Speaking at IFFO’s 2023 conference, FAO assistant DG and director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division Manuel Barange highlighted the critical role of aquatic foods in reducing world hunger, with an estimated 800 people around the world undernourished.
He commented that over the last decade the consumption of aquatic foods has grown at twice the rate of population growth, thus making net contributions to the nutrition of the human population – and this growth has been possible thanks to aquaculture, the fastest growing food production industry in the last 50 years, bringing per capita consumption of aquatic foods (excluding algae) to 20.5 kg/year.
He stated that FAO estimates that production of aquatic foods over the 2020s will not be sufficient to compensate for population growth in Africa, and as a result, per capita consumption of aquatic foods may decline.
‘FAO has developed a Blue Transformation strategy to address this growing problem, promoting sustainable aquaculture growth, ensuring all fisheries are placed under effective management and developing the value chains of aquatic foods,’ he said, adding that its target is to achieve 35% growth in global aquaculture by 2030 with quality foods that are produced sustainably.
This calls for 100% of marine and inland fisheries to be under effective management to produce Maximum Sustainable Yields. A further objective is to upgrade value chains to ensure the social, economic and environmental viability of aquatic food systems; with the target of increasing and more inclusive returns from aquatic foods, by halving loss and waste, more transparency and traceability, better market access, and more consumer awareness.
‘It is not just focusing on growth; fisheries need to be managed and an example where this is not being done is in West Africa,’ Manuel Barange said.
‘The public and society will judge the industry and we need to ensure that the fisheries in this area are sustainably managed.’
The conference touched on the need to accept a shared responsibility to ensure traceability – and to make information easier to understand and communication a key priority.
‘Within the marine ingredients industry, we have all contributed fantastically to the sustainable use of resources that principally humans do not eat, including trimmings which enable other usage of this fantastic material. These unique fantastic ingredients have a huge potential for different markets; even fishmeal is not just protein. IFFO is continuously working for the industry to be more sustainable and encouraging those regions who are trying to be more sustainable to keep improving,’ commented Pelagia CEO Egil Magne Haugstad.
‘The story around feed ingredients has very much been a story about volumes. With 40 million tonnes of additional volumes of feed ingredients needed by 2030, no replacement is happening.
Supplementation is happening. Now, there is a need to set the sustainability agenda. We are setting it. Because a value chain approach to sustainability is critical to long term business success, resilience and the industry’s licence to operate. Customers, consumers, investors and civil society organisations will hold us responsible for any ESG discrepancies across the marine ingredients value chain, even if these originate from one of our suppliers,’ stated “IFFO’s DG Petter Martin Johannessen.
Manuel Barange pointed out that two out of three fisheries are not overfished – according to the FAO figures.
‘The most valuable fisheries, with a larger volume of production, tend to be well managed, and this is because the investment to improve management is worth it. There will always be a bad story, we need to celebrate success and help those who fall behind, which tend to be those that are of lower value,’ he said, commenting that land in Africa is not an issue so there is huge potential for aquaculture, but it needs to be efficient and dynamic – with marine ingredients used in a targeted way, such as in broodstock and hatcheries.
‘Countries need to recognise aquatic foods in their nutritional strategies, understanding their role in combating hunger and achieving the SDGs,’ Manuel Barange concluded.