Aquaculture should not be evaluated in isolation from other food production systems. With a human population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, science needs to consider the real measures and trade-offs that exist around what we consume and how we produce and capture food - particularly regarding animal protein. Food production will always impact the planet at some level. The key is assessing how different decisions and actions at both the ecosystem and farm scale impact people and nature.
Understanding Food’s Environmental Footprint Understanding the location and magnitude of food production is key to addressing this challenge because pressures vary substantially across food production types. Applying data and models from life cycle assessment with the methodologies for mapping cumulative environmental impacts of human activities provides a powerful approach to spatially map the cumulative environmental pressure of food production in a way that is consistent and comprehensive across food types.This spatial approach enables quantification of current and potential future environmental pressures, which is needed for decision makers to create more sustainable food policies and practices.
Scenarios for Global Aquaculture and Its Role in Human Nutrition How aquaculture develops will influence human wellbeing and environmental health outcomes. Recognition of this has spurred a push for nutrition-sensitive aquaculture, which aims to benefit public health through the production of diverse, nutrient-rich seafood and enabling equitable access. In order for aquaculture to meet growing seafood demand, the macro policies, especially the degree of globalization and the economic growth strategy, will shape the form of aquaculture that takes hold. We researched four scenarios all of which hold the potential for contributing to nutrition-sensitive aquaculture, yet each requires some degree of public policy commitment. It appears more likely that such commitments will be made and maintained into the future if countries orient their policies toward sustainability than if they prioritize growth, though growth in production could lower prices and make fish more available to all.
Cell-based Seafood Recent advances in the field of cellular agriculture – the process of producing meat from cell- and tissue-cultures – have demonstrated the large environmental benefits that could be generated if a portion of industrially farmed and processed meat is replaced by cultured meat substitutes. However, for the newly emerging cell-based seafood industry, the question remains what the ecological and economic impacts of this industry will be on wild-caught and aquaculture products, and if cell-based seafood will provide conservation benefits. We examined historical food disadoptions and the relationship between the uptake of aquaculture and decline in fisheries in order to better understand if, and what, conservation benefits may lay ahead for the developing industry. For more information see our cell-based seafood website.