Aquaculture for all

Feeding the 5 million

Sustainability Politics +2 more

A new programme that aims to use fisheries and aquaculture to assist 3.5 million people to exit poverty and reduce the number of people suffering from deficiencies in essential micronutrients by 2.4 million has been launched this month.

Called the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agrifood Systems (FISH), it will be led by WorldFish and aims to enhance the contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to reducing poverty and improving food security and nutrition. It is designed to contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and of CGIAR’s overall goals.

Citing the crucial role of fisheries and aquaculture in global strategies to reduce poverty and improve food security and nutrition, and noting the underinvestment in research and development (R&D) on fish, the United Nations (UN) Committee on World Food Security's expert panel specifically calls on CGIAR to lead research that will enhance sustainability, productivity and access to fish by those most in need (HLPE 2014).

WorldFish Director General, Blake Ratner, reflected: “Enhancing the role of fish in global diets is a huge opportunity to affect sustainable change in livelihoods, food and nutrition security. Fish is a highly nutritious food source with great potential for scaled-up and environmentally sensitive production.”

FISH aims to achieve six outcomes by 2022:
• Adoption of improved breeds, aquafeeds, fish health and aquaculture and fisheries management practices by 5.0 m households.
• Assisting 3.5 m people, with at least 50% women, to exit poverty through gender-inclusive livelihood improvements.
• Reducing the number of people suffering from deficiencies in essential micronutrients by 2.4m, with at least 50% of them women.
• Assisting 4.7m more women of reproductive age to consume an adequate number of food groups.
• Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, and increasing water and nutrient use efficiency by 10%, in 4.8m metric tons of annual farmed fish production.
• Restoring 3.3m ha of ecosystems through more productive and equitable management of small-scale fishery resources and rehabilitation of degraded aquaculture ponds.

FISH Interim Program Director and Management Committee Chair, Michael Phillips, added: “Fish is the animal-source food with the fastest-growing production. Sustainable aquaculture practices offer water, energy and feed conversion efficiencies superior to any other domesticated animal food. And, fish is the only animal-source food that can be produced in saltwater, offering unique advantages for climate resilient production.”

FISH will focus on the three interlinked challenges of sustainable aquaculture, small-scale fisheries (SSF), and enhancing the contribution of fish to nutrition and health of the poor in priority geographies of Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Fisheries and aquaculture contribute to livelihoods for 800 million people and provide 3.1 billion people with 20% of their animal protein (FAO 2015), as well as micronutrients and essential fatty acids critical to cognitive and physical development (HLPE 2014). Three-quarters of the countries where fish contributes more than one-third of animal protein in the diet are low-income food-deficit countries (Kawarazuka and Béné 2011), where fish is often the cheapest and most accessible animal-source food (Belton and Thilsted 2014).

To meet future demand for fish, particularly in developing countries, production will need to double by 2030. The scale of this challenge requires research innovations across the whole spectrum of aquaculture and fisheries production systems and associated value chains.

FISH brings together a unique set of multi-stakeholder partnerships to harness emerging science in aquaculture and fisheries to deliver development outcomes at scale. FISH is led by WorldFish, together with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia; the International Water Management Institute; Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich (NRI), England and Wageningen University, Netherlands.