Aquaculture, the relatively young but fast-growing industry of farming of fish and other marine life, now produces around half of all seafood consumed by humans.
A new paper from American University examines the economics of an aquaculture industry of the future that is simultaneously environmentally sustainable and nutritious for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who depend on it for health and livelihoods. Of the scenarios the paper discusses, included are two approaches that illustrate what aquaculture might look like if nations refocus inward for food and nutrition security in the COVID-19 era.
“Seafood is essential to meeting global food and nutrition security goals,” said Jessica Gephart, the paper’s primary author and an assistant professor of environmental science at American University. “Under what circumstances, and with what policies, can we maximize aquaculture for its nutrition benefits and sustainability for all who rely on seafood?”
This is a challenging question to answer, especially in the COVID-19 era. As the pandemic is still unfolding, the full scope of long-term damage to food systems is unknown, the paper notes. Yet, the aquaculture industry is suffering major setbacks, as some exports are being halted, workers are being laid off, demand has dramatically decreased, production units are incurring large losses and some countries are reconsidering their reliance on foreign seafood.
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