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Eating our way to healthy oceans

Join Dr. Libby Swanepoel as she discusses advancements in aquaculture, and how new techniques have increased environmental benefits.
In this section you will learn about an underwater food that is healthy for us and healthy for our oceans - seaweed. Hi, I’m Dr. Libby Swanepoel. I’m a dietitian and food systems scientist from the seaweed research group at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Did you know that every night 820 million people go to bed hungry? By the year 2050, there will be 10 billion people living on Earth. How are we going to feed everybody? To do this, the UN estimates that we need to increase our food production by 70%. However, feeding a growing population places huge pressure on our food system. As the growing, processing and distribution of food contributes enormously to greenhouse gas emissions.
A sustainable food system delivers food security and nutrition for all people. Whilst considering changing eating patterns, globalisation, climate change, and the depletion of natural resources. Turning to oceans is a solution to feed the growing population nutrient dense foods without the environmental impacts that terrestrial farming can have. This is where seaweed offers a really exciting solution. Seaweed is a no feed crop. This means that it grows with just sunlight and the nutrients already in the sea water. There’s no need for freshwater, no deforestation, and no fertiliser. And on top of this growing seaweed sucks carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, improves sea water quality and creates habitats for other species.
Another great thing about seaweed as a human food is the vast diversity of flavours and nutrient profiles. There are more than 10,000 species of seaweeds, reds and greens and browns. And with each species comes a unique nutrient breakdown. Many are high in healthy nutrients such as antioxidants, essential amino acids, fibre and minerals such as iodine for which deficiencies are common. Researchers have established links between eating seaweed and heart health and longevity. This diversity helps to meet the complex dietary needs that our bodies have, so that we can grow and function at our best. In many countries across the Indo Pacific region, seaweed has traditionally been consumed for centuries.
Seaweed features in a variety of ways, soups, chips, condiments and salads, as well as jellies, jams, ice creams and candies. In the remote coral atoll nation of Kiribati, families are at the forefront of climate change and have a very limited supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. Here, women are learning how to harvest and process seaweed into new recipes to feed their families. Around 80% of seaweed work around the world is done by women. Getting involved in the seaweed food chain offers Women and Families opportunities to build social connections, generate an income and source a sustainable, nutritious food. Adding seaweed into our meals makes them tastier, healthier, and more versatile.
Seaweed has so much potential to address malnutrition, to lower the environmental footprint of the food system and to provide livelihoods, all making for happier people and a healthier planet.

Aquaculture now provides more than half of the world’s fish, but what else can we farm below water that is healthy for us and healthy for the sea?

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Life Below Water: Conservation, Current Issues, Possible Solutions

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