A new paper featuring contributions from PML Director of Science Professor Manuel Barange outlines why fish deserve more attention in food policies in our quest to meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population.
Fish already make a major contribution to the human food supply, providing more than 4.5 billion consumers with at least 15% of their average per capita intake of animal protein and essential fatty acids and micronutrients for improving human health.
Surprisingly, limited attention has been given so far to fish as a key element in food security strategies at a national level, even though fish are providing more protein per capita than pig, poultry and beef, and in terms of efficiency, fish aquaculture systems are more efficient converters of protein than most terrestrial livestock systems.
The paper suggests that the main reason why fish have not been given prominence in food policies may have been that specialists in fisheries debates have concentrated on questions of biological sustainability and on the economic efficiency of fisheries, thus neglecting issues linked to its contribution to reducing hunger and malnutrition and to supporting livelihoods. In addition, most (non-fishery) food security experts and decision makers could be unaware of the critical role that fish are likely to play in the future. As a result, the tremendous potential for improving food security and nutrition embodied in the strengthening of the fishery and aquaculture sectors has been largely missed.
PML’s collaborative research using models to make predictions of future fish supply and demand helped to strengthen and provide evidence to make the case for closer integration of fish into the overall debate and future policy about food security and nutrition. The paper acknowledges that further forecasting is still needed to better incorporate behavioural changes in our future demands for fish.
It is anticipated that this paper will become a key-reference in the coming years when it comes to discussing the contribution of fish to future food security and nutrition, feeding 9 billion people in 2050 and beyond.