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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Sep 16;111(37):13257-63. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404067111. Epub 2014 Aug 18.

Does aquaculture add resilience to the global food system?

Author information

1
Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden; max@beijer.kva.se.
2
Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
3
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden;
4
The Worldfish Center, Penang, Malaysia;
5
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 3J5;
6
Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden;
7
Economics Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
8
Earth Institute and School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027;
9
Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden;
10
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
11
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden;
12
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544;
13
Department of Economics, University of Oslo, Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway;
14
Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108;
15
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, 6700 DD, Wageningen, The Netherlands;
16
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia;
17
Department of International and European Economic Studies, Athens University of Economics and Business, GR10434 Athens, Greece; and.
18
Center for Economic Research and Tilburg Sustainability Center, Tilburg University, 5000 LE, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector and continues to expand alongside terrestrial crop and livestock production. Using portfolio theory as a conceptual framework, we explore how current interconnections between the aquaculture, crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors act as an impediment to, or an opportunity for, enhanced resilience in the global food system given increased resource scarcity and climate change. Aquaculture can potentially enhance resilience through improved resource use efficiencies and increased diversification of farmed species, locales of production, and feeding strategies. However, aquaculture's reliance on terrestrial crops and wild fish for feeds, its dependence on freshwater and land for culture sites, and its broad array of environmental impacts diminishes its ability to add resilience. Feeds for livestock and farmed fish that are fed rely largely on the same crops, although the fraction destined for aquaculture is presently small (∼4%). As demand for high-value fed aquaculture products grows, competition for these crops will also rise, as will the demand for wild fish as feed inputs. Many of these crops and forage fish are also consumed directly by humans and provide essential nutrition for low-income households. Their rising use in aquafeeds has the potential to increase price levels and volatility, worsening food insecurity among the most vulnerable populations. Although the diversification of global food production systems that includes aquaculture offers promise for enhanced resilience, such promise will not be realized if government policies fail to provide adequate incentives for resource efficiency, equity, and environmental protection.

KEYWORDS:

crop resources; diversity; food portfolio management; global change; shocks

PMID:
25136111
PMCID:
PMC4169979
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1404067111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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