ROME – A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has revealed that the expansion of aquaculture and the use of new technologies in this sector could strengthen the world’s food security.
Xinhua Yuan, deputy director of aquaculture at FAO, said that “fish and other aquatic products can play an important role in restoring the global food system by meeting the food needs of the poorest.”
World fisheries and aquaculture production set a historic record of 214 million tonnes (178 million tonnes of aquatic animals and 36 million tonnes of algae) in 2020, mainly due to the development of aquaculture, especially in Asia.
According to the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society (JWAS) study released by FAO, aquaculture production will reach 126 million tonnes by 2021.
Yuan said, “Aquaculture is currently supplying nearly 50% of aquatic food, and given its potential to contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we all need to focus on how be strengthened.”
FAO argues that new technologies can increase productivity and reduce waste, as well as improve the inclusion of small-scale operators in the sector, and should be implemented in areas where aquaculture production needs to be increased. has the greatest potential.
Over 90% of world aquaculture production is concentrated in Asia, while Africa, the Americas and Europe add up to barely 8.2%, and the FAO highlights that this represents a valuable opportunity for small island developing states. Is.
The fact is that aquaculture practices produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions on average than other forms of animal production.
About 700 species are currently cultivated around the world, but about half of the world’s production comes from only 12.
Unlike terrestrial agriculture, selective breeding programs are little used to develop more efficient types of aquatic species, currently accounting for only about 15% of production.
Twas experts point out that improvements in feed have allowed the use of marine-origin ingredients to be reduced in the breeding and cultivation of the species, but this can still be reduced further.
They indicate that biosecurity should be strengthened and better disease warning systems adopted – in breeding pools and marine parks – and standards that reduce the risk of the spread of aquatic epidemic diseases. Partly the development of aquaculture has come at the cost of the environment.
Digital and electronic technologies can be used to improve certification protocols, such as traceability systems and electronic commerce, as well as to expand market access.
They recommend implementing mechanisms to redistribute costs and benefits more equitably between producers and retailers, as well as accountability for sustainability certification and adherence to decent work standards.
It is recognized that although they play an essential role in fisheries and aquaculture, women make up a disproportionately large percentage of people working in the informal sectors, which are among the lowest paid, least stable and least skilled workforces.
For all these reasons, it is essential for countries to formulate and implement specific legislation to develop this sector in an equitable and sustainable manner.
The importance of this sector is underlined by the fact that in 2020 the amount of aquatic products destined for human consumption was 20.2 kg per capita, more than doubling from 9.9 kg per capita in 1960.
Some 58.5 million people work in the primary sector, and when secondary and subsistence sector workers, and their dependents, are included, it is estimated that the livelihoods of some 600 million people are, at least partially, dependent on Depend on fishing and aquaculture.
Yuan stressed that FAO “wants further intensification and expansion of aquaculture in a sustainable manner, to meet the global demand for aquaculture food and distribute the benefits equitably, social responsibility, pollution and other Ideas can be heeded”.