Seafood in an insecure world

Aquatic Food Security book

A new collection of academic essays explores global food security issues and the role of aquaculture.

Food security has come again to the fore as a policy issue, underlined by events over the last decade – including wars and a global pandemic – and this is the starting point for a collection of essays, edited by two academics from the University of Stirling.

It is a complex issue, however, where the role of the aquatic food supply chain is not well defined, the authors say.

Whilst there are a number of good scientific papers available covering aspects of food security, a single book exploring the issues from production to consumption does not exist.

Filling the gap, Aquatic Food Security explores these issues using global examples to illustrate both strengths and weaknesses within the existing aquatic food supply chain. It covers topics such as the role of intensification in global aquaculture production, the importance of nutrition and selective breeding, diseases and public health considerations, the role of markets and of processing and retail sectors and quality issues in the global seafood market.

This is already an area of vital importance and it will increase in importance as the aquaculture industry grows for the foreseeable future. It is in fact the fastest growing food production sector globally and has started to surpass some sectors of terrestrial animal farming.

The Editors, Dr Margaret Crumlish and Professor Rachel Norman, are qualified experts teaching food security and sustainability at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture. For this publication, they brought together an international team of authors with diverse expertise in various areas of aquaculture and food security.

To define the remit of this book, the authors have adopted the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s definition that food security: “…exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

The chapters each focus on a particular topic or implication regarding aquatic food security, focusing particularly on aquaculture.

Chapter 2, The role of intensification in global aquaculture identifies both the benefits of, and the challenges involved with, intensive aquaculture systems.

Chapter 3, The importance of animal nutrition and selective breeding in aquaculture production explores genetics and nutrition in aquaculture.

The fourth chapter, Aquaculture production now and in the future – an ecosystems perspective introduces the idea of “environmental goods and services” and shows how environmental modelling can be used to encourage good practices in aquaculture.

Chapter 5, Production level diseases and public health considerations in aquaculture looks at health issues in aquaculture and the complex nature of evolving pathogens, which are often see not as individual diseases that can readily be analysed, but as multiple infectious threats.

Global aquatic food production, Chapter 6, takes a broad view of food security and places it in a social, economic and political context.

Chapter 7, The role of markets in global aquatic food security looks at the different forms of distribution for aquaculture products in low to middle-income countries and in high income countries. This theme is further explored in Chapter 8 The role of processing and retail sectors,  which compares and contrasts the different preservation approaches and looks at how novel methods can increase accessibility to seafood.

Chapter 9 focuses on raw seafood practices, risk and public health in south-east Asia, highlighting how cultural factors can affect food choices.

Chapters 10 and 11 focus on aquatic food safety and quality issues.

The final chapter, Horizon scanning for aquatic food security, discusses the uncertainties involved in this sector. It looks not only at the many challenges – such as population growth, climate change and social and political instability – but also at the opportunities that could help mitigate them. These include investing in new production methods such as recirculating aquaculture systems, offshore fish farming and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, as well as information technology and “alt-seafood” where cells are grown independently of a living organism.

The authors conclude: “Hopefully lessons have been learned from the unexpected events of the last few years and we are in a stronger place to develop resilient production and supply chains that will protect food security for everyone with seafood playing a, perhaps the most, significant role.”

Aquatic Food Security is available on Amazon and from at the links below. Price £150.


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