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Marine Systems, Food Security, and Future Earth

Fulton, EA, Plaganyi, E, Cheung, W, Blanchard, J ORCID: 0000-0003-0532-4824 and Watson, R ORCID: 0000-0001-7201-8865 2018 , 'Marine Systems, Food Security, and Future Earth', in T Beer and J Li and K Alverson (eds.), Global Change and Future Earth: The Geoscience Perspective , Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, pp. 296-310.

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Abstract

Seafood, wild caught and farmed, has been a staple ofhuman diets for millennia. Dietary (isotope) and archaeologicalevidence indicates fish were a significant partof the diet of people in Africa and Eurasia in the Mid-Palaeolithic (Hu et al., 2009), with the earliest SouthAfrican middens more than 150,000 years old. Tunasand other such pelagic fish have been exploited for atleast forty-two thousand years (O’Connor et al., 2011)and fish hooks carved from Trochus shell have beenfound from Timor to Okinawa, indicating the widespreaduse of such fishing gear by 23000 BP (Fujitaet al., 2016). Written evidence of the importance ofseafood to humanity dates to 4000 BC in Egypt (Chimits,1957), with examples of texts on fishing methodsand management found in all major ancient humancultures (Radcliffe, 1921; Costa-Pierce 2002). This loveof seafood has not dwindled through time and today thetotal annual global fish production stands at more than167 million tonnes of fish, with 146.3 million tonnes forhuman consumption and more than half of that fromaquaculture (FAO, 2016). It is a major source of dietaryprotein, with more than 3 billion people dependentupon it. Fish has been the major source of animalprotein for human consumption since 1960 and thisper capita consumption is growing globally, trebling inthe last fifty years (Béné et al., 2015). The affluentindustrialised nations now consume at least 26.8 kgper capita annually; consumption is slightly lower indeveloping nations (at 20 kg per capita annually) andeven the citizens of the poorest and food-deficit nationshave doubled their consumption of seafood over the lastthirty years, now consuming 7.6 kg per capita annually(FAO, 2016). This growth in consumption hasoutpaced that of all other livestock sectors (includingchicken, pork and beef ) (Béné et al., 2015). Challengesto land-based production such as shortages of water forirrigation (Elliot et al., 2014), global warming and lossof fertile soils (Rosenzweig et al., 2014) will all potentiallyincrease the role of seafood in food security.The dependence of humanity on seafood goes farbeyond simple protein consumption. Fish have a reputationas a source of long-chain n-3 (or omega-3) polyunsaturatedfatty acids, but they are also a crucial sourceof readily accessible (bioavailable) micronutrients – suchas selenium, zinc, iron, calcium, iodine and vitamins A,B and D (FAO, 2016; Golden et al., 2016). A reductionin the availability of seafood could see 19% of the globalpopulation at risk of increased perinatal, child andmaternal mortality; growth and cognitive retardation;reduced immune function and other conditions associatedwith malnutrition (Golden et al., 2016). Many ofthese countries are situated in equatorial South EastAsia, Africa and Latin America. There is little capacityto look to other food sources in these countries, aspoverty means they have a limited capacity to switchto alternative dietary sources. A livelihood feedbackeffect entrenches this dependence as the same countriesalso have a heavy reliance on fisheries as sources ofemployment and are economically sensitive to shifts inseafood production (Allison et al., 2009).

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Fulton, EA and Plaganyi, E and Cheung, W and Blanchard, J and Watson, R
Keywords: food security, global fisheries, marine ecosystems
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
DOI / ID Number: 10.1017/9781316761489.029
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Cambridge University Press

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