In our extraction of food from the oceans, ‘business as usual’ is not sustainable from social, economic and environmental viewpoints.
The oceans are home to a large number of resources that are either not exploited or are marginally exploited currently and which could improve food security and the wellbeing of humanity. Increased food production from the ocean could release some of the pressure that has been put on agriculture, as well as supporting a range of livelihoods and activities associated with the fishing and mariculture industries.
Key options for how to obtain more food and biomass from the ocean:
- Tackling waste and discards. It is quite common that around one quarter of the catch constitutes unwanted species or undersized fish, termed ‘bycatch’. Part of the bycatch is landed and used, but the unused fraction is thrown back into the ocean (often dead or dying) as discards. This practice is a wasted opportunity for biomass and food production as the potential for utilisation of discard and other waste is significant.
- Harvesting wild animal species at lower trophic levels, which today are either not exploited at all, or only marginally. Plankton, zooplankton and wild macroalgae could be used as as a food source for mankind.
- Developing aquaculture, and especially supporting the mariculture of macroalgae, marine herbivores, such as bivalves and marine carnivores and introducing multi-trophic aquaculture which integrates the production of species from different tropic levels.
- Providing trustworthy consumer information on industrial fishing and mariculture.
- Cultivating new approaches to social responsibility, which focus on open innovation, co-production of knowledge and social responsibility on multiple levels.
- Introducing financial strategies that promote sustainable fishing.