United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Food from the Oceans
I. Ladies and gentlemen, in the decades following the end of the Second World
War supplies of food from the ocean grew enormously.
2. By the late 1980s capture fish landings had stagnated and the majority of fish
stocks were recognised as over-fished.
3. At that time aquaculture provided less than 10% of fish for human
consumption: today , we consume more farmed than wild fish. - .
4. Fisheries and aquaculture is a trillion dollar sector, employing some 57
million men and women and supporting the livelihoods of around 800
million people .
5. 170 million tonnes of fish and other aquatic foods were produced in 2015 .
6. Over the past 50 years, global per capita consumption of fish has more than
doubled, from 9 to 20 kg per year, despite a doubling in world population at
the same time.
7. Foods from our oceans are highly diverse and include seaweeds, mussels,
clams and oysters, sea urchins and sea cucumbers, shrimp and lobsters, fish,
and frogs and reptiles.
8. Fish is a nutrient dense food, rich in high quality proteins, long chain omega3
fats and micronutrients.
a. The long chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for optimal
cognitive development in children and for the protection against
coronary heart diseases.
b. Micronutrients such as iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, selenium and
vitamin A can be obtained from fish, especially when eaten whole,
as with sardines and anchovies.
9. Of the 30 countries most dependent on fish as a protein source, all but four
are in the developing world .
10. In many of the least developed countries, fish accounts for more than half of
the total animal protein intake.
11 . Food security and nutrition has risen to the top of the global political agenda
as encapsulated in Goal 2 of the globa l Sustainable Development Goals , to
"end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote
sustainable agriculture".
12. At the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition, held at FAO in Rome in
2014, fish was recognized as having ..... a special role ill nutrition and
health" .
13. But, ladies and gentlemen, how best to assure future supplies of food from
the ocean?
14. Growth in supplies of aquatie foods has been reducing due to slow-downs in
the growth of aquaculture.
15. This is because of increasing competition for land, water and other
ecosystem services, saturation of markets, and concerns abou t the impacts of
aquaculture .
16. However, in the coming decades it is from aquaculture that much of the
future increases in fish supplies needed to meet growing dema nd must come.
17. FAO's Blu e Growth Initi ative sets out to help countries maximise the
potential of fisheries and aquaculture to meet thei r environmental, social and
economic goals .
18. At the core of the Blu e Growth Ini tiati ve is healthy oceans, without which
we cannot derive sustainable benefits.
19. There are many concerns about our oceans, including the effects of climate
change and pollution.
20. In securing future food supplies from our oceans fisheries and aqua culture
must change.
2 1. We must reduce fishing pressure on the 30% of stocks that are overfished
and, as disc ussed at XXXXXXXXX in Norway last week, eliminate IUU.
22. Aquaculture must produce more with less and
a. improve biosecurity to stop the spread of fish diseases
b. develop and implement envi ronmentally friendl y disease
... .' '!
c. prevent fish escaping from farms,
d. reduce the release of untreated aquaculture wastes
23. Aquaculture must also focus on maximising the nutrient value of farmed
aquatic products, while at the same time reducing dependence on scarce feed
ingredients such as fishmeal and fish oil.
24. And we can make more of what we take from the oceans.
25.Much fish is wasted along the value chain.
26.Nutrients and micronutrients discarded in processing wastes can be
recovered and used for both human and animal consumption.
27. Fish, however, remains on the margins ofglobal discussions on food
security and nutrition.
28. To this end, FAO has recently established a working group on fish, food
security and nutrition that is working across the organisation and with
partners outside to mainstream fish into improving food security and
nutrition outcomes.
29. Ladies and gentlemen, we must continue to work together to secure future
supplies of food from the ocean and to ensure that those who need it most
have access.
[680 words, excluding title, key messagesand numbers].
Key messages
o Food from the ocean - which, in the present context, includes freshwater - comes from capture
fisheries and aquaculture. In the four decades following the end of the Second World War,
supplies grew tremendously, the result of massive investments in fishing fleets and technologies
that helped us more effectively find, catch and preserve fishes caught at sea.
o However, by the late 1980s it had become apparent that the huge amounts of fish being taken
from our oceans was too much: fish landings had stagnated and the majority of fish stocks were
found to be over-fished.
o Fish is a nutrient dense food, high in quality proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids and
micronutrients. Despite this, it is only very recently that fish has been recognised as important,
especially in the diets of the poor.
o The role of food from the oceans in food security and nutrition needs to be better understood
and mainstreamed into policy dialogue. To this end, FAO has begun to work across departments
and with colleagues in the CGIAR and elsewhere to ensure it can contribute ....
o Future supplies of food from the ocean are under myriad threats, not least from climate change
and pollution and we must continue to tackle
o But fishing and aquaculture must change too. We need to stop over-fishing and rebuild stocks
and eliminate IUU fishing. In aquaculture, we need to develop a global system of biosecurity to
stop the spread of disease, improve disease treatment methods, minimise escapes of wild fish
from aquaculture farms and the release of fish farm wastes into the environment.