The European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism says more food and biomass can be obtained from the oceans.
Micro sea creatures and underwater plants may be a key element to tackle world hunger. According to the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), who published on November 29th 2017 its first Evidence Review Report titled Food from the Oceans, underwater food and biomass can feed a greater proportion of the world’s population. The ocean indeed accounts for almost half of the planet’s biological production. The study was led by the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM), in response to a request formulated by the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries by.
When asked can more food and biomass be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits, the SAM unequivocally said yes. And the need is real: FAO says that by 2050, the world will need 50 percent more food to meet population growth. The six-member science panel more specifically looked at mariculture – a branch of seawater farming that involves cultivating fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants under controlled conditions. A better management of this branch could add an extra 300 to 400 million metric tonnes of biomass for food or feed each year.
However, to do so, maritime fisheries and aquaculture policy development must be informed to help increase the quantity of sustainable food coming from the ocean. Wild fishing has passed the point at which fish stocks are sustainable, the report says. Farmed fish production, by comparison, is expanding 6.5 per cent a year. Oceanic farming is not a perfect food supply through, the group acknowledges. It needs to be regulated prudently and efficiently if it is not to follow the same excesses as land farming.
In addition, mainstreaming a responsible culture isn’t the only solution: “The two main messages in our findings: there’s more in the oceans than fish. And we have to pay attention, in order to protect maritime resources for future generations,” said SAPEA chair, Gunter Stock. That means mariculture should turn towards more herbivorous fish, molluscs, seaweed and bivalves. Greater variety in farming could alleviate food supply fears for an estimated 9 billion people by 2050, the SAM team says.
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