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Food from oceans can help satisfy global demand

7 December 2017


An expert group co-ordinated by Cardiff University say increased food production from the oceans can help satisfy the global demand for food and release the pressure on agriculture.

The University-based hub of Academia Europaea, a European academy which promotes excellence in scholarship, led an investigation for the European Commission into how more food could be sustainably obtained from the oceans.

The report, which will inform policymaking, said ‘business as usual’ was not sustainable from a social, economic and environmental viewpoint but a different approach could improve food security.

Food from the Oceans has now been handed to the European Commission in the presence of two Commissioners, Karmenu Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and Carlos Moedas (Research, Science and Innovation).

“The environmental footprint and costs associated with today’s food production methods and other food system activities are considerable,” said the report.

It added that the only way to obtain significantly more food and biomass sustainably was to harvest seafood that was, on average, lower in the food chain.

“The oceans are home to a large number of resources that are either not exploited or are marginally exploited currently and which could improve food security and the wellbeing of humanity,” said the study.

“Increased food production from the ocean could release some of the pressure that has been put on agriculture, as well as supporting a range of livelihoods and activities associated with the fishing and mariculture industries.”

The authors – an international and interdisciplinary expert group - said it was necessary to find new ways to feed a fast-growing global population, anticipated to grow from 7.3bn people in 2015 to 9.8bn by 2050,according to the United Nations.

Professor Ole Petersen FRS, Academic Director of the Cardiff hub and Vice-President of Academia Europaea, and Louise Edwards, hub manager, played key roles in the study alongside Cardiff University colleagues.

The Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) was tasked with producing the report, with management and delivery handled by Academia Europaea’s Cardiff University hub, which plays a key role in providing quality advice for policymaking in Europe.

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