Governments must cooperate to seize the opportunities of a “blue food revolution”
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) welcomes the findings of the Blue Food assessment, but calls for more action from the international community.
Today’s publication of Blue Food Rating (BFA) sends a strong and powerful message to policymakers that they must act now, if future generations are to benefit from the ‘blue food revolution’, according to MSC, the non-profit organization responsible for the world’s largest product certification program from the sea to the world.
The report gives one of the most comprehensive reviews to date of the role blue foods could play in addressing the combined challenges of climate change, sustainability and malnutrition. With the growth in global demand for blue food expected to approximately double by 2050, the sustainable management of our ocean resources offers a win-win solution for people and the planet.
As the BFA points out, as aquaculture has an increasingly important role to play, the sustainable management of wild capture fisheries around the world is also imperative to feed a growing population. It also offers opportunities to reduce the environmental footprint of animal proteins compared to terrestrial production.
Research shows that while all wild capture fisheries used sustainable practices, 16 million tonnes of additional catches could be generated each year, MSC’s own analysis suggesting that this meet the protein needs of an additional 72 million people worldwide. The importance of effective fisheries management has been demonstrated by the rebuilding fish stocks, including some commercial tuna species, Patagonian toothfish, Icelandic cod and Cantabrian anchovies.
Globally, however, the percentage of overexploited fish stocks is increasing year by year, with 34% are now fished beyond sustainable limits. Climate change is also creating new challenges for some of the best managed fisheries in the world. Many governments are struggling to agree on how to reallocate fishing quotas and prevent overfishing as the distribution of fish stocks crosses geopolitical boundaries. The recent suspension of sustainable certification of North-East Atlantic mackerel, herring and blue whiting fishing provide the most relevant examples.
Erin Priddle, Program Director for the Marine Stewardship Council in Northern Europe, says:
âThe assessment of blue foods demonstrates the enormous potential that blue foods – both farmed and wild – have to feed the world’s growing population. However, it is essential that this growth be sustainable and well managed.
âWith the Sustainable Development Goals due in just nine years, now is the time for policy makers to act. Climate change, population growth and overfishing are converging to create a perfect storm that threatens the future health of our aquatic resources and the billions of people who depend on them. Governments have a responsibility, on behalf of the public, to protect our oceans for present and future generations. However, we find that international fisheries governance is strained as governments struggle to find consensus on how to share fish stocks within important scientific limits. If we follow science, experience shows us that we can harness the ocean’s potential to feed and sustain the lives of billions of people while protecting its incredible biodiversity. But we must not wait until it is too late.