A guest blog by Richard Waite of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Michael Phillips of WorldFish, and Randall Brummett of the World Bank. The world’s appetite for fish is steadily growing. Finfish and shellfish currently make up one-sixth of the animal protein people consume globally. As the global wild fish catch peaked in the 1990s, aquaculture—or fish farming—has grown rapidly to meet world fish demand, more than doubling production between 2000 and 2012.
The recent World Bank report on future supply and demand for fish deserves attention and applause. It represents a laudable effort to explore how the economics of fish supply and fish demand interact and how increasing incomes and population growth will drive change. While the authors are rightly cautious about over-interpreting their findings, their results provide some arresting glimpses of what the future might hold.
It’s easy to forget just how environmentally friendly wild capture fisheries are as a means for providing food. Jessica Gephart and her colleagues remind us. At WorldFish, we spend a lot of time thinking about how improving fisheries and aquaculture can reduce poverty and hunger. We focus our research on how fishing and aquaculture can increase incomes and improve rural economies and how we can increase the affordability and availability of fish to improve health and nutrition among vulnerable populations. Less often do we think about how fishing and aquaculture can save scarce resources.