An ever-growing population implies great challenges as FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) draws attention to in the latest version of SOFIA. There it is estimated that the world population will be 9.6 billions in 2050. Already, various cultivation areas have reached their limit of production.
In the editorial of the latest version of SOFIA (The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture), which is the flagship publication of the FAO, José Graziano da Silva, Director of FAO’s puts an emphasis on the importance of finding ways to stop the famine in the world, without compromising food quality or promote over-exploitation of resources. He believes that aquaculture can play a major role in eradicating hunger, promoting good health and reducing poverty.
It is estimated that 800 million people are living below line of hunger and the chances are that this number will increase with increasing population. Many cultivation lands have already reached their limits and therefor it’s important that opportunities within the fisheries and aquaculture will be explored. Fish consumption has increased significantly worldwide in recent years, fish has been a particularly important source of protein and nutrients in the poorer countries of the world.
Increasing aqua farming over the recent years has increased employment in many areas that have suffered from poverty and unemployment, this has been very important development in many third world countries where fish is the most important export. In Iceland, increasing aquaculture has already had positive effects on rural development in areas that have been facing population decline for years.
In the editorial, da Silva emphasizes the important of preservation of natural resources even though we now face the need of increasing food production. The health and feed of humans are dependent on the health of the earth. Therefor sustainable fishing and aqua farming should be strengthened and blue growth should be promoted.
“Blue Growth focuses on capture fisheries, aquaculture, ecosystem services, trade and social protection. In line with FAO’s Reviewed Strategic Framework, the initiative focuses on promoting the sustainable use and conservation of aquatic renewable resources in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner. It aims at reconciling and balancing priorities between growth and conservation, and between industrial and artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, ensuring equitable benefits for communities. To reach these goals, the Blue Growth initiative taps into technical expertise throughout the Organization.”
Icelanders spot opportunities in aquaculture
Aquaculture has been the most growing sector in food production in recent years. Fish produced in aquaculture is already about half of the fish consumed in the world and it is estimated that the share of aquaculture will reach 62% in 2030.
Aquaculture is a growing industry in Iceland, even though further research and development is needed to strengthen aquaculture in Iceland as Arnljótur Bjarki Bergsson, director at Matís points out. He notes that the Icelanders fish about 1-2% of all the fish caught in the world but farm only 0.01% of the total fish production.
“Iceland has clearly opportunities to increase its aquaculture, but it’s equally important to find ways to maximize the profitability of aquaculture, for example by developing cheaper feed without compromising the quality of the raw material.”
“Our profits should rather be from quality than quantity, and our aims should be high value markets that appreciate sustainability, traceability and food safety. The Icelandic bioeconomy is very delicate and all caution must be exercised so it won’t get spoiled.”
Arnljótur says that aquaculture in the Westfjords could produce as much or even more fish in near future than the total amount of fish caught in the area today if the right chooses are made. Iceland could become a major player in the fight against famine, not just as a food manufacturer but also through research and innovation.
For additional information please contact Arnljótur Bjarki Bergsson at Matís.