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New report: Six times more food from the ocean

Fiskearter fra Barentshavet

The Blue Paper estimates that the ocean can provide 364 million tonnes more animal protein from aquaculture and fisheries in the future – provided necessary changes are made in the fields of management and technology development.

The ocean can supply much of the food required to feed an ever growing world population, primarily through the sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture. But not without improved ocean management and new technology.

Tuesday saw the arrival of «The Future of Food from the Sea» – the first in a planned series of 16 Blue Papers commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. 

The paper concludes that better management and technological innovation can enable a sixfold increase in the supply of food from the ocean compared to current levels. This makes up more than two thirds of the animal protein needed to feed a growing world population. 

Advice on potential and limits

"This is an important report, which is based on sound knowledge – and brings it further to look at the potential of the ocean and what the challenges are," says research director Geir Huse at the Institute of Marine Research (IMR).

IMR is not on the list of authors, but were represented at the launch event in Rome by research director Peter Haugan, one of the chairs of the High Level Panel Expert Group. The only Norwegian author on this first Blue Paper is Linda Nøstbakken from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

The Norwegian model of management

The orthodox view has been that the wild fisheries have reached the limit of their potential. The Blue Paper argues to the contrary that – provided necessary changes are made – capture fisheries could produce as much as 20 % more catch compared to today, under current fishing pressures. Yet the largest potential gains for food production lie in marine aquaculture (mariculture). Here too, however, change is needed – especially as regards feed and environmental effects. 

"Norway has invested a lot in ocean management, and we profit from that through the sustainable extraction of resources. Our system of management is based on research and knowledge, in addition to business regulations and control. This model can definitely provide solutions to some of the challenges pointed to in the Blue Paper," says Geir Huse.

Read more and download the report on the High Level Panel's website.