US - Future growth to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population must come from aquaculture, explained Dr James Anderson, University of Florida, whilst giving his plenary talk at Aquaculture 2016 in Las Vegas, US, reports Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.
By 2050 the world will need 60 per cent more food to feed 9 billion people.
Food production is already increasing and, on average, there is actually enough food for everyone, however the distribution of this food is very uneven, explained Dr Anderson.
With wild fish catches stagnating, future growth in seafood production is expected to come from aquaculture.
By 2030, 50 per cent of the total fish harvest will come from aquaculture. Tilapia and shrimp farming will likely increase by 90 per cent and most of the major growth (around 100 per cent increase) will come from India, Latin America and South East Asia.
China is expected to consume 40 per cent of all seafood produced and the biggest tonnage gains will be in mollusc production.
In the US, most of the seafood consumed comes from aquaculture and around 95 per cent is imported.
So how do we get the market to grow?
Firstly we need to increase market share through consistent availability and quality, explained Dr Anderson.
It is also important to provide the information to consumers that aquaculture has efficient resource use, low waste and lower greenhouse gas and nutrient emissions than other land based foods.
Consumers generally understand the health message that seafood is good for them but it will be a focus on convenience, taste, price and value that increases consumption.
For aquaculture production to grow, it is also important to have stable or declining market prices, as fluctuating prices make it hard to develop a market and a plan.
Since 2008, the volatility of tilapia prices have gone down but for shrimp it has increased. This is due to disease, namely Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS).
Disease therefore is a barrier to market development.
Moving forward, for aquaculture to grow sustainably it will require better management of disease and biosecurity, improved feeds, a further reduction in waste whilst continuing to improve efficiency, the elimination of seafood fraud and the improvement of relationships with environmental groups.
Aquaculture is already starting to be accepted by environmental groups, with the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch starting to list some farmed fish on its green list, said Dr Anderson.
Key areas to development also include doing more with algae and working better with consumers to show the transparency, safety and sustainability of farmed seafood.
Government support of aquaculture will also play a major role as a lack of support and regulatory barriers hold back production, as can be seen with the stagnating aquaculture production in the US.
In a final comment, Dr Anderson noted, low cost and reliable producers will usually win in a free trade world.