June 2012: Fish and Food Security: a viable path?
This month, the Pacific Ocean Library blog focuses on fish and food security. How can fish provide a resource to combat world hunger? What steps are taking place locally and globally to ensure fisheries are managed sustainably in order to maintain the supply?
With world population expected to grow from the present 6.8 billion people to about 9 billion by 2050, the need for food supply and food security are critical for both social and environmental reasons. Food security is achieved when “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” As arable land is becoming increasingly limited due to development and urbanization, other sources of food supply are essential in feeding earth’s growing population. Many experts believe that marine resources offer the potential to contribute significantly to feeding the world as land resources are unable to keep up with population growth.
Below we offer an overview of fish and food security, and highlight a few articles recently added to the Pacific Ocean Library that provide insight into fish and food security problems and solution.
Pacific Islands and Food Security
The Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) provide an example of the important role of fish in food security. Comprising a land area of only 553,959 km2 spread across the world’s largest ocean, PICTs rely on marine resources as a mainstay for food security due to the small relative land mass. Marine fisheries provide essential protein and contribute to livelihoods.
Seafood is highly nutritious, rich in essential micronutrients, minerals, essential fatty acids and proteins, and represents an excellent supplement to nutritionally deficient, cereal-based diets. In the Pacific Islands, artisanal fisheries are particularly vital for meeting food supply demands and supporting livelihoods. In the Solomon Islands, for example, an estimated 2 million artisanal fishers depend on the region’s coastal reefs and mangroves for subsistence and income. Artisanal fisheries are facing increased pressure to keep pace with demand at a rate that has raised concern. Marine resource productivity is being impacted by excessive fishing pressure, land- and sea-based pollution, toxic contamination, coastal development and degradation, and climate change. In the Pacific Islands, for example, reef dwelling fish are threatened due to declining coral reef health attributed to increasing ocean temperatures, sea level rise and changes to coastal circulation patterns. Sustainable marine resources management is critical in helping secure this food source over the long-term in the Pacific and worldwide.
Key solutions for ensuring fisheries food security include aquaculture and sustainable fisheries management practices. Aquaculture offers an opportunity to provide the means for enhancing food supply globally, as well as supporting small-scale fisheries in the Pacific Islands. In 2010, aquaculture grew faster than any other food producing sector and if sustained, could supply more than 50% of aquatic food consumption by 2015. Nevertheless, poor aquaculture practices can lead to negative environmental impacts due to polluting by-products, side effects of antibiotics released into surrounding waters and the inefficient use of wild fish to create meal for edible fish production. Market-based fisheries management mechanisms such as subsidies, eco-labeling, and sustainable fisheries certification may offer an option for supporting sustainable management. Rights-based management mechanisms, such as catch shares and the allocation of access rights, offer another avenue for improving sustainabilityfisheries.
Want to learn about more the linkages between aquaculture and global food security? The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Fisheries and Aquaculture Department produced a video segment that highlights the growth and challenges faced by this growing sector. Click here to view the presentation and gain insight into this potential solution to fish and food security.
Fish and Food Security Research
This month we highlight fish and food security in three articles that provide insight into the threats to fisheries, and look into possible solutions for sustainably providing the resource. Click on the title links below to view the abstracts in the library and while you are there, have a look around!
This report looks at identifying how fisheries and aquaculture contribute to poverty reduction and food security. It addresses relative benefits to food security from policies favoring the development of small-scale and larger-scale aquaculture.
This report provides an insight into the changing demand for fish in the Solomon Islands over the next 20 years. It identifies where future imbalances may occur between fish supply and demand as well as opportunities to address these imbalances in ways that are resilient to natural disasters, social and political instability, and the uncertainties of climate change.
This report presents the analysis and findings of the International Sustainability Unit’s (ISU) research and consultative work in seeking to understand what is necessary to achieve more sustainable fisheries worldwide. It outlines the critical importance of wild fish stocks and the benefits that come from their sustainable management. It shows how these benefits are already being realized in fisheries around the world through the implementation of a wide range of tried and tested tools for sustainability.
Explore the Library!
Did you know that the Pacific Ocean Library now contains more than 6,500 articles, government publications and reports from the Pacific region that focus on the greatest threats, environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and potential solutions for the region? The library is a great resource for anyone involved in coastal and ocean conservation and management. Each month, we select focal topics of importance to practitioners, managers, academics, decision-makers and stakeholders within Pacific Ocean communities and add interesting reports, resources and tools to help provide you with a robust one-stop information source. This month, we added 36 new articles related to fish and food security (aquaculture, fisheries management, artisanal fishing, and solutions) with a focus on Pacific Islands, Asia, and coastal systems.