Farmed fish has a vital role to play in feeding a growing global population without harming the planet – so long as it’s done responsibly
The world’s population has quadrupled in the last 100 years, and will reach an estimated 10.9 billion people by the end of the century, according to the UN. So the big question is: how are we going to feed so many people?
An added complication is the negative impact we humans can have on the environment and on climate change. Much of this is caused by our methods of food production.
So a better question might be: how are we going to feed so many people while reducing our impact on the environment to a sustainable level and protecting the earth for future generations?
The role of responsible aquaculture
These questions are complex, and we will need to do many things to reduce our impact on the environment while still sustaining a larger global population and reducing overfishing. But responsible fish farming (aquaculture) has an important role to play because it can relieve the pressures on wild fish stocks while also providing a healthy, affordable source of protein to help feed the world. Most seafood production also has a lower carbon footprint than land-based meat production, and for obvious reasons it also tends to use less land.
Aquaculture goes back several thousand years, but it’s only really taken off as an industry in the last few years, partly because of technological advances and partly in response to the increasing pressures that are being put on the world’s wild fish stocks.
Some 33% of wild fish stocks have already reached their biological limit because of destructive fishing practices and overfishing. What this means is that wild fish stocks don’t have time to replenish before they are fished again.
Aquaculture already provides over half of the world’s seafood protein – and the percentage is growing every year. It also has the potential to provide much of the additional protein that the world will need to feed its ever-growing population. This is already an important issue for the developing world: according to the UN, seafood provides half of the animal protein eaten in many developing countries, particularly small islands.
Doing aquaculture right: the role of the ASC
So far, so good. But as with all food production, farming seafood does have environmental and social impacts. This might be from water use, pollution, or overreliance of chemicals and medication. So if aquaculture is going to be one of the solutions to the world’s growing demand for food, it must also be done responsibly. And that’s where ASC comes in.
We love seafood here at the ASC, and we’re to help the industry to play its crucial part in feeding a growing global population while still respecting the planet and its people, and guarding against climate change. We set standards and oversee an independent certification process that ensure that any seafood products you buy and eat have been produced responsibly, without harming local communities, workers or the environment.
Do your bit: Look for the logo!
If, like us, you love seafood and want to ensure that responsibly farmed products play their crucial role in feeding the world’s growing population, all you have to do is look out for the ASC logo when you shop and eat out. And if it’s not there – ask why not!