A visionary “blue shift” strategy to enhance underwater food systems |

The third day of the conference, which highlighted the state of the global fishing industry and the sustainability of aquaculture, marked the launch of the flagship report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the state of world fisheries and aquaculture.

Increasing demand for fish and other aquatic foods is causing rapid change in the entire sector, with consumption expected to increase, mostly driven by rapid population increase, changes in post-harvest and distribution practices, as well as in food trends focused on improving health and nutrition.

Is sustainability at sea realistic?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which was created in 1945 to alleviate hunger, current demand, and the approach taken to meet the needs of 10 billion people as populations grow, is putting pressure on food systems, at the same time as climate change, COVID-19, and the decline Environmental, conflict puts them to the test.

The flagship report on the State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) analyzes the state of global stocks as well as trends in fisheries and aquaculture, including at the regional level.

Focusing on “Transformation Blue,” a visionary strategy aimed at enhancing the potential of underwater food systems and feeding a sustainably growing global population, Sophia serves as an important reference for governments, policy makers, academics and others in the sector.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said a “blue shift” in how aquatic foods are produced, managed, traded and consumed, in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

As the sector continues to expand, FAO says more targeted transformational changes are needed to achieve a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable fisheries and aquaculture sector, and combat the growing threat of food insecurity.

Speaking to the press, Manuel Barang, Director of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, stressed that this is the first time such a major report has been launched outside of FAO’s headquarters in Rome.

record high

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the growth of aquaculture, particularly in Asia, has brought total production in this sector to an all-time high of 214 million tons in 2020, consisting of 178 million tons of aquatic products and 36 million tons of aquatic products. Algae for consumption.

Production in 2020 was 30 percent higher than the average in the 2000s and more than 60 percent above the 1990s average.

There is a real concern about fish prices, food prices in general, but fish prices in particular Which grew by 25 percent from December of last yearuntil April of this year. [That] It puts pressure on the consumer,” Mr. Parang told reporters.

Food insecurity

With more than 800 million people now going hungry and 2.4 billion people with severely limited access to adequate food, the challenge of feeding a growing population without depleting existing resources continues to grow.

In this context, aquatic food systems are increasingly in the spotlight, due to their enormous capacity to meet the growing demand.

“The growth of fisheries and aquaculture is vital in our efforts to end world hunger and malnutrition, but more transformation is needed in this sector to meet the challenges,” says Xu Dongyu, FAO Director-General.

“We must transform agri-food systems to ensure the sustainability of aquatic food harvests, protect livelihoods, and protect aquatic habitats and biodiversity,” he added.


The significant growth in aquaculture has driven global fisheries and aquaculture production to a record level as aquatic foods make an increasingly critical contribution to food security and nutrition in the twenty-first century.

Speaking in the SDGs media zone at the conference in Lisbon, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Oceans, Peter Thompson, described aquaculture as “the world’s healthiest nutrition,” which has “the potential to feed our grandchildren and future generations, if we do so.” correctly “.

©FAO / John Wessels

Senegalese fishermen unload fish from their boats to sell in local markets and export to other countries.

Aquaculture as a solution

In 2020, animal aquaculture production reached 87.5 million tons, a six percent increase from 2018. On the other hand, the catch from the open seas decreased to 90.3 million tons, a decrease of 4 percent compared to the three-year average. previous. Years.

The increasing demand is leading to rapid change in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Consumption is expected to increase by 15 percent to provide an average of 21.4 kg per capita in 2030, driven mostly by rising incomes and urbanization, changes in post-harvest and distribution practices, as well as in food trends focused on improving health and nutrition.

with Total aquatic food production is expected to reach 202 million tons in 2030This is mainly due to the continuous growth in aquaculture, and the number is expected to reach 100 million tons for the first time in 2027, and 106 million tons in 2030.

“We need to make sure that we start looking at species that are reaching markets that may be different from historical ones,” said Mr. Parang, adding that if climate change is adapted correctly, per capita aquatic food consumption will continue to grow. , helping to relieve stress on Earth-based food production systems.

People in fishing communities

“More than 58 million People directly depend on fisheries and aquaculture: fishermen, fishermen and aquaculturists‘” stressed FAO expert Mr. Barang.

Fisheries and aquaculture contribute to employment, trade, and economic development.

According to the latest data, it is estimated that 58.5 million people work in this sector, of whom only 21 percent are women.

Neighbors help each other pull a fishing net in Gentuma Raya, Indonesia.

© ADB / Eric Sales

Neighbors help each other pull a fishing net in Gentuma Raya, Indonesia.

It is estimated that around 600 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture in some way for their lives and livelihoods. With these numbers, it is clear that the need to build resilience is critical to achieving equitable and sustainable development.

Margaret Nakato, coordinator with the Katusi Women’s Development Trust (KWDT) in Uganda, who is also participating in the conference, works with fishermen and fishermen on the ground.

The conference heard that “one of the problems is that current conservation systems contribute to the displacement and destruction of fishing communities from their territories.”

She called on member states to involve small fishing communities, saying that “any sustainability agenda must take them into account, as well as the social, cultural and economic components of fishing communities, to ensure that our measures are effective but that we also can share equitable benefits from the resources.”

The need to transform

The Food and Agriculture Organization says more needs to be done to feed a growing world population while boosting the sustainability of fragile stocks and ecosystems and protecting lives and livelihoods in the long term.

The sustainability of marine fish resources remains a major concern, according to the FAO report, with the percentage of sustainable fishing stocks dropping to 64.6 percent in 2019, down 1.2 percent from 2017.

A mobile fishing port in Senegal.

© FAO / Sylvain Cherkaoui

A mobile fishing port in Senegal.

However, there are encouraging signs with sustainable fishing stocks providing 82.5 percent of the total volume of landings for 2019 – an increase of 3.8 percent since 2017. This appears to indicate that larger stocks are being managed more effectively.

Before leaving the stage, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Peter Thompson called for more funding for SDG 14, and suggested that the funding be put into alternatives.

“I think things are changing,” he said, stressing the need to fund the solutions being developed. “Business is about money, put a hand in the pocket and make it happen,” Mr. Thompson concluded.

Until Friday, UN News will bring you daily coverage of the conference as well as interviews, podcasts and features that you can access here.

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