Seafood industry is cash poor relation – Fishupdate.com

Seafood industry is cash poor relation Published:  10 November, 2006

Dr Michael Crawford

CLAIMS that the seafood sector is increasingly a poor relation when it comes to cash aid are set to be highlighted at a major Edinburgh conference.

Demands for a change in funding policy, partly to help boost the sector’s key health message, will be made when the disparity between cash aid for the seafood industry, compared with other food production sectors, comes under the spotlight at Aquaculture Today 2007.

And a leading scientist, who will deliver the keynote speech at the event, said today that the message must be to urgently conserve and build wild stocks, manage the oceans and farm sea foods more extensively, in order to maintain not just good health, but also our brains.

Dr Michael Crawford of London’s Metropolitan University is a leading expert in brain chemistry and human nutrition, specialising in work on dietary fats and the health benefits of Essential Fatty Acids to humans. He is passionately outspoken about what he calls the “appalling” disparity between cash aid for the seafood industry compared with, for example, beef farming.

“We spend billions on trips to Mars,” Dr Crawford said. “Mars will not feed us in the foreseeable future. We should be spending that sort of money on the oceans, which cover more than two thirds of the planet’s surface.

“There needs to be a complete re-design of the strategy for food and health, as well as the security and cleanliness of the fresh water, estuaries and coastal resources,” Dr Crawford continued.

“We are polluting the rivers and hence are killing the estuaries where the marine food chain should take off in earnest. Unless they are restored, all you can expect is loss of fish stocks.”

Many in the seafood industry feel that greater spend on seafood research is required to help maintain what is essentially a vital food industry. Along with improved health education of consumers, industry insiders believe that a new approach to policy is urgently needed.

The health benefits of seafood are widely accepted and fish and shellfish are increasingly considered healthier options to red meat and gluten-rich wheat products.

Furthermore, it is predicted that fish farming holds the key to meeting the increased global demand for protein.

According to recent figures published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, nearly half the fish consumed as food worldwide are raised on fish farms rather than caught in the wild. In order to scale up to meet increased future demand, the industry must continue to evolve and develop. Yet, at present, the seafood sector is a poor relation compared to other industries. There are disproportionately high subsidies available to terrestrial farmers, in comparison with the support received by fish farmers.

Dr Crawford will make the keynote address at Aquaculture Today 2007, which will be held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh from 17-19 April. The conference will focus on how well managed modern fish farming is tackling the issue of sustainability and will also highlight the range of new farmed species that are set to reach supermarket shelves in the near future.

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