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How sustainable aquaculture can help meet the growing demand for blue food | World Economic Forum Agenda

Aerial view of fish farms.

This excerpt is from an opinion piece for the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda. Jim Leape is a member of the Blue Food Assessment Core Team. Hugh Welsh is the General Counsel, Secretary and President of DSM North America. Read the full article here.

The world will increasingly rely on aquaculture to meet a growing demand for blue food, which is likely to double by 2050. Like all food systems, aquaculture presents both opportunities and challenges, particularly around health, sustainability and equity. We need to embrace a diversity of blue foods and blue food actors, foster innovation and catalyze cross-sector collaboration in order to achieve truly sustainable aquaculture.

The future is blue. By 2050, the world is likely to eat twice as much blue food – fish, shellfish and algae that are caught or cultivated in fresh or saltwater – than in 2015, according to the recent Blue Food Assessment. As our demand for blue food increases, so do calls for food system transformation to meet this growing need in a way that is both sustainable and just.

With wild stocks fished near capacity, aquaculture will contribute most of the additional fish produced and consumed in the future. Aquaculture is not a silver bullet, however. It presents resource and environmental trade-offs from potential habitat destruction, excess nutrients and pathogens, the use of antibiotics, and a reliance on feed produced from wild-caught fish and agricultural crops. Research indicates progress in recent years and a potential for innovation – between 1997 and 2017, for example, the amount of wild fish used to produce a kilogram of farmed fish declined by 85%. If we want to address these environmental risks and meet rising demand, now is the time.

A sustainable aquaculture future that meets the growing demand for blue food is within reach. To achieve this vision by 2050, however, we must work together to chart a course.

Read the full World Economic Forum Agenda opinion piece >