years to improve them and bring widespread use.
Finally the third part of the solution is to curb illegal fishing through a better regulatory system. This is key for the success of our plan because illegal fishing would increase if legal overfishing is contained. Regulating bodies should use a GPS tracking system on all legal vessels with randomized searches on these vessels to monitor their catches.
In terms of aquaculture, the goal of the global community should have is to increase production while minimizing its environmental impact and the effect it has on natural resources. If production in aquaculture is multiplied by 2.3 (from the 2010 levels), it will lead to an increase of 7 million tons of fish protein which is equivalent to 14% of the needed protein increase to meet the needs of the population of 2050 (World Resource Institute, “Improving Productivity and Environmental Performance of Aquaculture” pg 14).
Figure 9: Increasing aquaculture production to 140 Mt could close 14 percent of the “animal protein gap”by 2050 (global annual animal protein availability, million tons (World Resource Institute))
This could be done mainly by developing fish feed that do not depend on wild caught fish. This will release a large amount of fish previously used as feed to the local markets. In addition effort should be made to improve feed technologies, breeds, and health management of the farmed fish. In terms of environmental impact, focus should be to develop more ecologically efficient and cheap aquaculture methods, so they can be used by subsistence farmers in less developed areas. Also, countries should place regulations to protect habitats from disease, chemicals, waste and other environmental risks that can be caused by improper farming.
Being able to fulfill such a demand proves the importance of developing future aquaculture.
From the perspective of the governments these are the key steps organizations should take: (FAO, 2014)
- Governments must make increasing fish consumption a necessary component of food security. Nations should include fish in policies and programs aimed at alleviating hunger and malnutrition. In addition, they should convert the subsidies that promote overfishing and the depletion of fish stocks to subsidies that support sustainable fish farming.
- Recognition of the importance of small scale fisheries and aquaculture. Individual governments should support local fishing operations as they contribute greatly the the economy and nutrition of a nation. In addition, legislation should be passed to protect the rights and markets of small scale operations.
- Governments should implement systems of certification for fisheries and aquaculture to verify that operations are acting responsibly in feeding the local population and protecting the local environment and economy.
- The creation of efficient markets for the distribution of fish and fish products. It is important to address the fact that distribution of fish to other countries has a negative effect on the environment due to the energy consumed in the process and on the local communities which do not have access to the produce. Therefore countries should work on developing more local markets, and encourage fish farming or fishing in local communities. On an international level, more research should be done to develop strategies for increasing the capacities of local fisheries and to implement sustainable food certifications for fisheries.
We believe that with a combined solution involving all of these aspects, fisheries and aquaculture will be able to thrive in a manner such as to alleviate the pains of global food security issues and the environmental damage caused by overfishing and wrong aquaculture practices. The fishing market is simply one facet of the overall solution needed to solve world hunger. Our plan attempts to gather data about ecosystems around the world, rebuild where possible, but slow the effects of overfishing everywhere. We have created a comprehensive solutions that is implementable albeit requiring significant contributions from international organizations understanding in the importance of combating overfishing and promoting aquaculture.
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