Terrestrial and aquatic food production systems share a range of common problems that need solutions. Rachel Norman from the University of Stirling reports.
A mathematical biologist by training, I was very keen to tease out whether we could treat fish and crops as being the same when we come to think about problems in food security.
After some consternation amongst my biological colleagues, there was consensus that aquaculture systems share some common features with both crops and chickens – they both have relatively high stocking densities, for example. They also share common risks, for example disease outbreaks can be devastating in all cases.
Continue reading Surf and turf: bringing crop and fish people together
Insect farms could recover the true value of wasted organic nutrients, improve local food security and assist in environmental protection, says Keiran Olivares Whitaker of Entocycle.
Agriculture is probably the single most damaging human activity for the planet. Natural resources are already stretched, and to feed the future growing population and meet the demographic shifts in diet, extreme environmental damage will occur.
The optimum direction would be for the global population to shift to a more plant-based diet. The trajectory however is for 70% increase (PDF) in fish and meat consumption by 2050. But around 70% of agricultural land and 70% of fresh water use is already designated to produce feed for animals (PDF), and a recent report from The Economist has highlighted nearly 100% of fish stocks are now under pressure, to varying degrees of severity.
Continue reading Advancing insects as animal feed
How can fish-producing technology scale up to feed more people? GFS science writer Theresa Meacham casts the net wide.
Having just launched the latest GFS Insight about Aquaculture (PDF), I have been thinking a lot about the role that fish have in our food system. For a start, in the UK we sell most of the fish we catch and eat imported fish mostly caught abroad!
Aquaculture production has increased at an average rate of 8.9% since 1970 in the UK. But in fact our industry is tiny compared to Asian production which is 89% of the global total. Some of the drivers behind this growth (despite exquisite taste!) have been the health benefits associated with eating fish and shellfish products, environmental pressures on land and wild fisheries as well as an increasing world population.
Continue reading Insights on aquaculture: technology and development
Jodie Clarke explores innovative projects that use unusual spaces and intriguing technologies to farm fresh produce for urban populations.
Urban centres are expanding across the globe. Today, half of the world’s population live in urban environments, and by 2050 this figure will rise to 70%.
In countries such as China and India, this process is unfolding at an exceptional rate, with skyscrapers and highways appearing where farms and fields existed only a decade ago.
Continue reading Vertical farming and friends
The SEAT project is aiming for major gains in fish and shellfish farming, says Dave Little.
Feeding people requires a lot of energy. Production, distribution and consumption of food accounts for 20-25% of the energy consumption in developed countries. The largest energy investments are made in the production of protein-rich produce, such as meat and fish. In beef production, for example, energy used (per kilo of whole animal produced) ranges from 38-48 MJ/kg-1 compared to meat derived from pigs at 16-18MJ/kg-1.
Continue reading Aquaculture, protein production and efficiency
A think-tank suggests that all fishing in Europe should cease to let stocks recover. Credible plan or silly talk? Stefano Mariani tests the bait.
Would a complete ban on all fishing in Europe for up to nine years be an effective way to replenish fishing grounds?
That’s the conclusion of the report ‘No Catch Investment’ from the UK-based think tank New Economics Foundation (NEF) that looked at 54 northeast Atlantic fish stocks, 49 of which are overfished. They say that halting current overexploitation would allow fish stocks the time to recover. And that the long-term increase in their monetary value as populations bounce back (£14.63Bn per year) will offset the short-terms costs (£10.4Bn) of not fishing (compensating fisherman etc.) which they suggest should be paid for by the private sector – the people who will make the estimated £4Bn profit later – not the public purse.
Continue reading Should we stop fishing?
Harvesting plants from the sea is an essential part of successful marine agronomy, says John Forster.
Aquaculture has been the subject of two recent high profile reports. The first, entitled Blue Frontiers, begins by asserting ‘There is a pressing need to elevate the debate on the future of aquaculture and to place this in the context of other animal food production systems, including wild capture fisheries’. The second report made the front cover of Time Magazine and poses the question ‘Can farming save the last wild food?’
Both reports make important points. Between 1970 and 2008, global aquaculture production grew (PDF) at an average rate of 8.4% per year, and aquaculture remains one of the fastest growing food producing sectors measured in terms of year-on-year percentage gain. Furthermore, because the world’s fisheries are yielding all they can, there is simply no option but to farm seafood if growing human demand for animal protein is to be met.
Continue reading Elevating the aquaculture debate
It’s time to make more productive use of the sea, says John Forster.
What should we expect from marine aquaculture in the future? Will it serve simply to top up supplies of fish and shellfish from capture fisheries, as it does now and as is mostly assumed, or does it promise something more?
There will be around 9.1 billion people on Earth by 2050 and traditional farming might not be able to produce enough food for them. Limited fresh water and arable land will constrain agricultural growth, while growing affluence in developing countries will add to the challenge as people eat more meat or turn food crops into biofuel. Therefore, ‘Will the oceans feed humanity?’
Continue reading Towards a marine agronomy