Aquaculture North America

Study: 90% of global seafood production at risk from environmental change

By Matt Jones   

News Research climate change University of California

A new study by researchers at the University of California shows that more than 90 per cent of global “blue food” production, including capture fisheries and aquaculture, face substantial risk from environmental changes, such as sea-level changes and ocean temperature changes.

“There are other stressors, for example, especially food safety-related,” said Ling Cao, one of the authors of the study, “Vulnerability of blue foods to human-induced environmental change.”

“Mercury, heavy metal related stressors and also eutrophication from agriculture and other industrial applications. There are lots of stressors but for this study, we didn’t consider which stressor had the biggest impact.”

Cao said that aquaculture companies play a vital role in adapting to these vulnerabilities to ensure resilient and sustainable seafood production in the future. As such, she has several recommendations for aquaculture companies based on their findings.

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First, aquaculture companies should enhance monitoring and surveillance to better assess environmental conditions and to better predict the risks of disease outbreaks or pollutant levels in production areas. The second would be diversification – companies should diversify the species they work with and also their production systems – to reduce the vulnerability of the systems so that if the system is impacted by a stressor it doesn’t wipe out all of your fish.

“Third, companies in the future should invest in more climate resilient infrastructure, especially talking about open sea offshore aquaculture,” said Cao. “Another recommendation would be thinking about implementing best aquaculture practices, for example, proper waste management, wastewater management, and responsible use of antibiotics.”

Finally, she recommends that aquaculture companies collaborate with key stakeholders. Blue food producers should form partnerships with local communities, governments, and other companies. Collective action will be very important to enhance response capacities and to promote more effective adaption strategies.


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