The world’s oceans have the capacity to supply much of the food required to feed a growing world population, primarily through the sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture, according to a new report – but not without improved ocean management and new technology.
The Future of Food from the Sea, the first in a planned series of sixteen Blue Papers commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, comes to the conclusion that better management and technological innovation could enable a sixfold increase in the supply of food from the ocean compared to current levels.
This could account for more than two-thirds of the animal protein needed to feed a growing world population.
‘This is an important report, which is based on sound knowledge – taking a closer look at the potential of the ocean and what the challenges are,’ said research director Geir Huse at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research (IMR).
IMR is not on the list of authors, but were represented at the launch event in Rome by research director Peter Haugan, one of the chairs of the High Level Panel Expert Group. The only Norwegian author on this first Blue Paper is Linda Nøstbakken from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).
The orthodox view has been that the wild fisheries have reached the limit of their potential.
The Blue Paper argues to the contrary that provided necessary changes are made, capture fisheries could produce as much as 20% more compared to today under the current level of fishing pressures.
It also proposes that the largest potential gains for food production lie in marine aquaculture, although change is also needed in this area, especially concerning feed and environmental effects.
‘Norway has invested a lot in ocean management, and we profit from that through the sustainable extraction of resources. Our system of management is based on research and knowledge, in addition to business regulations and control. This model can definitely provide solutions to some of the challenges pointed to in the Blue Paper,’ Geir Huse said.