The Transition in the Contribution of Living Aquatic Resources to Food Security
The world fish supply is becoming increasingly scarce, a transition that cannot be prevented by more intensive fishing but only ameliorated through improved management of fisheries resources, improved aquaculture production, better use of resources, and interventions to improve equity. These tasks will require more thorough research into aquatic resource management than has been attempted in the past; compared with terrestrial resources, we know relatively little about aquatic resources and the systems in which they live. This paper examines the current state of the world's fish and other living aquatic food resources and projects conditions for the future. The report also explores the role research can play in developing sustainable management practices, particularly in developing countries, where the hold on food security is most tenuous. First the report discusses the global situation and outlook in terms of: production; the biological resource base; the geography of production and consumption; economics; supply, demand, and world trade; the people in fisheries and aquaculture; and the environment and climate. The report then examines five issues which must be addressed: use, resource management, intensification, integration with other sectors, and national versus international interests. The report next describes the contribution of living aquatic resources to food security during the transition. Aquatic products are rarely included in food supply calculations and frequently overlooked in food security discussions at the national and global levels. The report then attempts to project what the future of living aquatic resources will be in 2020. Finally, the report attempts to answer the question of how research can contribute: the history of research and strategies for improving its role are outlined. It is suggested that aquatic research be more closely integrated with research into related fields, such as water management systems and agriculture; and that all the functions of research (to provide basic knowledge, identify issues and their implications, resolve conflicts, and find new solutions and options) be exploited to their fullest. Finally, resources for aquatic research should be improved and increased. Includes references.