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Sustainable Aquaculture: a Means for Global Food Security


 

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Between 1980 and 2010, world aquaculture has grown at an annual rate of 8.8% - the fastest growing form of food production in the world.

 

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The 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans' recommends an intake of seafood of 8 or more ounces per week (less for young children) -- about 20% of total protein intake.

 

 


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We all know that the global population is rising, but did you know the amount of seafood eaten per person has been climbing steadily as well? Wild-caught fisheries have plateaued, so for the last twenty years it is aquaculture that has grown to meet this global appetite for seafood. For this reason, the largest and one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world is shining the spotlight on the role of aquaculture in global food security.

Aquaculture Focus

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston this February 14-18, four special symposia will focus on using our oceans for global food security and highlight the necessity of environmentally sustainable aquaculture. The symposia panels will address some of the key obstacles for aquaculture advancement in the U.S. and discuss innovative solutions such as ways to reduce the amount of wild fish in fish feed and recycling nutrients from fish waste NOAA's 'Seafood & Health' FAQ to fertilize terrestrial crops.

Meeting Seafood Demand

Most governments recognize that more aquaculture is needed to sustain the growing demand for seafood. With the global population estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050, food security and human health are critical issues. Seafood is especially important in much of the developing world, where it makes up a larger portion of the diet than elsewhere. “Aquaculture represents one of the most resource-efficient forms of food production,” says Dr. Michael Rust, Science Coordinator for the Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, “And as a source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, it is one of the healthiest available.”

Seafood & Your Health

The newest USDA National Dietary Guidelines recommends that individuals needs to double their seafood consumption to at least 8 ounces of seafood per week. The health benefits of eating fish and shellfish include decreasing risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension, among many other benefits.

Half of the seafood eaten on the planet comes from aquaculture and that share continues to grow.  As it does, care must be taken to ensure that aquaculture practices are developed in a safe and sustainable manner. “Aquaculture will grow, the question is whether it’s going to grow in the United States under U.S. laws and regulations or if it will grow oversees and we will continue to import it,” Rust says.

To learn more about the panels and specific aquaculture talks being given at the AAAS Annual Meeting, go to our Aquaculture at AAAS webpage.