Can Oceans Help Meet the Century's Looming Food Security Challenges?

Saturday, February 16, 2013: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 302 (Hynes Convention Center)
As we move toward a world with 9 billion people, an elusive question remains: how will we feed this growing population? With increasing prosperity raising demand for animal protein, climate change altering the productivity of agricultural lands, and the availability of water changing rapidly, the future of food looks bleak. But new research shows that, unlike land-based sources of food, the world’s fisheries hold the potential to increase the amount of protein we put on peoples’ plates without sacrificing the ecosystems on which we ultimately rely. New fisheries models accurately estimate the abundance of thousands of fisheries around the world that were previously unassessed. Because most of these smaller stocks are in bad shape, fixing their management could provide more food while simultaneously providing environmental benefits. The largest potential gains occur in parts of the world where the growth in demand is projected to be most acute. Similarly, when we compare the future of ocean aquaculture to that of land-based food production, we see different paths to expansion. A minute fraction of the ocean is currently farmed and, by many standards (e.g., habitat conversion, nutrient loadings, greenhouse gas emissions), ocean aquaculture can produce food at lower costs than expanded production on land. This session will explore new research in fisheries and aquaculture that changes the way we think about addressing the challenges of long-term food security.
Steven Gaines, University of California