Future of food from the sea

The fisheries and aquaculture sector is a vital source of livelihoods, nutritious food and economic opportunities, and has a key role to play in meeting one of the world’s greatest challenges of feeding the population set to rise to 9.6 billion people by 2050. Fisheries and aquaculture play a significant role in eliminating hunger, promoting health and reducing poverty.

If future potential of food production from the ocean are estimated than it concludes with the fact that, the oceans are uniquely positioned to contribute to food security due to the highly nutritious nature of seafood, which contains essential vitamins, minerals, long chain omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients not found in plant-based or terrestrial animal proteins. With reform, capture fisheries could produce as much as 20 percent more catch compared to today and up to 40 % more than projected future catch, under current fishing pressures. Yet the largest potential gains for food production lie in the sustainable expansion of mari-culture not only due to its nutritional capacity but as a source of gaining wealth as well. Employment in this sector has grown faster than the world’s population. Small-scale fisheries (marine and inland) employ about 90% of those involved in fisheries.

Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5% of global GDP.

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Fish continues to be one of the most-traded food commodities worldwide. It is especially important for developing countries, sometimes worth half the total value of their traded commodities. Oceans, seas, coastal areas and the associated blue economy are critical to global and national development, food security and the fight against hunger and poverty. They are both engines for economic growth and sources of food and jobs. However, overfishing, pollution and unsustainable coastal development are contributing to irreversible damage to habitats, ecological functions and biodiversity. Climate change and ocean acidification are compounding such impacts at a time when the rising global population requires more fish as food, and as coastal areas are becoming home to a growing percentage of the world’s population.

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The potential to grow the blue economy is limited by a series of challenges. Aquatic ecosystems have been viewed and treated as limitless resources and largely cost-free repositories of waste. But the resources are never limitless unless we follow sustainable consumption accompanied by the special care to secure for future generations.

We are increasingly seeing the impacts of this approach. The narrow coastal interface is oversubscribed by myriad sectors, and increasingly impacted by climate change. Rising demand, ineffective governance institutions, inadequate economic incentives, technological advances and insufficient management tools have led to inefficiently regulated or unregulated competition among users. This in turn has resulted in excessive use, and in some cases irreversible change of valuable aquatic resources and coastal areas. In this increasingly competitive space, the interests of those most dependent and vulnerable are often marginalized.

Despite a range of actors and large investments, current attempts to overcome these challenges have mostly been piecemeal with no comprehensive strategy. A more systematic approach must be incorporated based on a better understanding of nationally defined priorities, social context and resource base to harness blue growth which definitely demand assessment of blue resources.

The world food day 2021 is the day to rethink about the alternate supplier of our food because Food from the ocean is of great economic and social value and millions of people depend on the ocean for their income, jobs, food, protein and other nutrients. Yet harnessing the potential of our ocean to provide food for the future cannot be achieved by any single country alone. It requires a unified global vision, centered around sustainability, multilateral actions and significant investments to support nations in their efforts to secure jobs, food and nutrition for billions of people.

The contributor is MD IRP/Faculty Dept of H&SS, Bahria University Karachi/National coordinator of Blue Economy

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