Harnessing aquaculture for healthy diets

The importance of fish in providing nutrition security in LMICs is often overlooked, and fish consumption is much lower in many LMICs than in high-income countries (HICs). Despite this, for many poorer countries, the fish sector is an important economic, cultural and nutritional resource.

Fish can represent a key component of healthy diets, given the protein, omega-3 fatty acid, and micronutrient profile it provides, and the diversity of fish available. It is also one of the most traded food commodities by monetary value, at US$165 billion in 2018, and in many ways exemplifies the interconnectedness of today’s global food system.

There is considerable potential for many low- and middle-income countries to capitalise on the opportunities and benefits presented by aquaculture. When managed sustainably, aquaculture can contribute to resilient food systems, and enhance the quality of diets and the health of populations through improved nutrition, while providing a major source of employment and export earnings.

The need for action

Food security and nutrition issues need to be better integrated into policy decisions relating to aquaculture.

Fish and related products produced from aquaculture should be fully incorporated into agriculture and trade policies, updated national food-based dietary guidelines, and considered within nutrition and health policies and strategies.

Governments, their development partners, and private sector entities all have a role to play. The goals should be to increase human capital, skills development, and wider adoption of existing feed-related technologies to countries in the global South.

This policy brief

This brief sets out the contribution that aquaculture can make to healthy diets and resilient food systems. It provides guidance for policymakers as they consider decisions related to the expansion of aquaculture, balancing issues related to diets and food security, economic growth and employment, and the environment.

The recording of the launch webinar is now available on our website here. 

“Finding alternatives to aquaculture feeds based on wild-caught fish needs to be a priority. There are multiple opportunities for entrepreneurs to use alternative feeds and new technology to substantially reduce, and even eliminate, the use of feeds based on wild-catch.”

Dr Shenggen Fan, Chair Professor, China Agricultural University