Aquaculture and Sustainable Seafood

Seafood brings benefits to both human health and the environment and can have an increasingly important role to play for a sustainable food future. Large variability of how different ”blue foods” contribute and relate to environmental performance, nutritional qualities and food security pose challenges for policies aiming to steer the food system towards sustainability. However, this diversity also opens up for possibilities.

Seafood is important

One of the greatest challenges facing humanity today is how to feed a growing world population a healthy diet, produced in ways that do not threaten key Earth system processes. In 2015, fish accounted for about 17% of animal protein consumed globally, providing a substantial part of daily animal protein intake for more than 3 billion people. Projections on future seafood production suggest limited growth for the capture fisheries sector, implying that the lion’s share of the anticipated increase in demand for seafood will have to be met by aquaculture. Being the aquatic counterpart of agriculture, aquaculture production has increased rapidly in recent decades, and today it produces more than half of all fish and shellfish that we eat globally.

Future seafood

What role seafood will and can play for our future food portfolio remains to be seen, but the optimism is large, particularly when it comes to the role of oceans in sustainably expanding global food production. However, the increased understanding of interconnections between aquatic production and land resources, as well as how seafood production and consumption can result in unequal benefits, brings important perspectives for decisions on development pathways.

The research

Research within the program focus on; a deepened understanding of the environmental performance of diverse seafood production; seafoods role for improving nutrition qualities and human health; analysis and development of seafood sustainability metrics; antibiotics in aquaculture production; the role of seafood for resilient food systems; market-based governance mechanisms, e.g. seafood eco-certification and seafood consumer behavior.

Guiding research questions

1. What are the resulting implications from an expanding aquaculture industry – what
will it mean for interlinked systems/sectors (on land in water), resilience and equity?
2. How will increased demand for aquaculture products effect overall global food
security – i. e. what important linkages to global boundaries and dynamics need to
be considered?
3. An increased appetite for species demanding fish resources and/or high quality
crops, prompted not only by emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil – what
are the implications for global food security and equity?
4. Moving toward reduced use of fish resources per unit aquaculture production results
in that more inputs in the form of higher quality agriculture crop products are
needed. What effects might this have on total food availability – who are the winners
and who are the losers? What is the role of the market and what incentives can be
created for more fair resource utilization?
5. To what extent will farmed fish substitute for meat consumption globally or
regionally? Benefits/drawbacks? What incentives exist? Health effects?
6. Salmon aquaculture has been suggested to be the next “super-chicken” – what will
the consequences be from a large expansion of the sector for overall resilience and
food security?
7. What are the features that needs to be accounted for in a broad system analysis of
interlinked food systems – what analysis tool are available for this?
8. What is the role of seafood for improving ocean health?