A compelling case for the role of aquaculture in global food security


Professor Dave Little, of the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, is co-lead author of a paper on livelihoods, which found that small-scale fisheries and aquaculture are neglected by decision makers and decision makers, although they provide livelihoods for over 100 million people. people and the livelihood of one billion people around the world.

In a press release accompanying the newspapers, he said: “Small-scale fishing and aquaculture provide 90% of jobs in the sector and two-thirds of all fish and shellfish for human consumption. Despite their contributions, they are often overlooked and unsupported by politicians.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, they played a key role in food security and local livelihoods – in countries like Kenya, for example, small players quickly filled the void left by large international producers who have reduced operations.

“In Scotland, although much attention is paid to the billion-pound salmon export industry, which supports over 8,000 jobs, the potential of small-scale aquaculture to feed and provide livelihoods to rural and remote communities should not be overlooked.”


Professor Little was also co-author of a paper on nutrition, which found that blue foods ranked higher than foods of terrestrial animal origin in terms of their nutritional benefits and potential for health gains. sustainability.

He said: “Many blue food species are rich in important nutrients. Compared to chicken, trout contains about 19 times more omega-3 fatty acids; oysters and mussels contain 76 times more vitamin B-12 and five times more iron; and carp have nine times the calcium.

“The nutritional benefits of blue foods are particularly significant for women, who have been shown to benefit more than men from increased consumption in nearly three times the number of countries surveyed. Improving food security requires a gender perspective to overcome the structural disadvantages women face.

He added: “In the past, herring, mackerel, mussels and oysters off the coast of Scotland were eaten by all sectors of society in plentiful quantities, providing access to highly nutritious food even for the poorest.

“Now the government’s target of two servings of seafood a week – one of which should be oily fish – is being missed by most, especially the lowest income families, of whom only a quarter reach the ‘goal.”

Environmental impact

Dr. Richard Newton of the Institute of Aquaculture was co-author of a paper on the environmental performance of blue foods. He found that, on average, the main species produced in aquaculture, such as tilapia, salmon, catfish and carp, had environmental footprints comparable to those of chicken, the least impacting land-based meat. Small pelagic species like sardines and anchovies, bivalves and seaweed already have less impact than chicken.

Dr Newton said: “Many fish and invertebrates produced for food emit less greenhouse gases, less water pollution and use less land and water resources than food for terrestrial animals.

“Some systems, like aquaculture of mussels and oysters, can improve the environment in which they are raised by filtering excess nutrients out of the water. There are opportunities to reduce the impacts of existing blue food systems and to modify diets to include more blue food species with low environmental footprints. Much of our work here at the Institute of Aquaculture is exploring how to make aquaculture and its supply chains more sustainable.

These three articles are among the first five of a possible series of nine produced by the BFA.

scientific foundation

Professor Beatrice Crona, co-chair of the BFA and deputy scientific director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said: “Blue foods are much more diverse than commonly thought, as are the many small-scale fishing communities that are often overlooked. despite providing the majority of the blue food people eat.

Professor Rosamond Naylor, co-chair of the BFA and founding director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, said: “Few, if any, countries are developing their blue food sector to provide ecological benefits, economic and health benefits to its full potential.

“This assessment aims to provide the scientific basis for decision-makers to assess the trade-offs and implement solutions that will make blue foods an essential part of an improved food system from local to global scales.”

More than 2,500 species or groups of species of fish, crustaceans, aquatic plants and algae are caught or cultured around the world for food, providing livelihoods and income for more than 100 million people and means of sustenance at a billion.

More information

The full list of research papers produced as part of the Blue Food Assessment is available online. A list of the BFA management team is also available here.

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