GLOBAL - Speaking at the World Seafood Congress in Grimsby, UK, Stephen Hall, WorldFish, explains the organization’s mission to reduce hunger and poverty by improving fisheries and aquaculture and how we must deal with aquaculture’s projected deficit if we are to feed a growing population, writes Lucy Towers.
Twenty per cent of animal protein intake for 3 billion people is fish and those who depend the most on fish are also those who are most food/nutrition insecure.
We know that aquaculture will play a big role in the future to help feed these people, but do we know how much fish we actually need to produce to satisfy the real need.
Projections show that by 2030, 109 million Metric Tonnes (MT) will come from aquaculture and 61 million MT from capture.
However, by using two approaches that make projections for the amount of fish we need based on what is adequate and what is consumed by those dependent, the actual estimated fish requirement in 2030 is instead around 232 million MT.
So we will be 62 million MT short unless we do something, Mr Hall explained. The gaps will be the largest and felt the most in Sub Saharan Africa.
With aquaculture needing to produce 39 million MT more than the 109 projected, it is important that research now focuses on how we can maximize the potential from aquaculture, especially in third countries.
We must also think about how this can be done sustainably and how we can distribute it to where it is actually needed, continued Mr Hall.
Research and thought must also go into how we sustainably intensify aquaculture, finding technology and financing combinations that accelerate pro-poor aquaculture development.
Sustainable fish feed alternatives must be developed as, for example, in Indonesia if aquaculture grows as is projected it will require more fish meal than what is caught from capture fisheries in Indonesian waters now.
Improving the nutritional value of farmed fish is also very important and we must shift from thinking about the volume produced to the quality, Mr Hall explained.
If fed right, fish can be turned into a more nutritious food which will be invaluable to those who are food insecure, especially women and young children who often get the least to each in the family household.
A strong research agenda is now needed to address these challenges. And to do so will require skills from ecology, biology, economics and anthropology all working together.