Sustainable Seafood and Health
|What are sustainable levels of |
Seafood is an important food source and is known to have a variety of health benefits. A number of health agencies recommend that people increase their seafood intake to promote good health. To meet these dietary recommendations, we should consider whether they might jeopardize long-term fisheries viability.
Global fish demand has doubled since 1973, and the FAO reports that by 2008 more than 28% of the world’s fish stocks were over-exploited or depleted. Although much growth in demand is met by aquaculture, this produces lower omega-3 fatty acids and has environmental concerns and production constraints. Some have questioned the merits and sustainability of health agencies continuing to promote increased fish consumption to improve community health. However, when the NHMRC reduced emphasis on fish in a recent draft update of Dietary Guidelines for Australians, it drew sharp criticism from health and industry groups.
A further issue of sustainability is the carbon footprint of different fisheries. On average, 1.7 tons of CO2 is emitted for each ton of live weight of fish landed, but this varies between fisheries because of the different fishing methods used (e.g. demersal trawls, gillnetting, longlining, aquaculture). Further, the carbon footprint for fish imported into Australia is greater than locally caught fish.
This debate is at the centre of concerns about community health, resource management, environmental health, greenhouse gas production and food security. A lack of cross-sector analysis contributes to misunderstandings and ineffective policy responses. Implications for food security and health risks for vulnerable groups in Australia are not understood.
The aim of this research project is to determine the most environmentally sustainable means of meeting nutritional demands from fish in Australia, considering the long-term viability and carbon footprint of fisheries. Food security is a global concern, but guidelines on nutritional requirements are frequently divorced from a sound evaluation of environmental sustainability.
This project combines UQ expertise in Food / Nutrition with environmental expertise in fisheries sustainability. This cross-school project is highly multi-disciplinary and addresses several key questions concerning the provision of adequate nutrition from a resource that is threatened by over-exploitation and climate change. Moreover, the project will make specific, clear recommendations on environmentally sustainable levels of fish consumption that meet nutritional demands. The project will also quantify the carbon footprint associated with Australia’s fish food requirements and identify opportunities to reduce these impacts
Researchers: Assoc Prof Geoff Marks, Dr Anthony J. Richardson, Dr John Kirkwood, Prof Peter Mumby
Funding: Global Change Institute Small Grant
Last updated: Aug 21, 2012