Aquatic food production is more efficient, has less impact on the environment, and emits lower greenhouse gas emissions than most land-based animal protein production systems, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a statement read on his behalf.
The plenary statement at the UN Ocean Conference here said achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Life Below Water is essential not only for the ocean but also to reduce poverty and eradicate hunger.
“While the world faces daunting challenges, there is a great opportunity in the fisheries and aquaculture sector,” the FAO Director-General said in the statement, adding: “Sustainable and inclusive aquatic food systems improve rights, incomes, and livelihoods of fishing and fish farming communities.”
Aquatic foods offer highly accessible and affordable sources of animal proteins and micronutrients, playing a vital role in the food and nutrition security of many people across the world, particularly vulnerable coastal populations.
But the FAO Director-General underlined that without urgent action to conserve, protect, restore, and sustainably manage marine ecosystems, the ocean will not be able to maintain its significant role in providing food security and economic prosperity.
FAO’s Blue Transformation program offers high-impact solutions to meet the twin challenges of food security and environmental sustainability. It sets out to achieve sustainable aquaculture intensification and expansion; effective management of all fisheries; and upgraded value chains that ensure the social, economic, and environmental viability of aquatic food systems.
With global fisheries and aquaculture production at a record high, aquaculture accounts for half the aquatic foods the world eats and offers great potential to feed the growing population, Qu said in his statement, which came a day after the launch of FAO’s flagship State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report SOFIA 2022.
Expanding aquaculture production will support millions of livelihoods, including women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.
FAO has consistently stressed that Blue Transformation requires commitment from governments, the private sector, academia, civil society, and all stakeholders. Proactive public and private partnerships are needed to improve production, reduce food loss and waste and enhance equitable access to lucrative markets. It is critical that aquatic foods be included in national food security and nutrition strategies with enabling policies on investment and innovation.