In November 2012, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to conduct a study on The Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for food security and nutrition. Taking into account the results of the scoping consultation, the HLPE intends to assess the importance and relevance of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and nutrition as well as the current challenges faced by Fisheries and Aquaculture in relation to Food Security, pointing out changes going on, including overexploitation of fish stocks and the boom of aquaculture, in order to better understand these changes and to maximize the positive effects of them.
Final findings of the study will feed into CFS 41 Plenary session on policy convergence (October 2014).
As part of the process of elaboration of its reports, the HLPE now seeks inputs, suggestions, comments on the present V0 draft.
This e-consultation will be used by the HLPE to further elaborate the report, which will then be submitted to external expert review, before finalization and approval by the HLPE Steering Committee.
HLPE V0 drafts are deliberately presented – with their range of imperfections – early enough in the process, at a work-in-progress stage, when sufficient time remains to give proper consideration feedback received so that it can be really useful and play a real role in the elaboration of the report. It is a key part of the scientific dialogue between the HLPE Project team and Steering Committee with the rest of the knowledge community.
In particular, the HLPE would welcome comments and evidence based suggestions, references, examples, etc. on policy aspects, from an evidence-based perspective, on what can be done to improve the contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to improve food security and nutrition, now and in the future, in various contexts.
It is a fact: fish is nutritionally rich (in particular in bioavailable calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin A); and fish (either produced through fish-farming activity or caught from wild stocks through fisheries) is used in many developing countries as a primary source of animal protein. The latest estimate by the FAO suggests for instance that in 2009, fish accounted for 17% of the global population’s intake of animal protein and 6.5% of all protein consumed. Globally, fish provides about 3.0 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of such protein (FAO 2012).
Yet, fisheries and aquaculture are absent from most global reports on food and food insecurity (e.g., FAO SOFA and the FAO food insecurity reports) and, with some few exceptions, fish has so far been ignored in the international debate on food security and nutrition. At the same time, although the fisheries literature recognizes the importance of fish in relation to food security and nutrition, the analysis goes rarely beyond the simple adage stating that: “Fish is a rich food for the poor”.
There is an urgent need to go beyond this adage and establish more rigorously the link between fish ad food security and nutrition. The key-question that this study will aim to address is: “recognizing the well-established importance of fish to food security and nutrition, what should be done to maintain or even enhance this contribution now and in the long term, given the challenges that both fisheries and aquaculture sectors are facing in terms of their own environmental sustainability and governance, and the external economic and demographic transitions that they have to respond to?”
In order to address this overarching question, several more specific interrogations may be considered:
Respective contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to food security and nutrition: How and to what extent do fisheries and aquaculture contribute to food security - through which impact pathways? What is the evidence available to present fisheries and aquaculture as key ways for improving the food security of targeted populations?
Women and food security: What is the specific role of women in enhancing food security in fisheries and aquaculture sectors? What are the threats and barriers to this specific role and why and how should this role be strengthened?
Sectorial trade-offs and food security: Are there any trade-offs between the sectors’ contributions at different levels or between different groups? In other words, is it possible that enhancing food security at one level (or for one specific target group, e.g. urban consumers) reduces food security at another level (or for another specific group, e.g. fishers/producers)? As part of this issue, what is the overall contribution of international fish trade on food security?
Environmental sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture: Beyond an obvious long-term dependence, what is the relationship (trade-offs; synergies) between resource conservation and food security? In particular what are the short- and medium-term impacts of the large number of conservation interventions (e.g. marine protected areas) that have been recently established, on the local populations dependent on small-scale fisheries?
Governance and food security: What are the effects of the various management and governance reforms (e.g. co-management programmes) currently implemented at national level throughout the world’s fisheries, on food security? At the international level what is the role and impact of recent global programmes and campaigns such as the “International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU)”, or the implementation of BMPs (Best Management Practices) in aquaculture on food security?
Fisheries and aquaculture interaction: Are there any trade-offs between aquaculture and fisheries in relation food security? In particular is the use of fish meal (to feed farmed fish) a threat to human food security?
The future of fisheries and aquaculture in the context of foods security: What future role fisheries and aquaculture will be able to play in the context of the combined impact of demographic transition (increased population and increased living standard) and climate change (likely decrease in world agriculture production capacity)?
We thank in advance all the contributors for being kind enough to read and comment on this early version of our report. We look forward for a rich and fruitful consultation.
The HLPE Project Team and Steering Committee