Finfish farms can solve growing global food demand

A study has found finfish and shellfish farms can satisfy the global demand for meat, as traditional land-based meat production is hampered by limits on expansion and challenges caused by climate change.

‘Expanding ocean food production under climate change,’ published in Nature, found that finfish and shellfish farms can be used to increase the availability of healthy and sustainable meat. The industry also benefits from having a low carbon footprint and reducing the need for water and land to fuel land-based meat production.

“The global population is expected to exceed ten billion people in our grandchildren’s lifetimes. That’s a lot of people to feed. Traditional, land-based means of meat production are facing hard limits for expansion and challenges due to climate change, making the ocean an important source of protein as we strive to feed three billion more people than we have today,” researchers found.

The ocean currently supplies only 17 percent of the world’s protein supply. The study claimed that fisheries could maintain or increase their catch in the face of  challenges for meat production by adapting their practices, altering the location of their stocks and boosting productivity

While traditional meat production requires larger amounts of land, typically mariculture operations only need 3 percent or less of a country’s exclusive economic zone to meet consumer demand, the study calculated.

“Although climate change will challenge the ocean’s ability to meet growing food demands, the ocean could produce more food than it does currently through swift and ambitious action to reduce emissions, reform capture fisheries and expand sustainable mariculture operations,” the study argued.

The researchers declared that finfish and shellfish farms will be essential to fill the gap in future demand for food. Expanding sustainable ocean aquaculture could build on fisheries reforms to increase the availability of health and sustainable seafood to a growing population, study coauthor Halley Froehlich said.



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