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The future of fisheries

Here, Dr Mark van der Giezen talks about the increase of global fish consumption and the challenges global fisheries and aquacultures face.
Hello, my name is Mark van der Giezen. I’m an associate professor of evolutionary biochemistry. When people think about fisheries, they normally think about capture of wild fish. That was traditionally the case, but for the last 40 years or so aquaculture has been steadily increasing. The average person consumes about 20 kilos of fish each year, a number that has steadily been growing from about 5 kilos per person per year in the 1960s. Interestingly, the growth of supply of fish for human consumption over the last 50 years has been faster than the growth of the human population itself. This growth in the consumption of fish has had beneficial effects on human health.
Fish is a rich source of high quality proteins, providing all essential amino acids. It also provides essential fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and is a good source of vitamin A, B and D, and several minerals. Wild fisheries produced over 90 million tons of fish in 2014, mainly from the sea. At the same time, aquaculture produced over 70 million tons of animals, and it’s thought that aquaculture has now overtaken caught fisheries globally. Although the bulk of aquaculture production is fish, mollusks and crustaceans are also important. Interestingly, the growth of seaweed is becoming more popular, and currently seaweed is being grown in over 50 countries.
The majority, nearly 90%, of animals produced in agriculture is destined for human consumption, with the remainder used as feed within the industry. The growth in agriculture is a welcome development, which helps to address the issues of overfishing of wild populations, which has led to the depletion of many important commercial stocks. Aquaculture also provides an alternative protein source to meat, which is increasingly seen as unsustainable. However, it is important that we do not make the same mistakes in aquaculture farming as we have made in livestock farming. Disease is one of the main threats to aquaculture. It results from the overly high stocking densities in fish farms, as well as poor management of disease and invasive species.
In some cases, this has led to high mortalities of farmed fish populations. If you want to develop a robust and sustainable aquaculture sector, with a meaningful role in providing safe food for the growing world population, then we need to learn from our mistakes and put animal welfare and the environment before profits and gains.

Here, Dr Mark van der Giezen talks about the increase of global fish consumption and the challenges global fisheries and aquacultures face.

This is followed by another video in which Dr Jamie Stevens discusses how studying fish genetics can be used to monitor threatened and over-exploited fish species.

These videos will be useful for the activity which follows, when you will be asked to put your new understanding of fish sustainability into practice.

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Future Food: Sustainable Food Systems for the 21st Century

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